No Label Required: Just Listen to Your Body
A common trap many health conscious individuals fall into is donning a label -- Vegan, Raw Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore, Pescetarian, Fruitarian and so on. And let's not forget adding in percentages --"Well, I'm 90% raw vegan 11.2% of the time and the other 88.8% I’m an omnivore."
While this is a gross exaggeration, it really isn’t that far-fetched – I’ve heard numerous people try to break down what, how and when they eat! No one owes anyone an explanation of their dietary habits. There is no prize for those that stick to strict regimented menus. My humble opinion -- LABELS ARE FOR JARS, CANS, BOXES AND BOTTLES, NOT PEOPLE!!
Many people I know stick to a completely raw vegan diet and it works wonderful for them. Then there are others that have dabbled in it (me being one of them) or have no desire to subscribe to just one way of eating for any length of time. My one caveat is I’m gluten free, unprocessed and organic; however, I don’t throw these “labels” around nor let them define who I am. The danger with this whole characterization by what one consumes is the pressure to always to stick to it. How frequent have you seen a raw vegan being practically crucified for taking a bite of something not raw vegan?
Lately, I’ve noticed more and more of the onetime-hardcore raw gurus switching gears BIG time and incorporating cooked foods and even, dare I say, flesh foods into their diet. They’ve come to the realization that their bodies weren’t performing their best, and even not performing at all – many were facing health issues that have been remedied by a change in diet. This is in no way saying that what they were doing was wrong – it just wasn’t right for them and I applaud them for listening to the cues their body was telling them. I also feel it was extremely brave of them to come out, so to speak, and document their journeys. There is NO shame in saying, "Hey, I thought this was the best thing for me but it turns out it wasn’t." Geez, it’s not like they’ve turned to a life of drugs and alcohol – they're just eating some “real” foods.
I am a big proponent of listening to your body and doing what works for you as an individual. I don’t make a big to-do about what I eat, and when asked I usually just say I eat organic, unprocessed. That’s pretty broad, but then again, WHY do I have to be specific? That alone garners way to much attention. Sometimes I get a snide remark such as “You don’t eat real food.” To this I reply “Oh, but I do just that. I eat real food that doesn’t come from a box, bag, jar or can. I might be the ONLY person you know actually eating REAL food.” This usually quiets someone down real quick :)
The only label I wear is one that says I’m a person in touch with my body and its needs. I love my green juices and big green salads; however, I find that in the winter months they just don’t cut it for me – my body craves more warmth. I still consume my green juices but I add lots of warming spices such as ginger and sometimes the occasion sprinkle of cayenne. I eat cooked veggies (seriously THE world may just end!) and some cooked grains (my go-to is quinoa followed by brown rice and millet) and I love lentils and adzuki beans. I juice my beets and carrots in addition to roasting them and I love them just the same both ways and they are equally health promoting and nourishing to my body – in different ways of course.
While I fantasize about the Fruitarian lifestyle, I know for me it wouldn’t work! My mantra for the New Year is to “BE GENTLE.” If you’re a raw vegan feeling a bit not yourself , add some cooked veggies or grains or whatever is your thing. If you’re a vegetarian and not satisfied, maybe add some raw dairy. Just don’t ignore your body because you’ve labeled yourself something and certain healthy sustenance may not fall under that labeling!