I’ve come to a conclusion: labels repel me.
No, I am not saying that all labels are bad, nor am I declaring that I claim no labels. I do claim some labels, and the ones I do claim I am rather proud of: writer and yogini. I could also claim wellness enthusiast and advocate, hiker, animal-lover, creative cook, hooper…labels are not bad, as long as they don’t “pigeonhole” you (an applicable vocabulary word borrowed from my dear ‘ol Dad).
I’ve been ruminating on the topic of labels, and discussing their complexities with my peers and my ever-wise parents. I have a deep love for animals and animal wellness, and could easily stamp myself vegan. My carbon footprint would be reduced along with my own personal affect on the maltreatment of beautiful, breathing, living animals. But then there are all of the accompanying complications with claiming such a label (like what about honey, and wool, and those awesome suede boots I bought in ‘09 whilst living in Italy?) and, more importantly, the obstacles (like not being able to easily enjoy a meal with family, or eat out comfortably at an ordinary restaurant). I’m sure many vegans would turn their nose up at the selfishness in the past couple sentences. But, you know what, having dabbled in veganism on and off for years, it’s been a sincere issue I’ve run into and I’m not going to be ignorant of that fact.
So, what I propose is this: Quasi-fill-in-the-blank-eating.
I love eating raw, absolutely adore it, however I personally cannot realistically eat raw every single day; I love eating vegan for the positive effects on animal wellness, my own body, my health, the environment and my heart; but I’m not going to limit myself to what I see as a “pigeonholed” and terribly awkward social life of “salad with dressing on the side” when I go out anyplace. I personally am already limited by dairy allergies, so why box myself off further by adhering to a strict label? Guess what, I LOVE seafood. I adore making my delicious and miraculous greek yogurt dip. I enjoy an occasional grilled chicken breast with veggies over greens. I like poaching an egg now and then. Sue me. I even hear myself getting defensive, and then I realize…why should anyone care but me?
So, that being said, why can’t I create my very own non-label?? I’m Quasi-Raw-Vegan. There’s a beautiful twitter page called “AlmostRawVegan.” I’m totally drawn to this page because it speaks to my the rhythms of my own individual soul. Is one not doing a great favor to the animal wellness cause, the environment, and their health by being “almost” or “quasi” vegan? By being “sort of” raw? By being a “sometimes” vegetarian? By buying organic, pasture raised, 5-step verified meat products from a reputable grocer, or better yet, from a local rancher themselves? Does every little tiny bit not help the big picture? My answer is HELL YES. If you’re like me, and repelled by labels, then step away from the labels. YOU run YOUR own life. YOU have the choice to make decisions based on what WORKS for your body and what MATTERS to YOU! Cue the amazing Jessica Sepel (whose blog can be found here) and a beautiful quote from her blog page that really resonated with me:
Jessica kindly asks folks making her recipes off her blog to “have with a serving of protein, please!” She doesn’t preach “which protein” which I absolutely respect, tenfold. The above quote is powerful because so many of us fail to see that, fail to recognize it. We want everyone to eat like US. “No, just try it,” we say, ”dairy can’t make you feel that sick, just eat it!” No, my answer is dairy does me feel sick. Maybe my green smoothies make your stomach turn. Fair enough! We are different. Our bodies thrive on different substances, and that’s OKAY!
I am a self-professed nutrition nut. I always will be. I love to eat delicious food, but the moment my life took a profound turn is when I stopped eating food that didn’t make me feel good. I loved me a good cheeseburger back in the day – but the ensuing, day-long rut of low energy, sluggishness, and indigestion are simply NOT worth it. I’d rather have a portobello burger, a homemade chickpea burger, or even a free-range turkey burger, cheeseless, with avocado, with or without a sprouted whole grain bun! Why not a soy veggie burger, you ask? Well because, in my humble opinion, I would prefer to eat the least processed form of food available to me. Tristan Prettyman says something similar in an interview, talking about her time as a vegan and not wanting to ingest all of the ingredient-laden meat and dairy imitation products because they’re far worse for you, and higher in caloric content, than the original product!
My thoughts are this: follow your heart. Eating close to nature, pure foods, extra veggies, lots of superfoods, very nourishing fuel – that’s my dietary calling. But I fully embrace yours, and yours, and yours. We are all so different. I also embrace that, when removed from my own space and routine, flexibility must come into play. I refuse to isolate myself due to some label. It’s simply not healthy. As Jessica Sepel talks about in her wellness counseling, taking care of the inside is JUST as important as taking care of the outside. How good for your heart and soul is it if you can’t sit down to a meal with your loved ones who eat differently than you? My family members are loving and caring, and they love my healthy cooking, respect my dairy intolerance, and enjoy preparing meals with me in the kitchen that we all will love. Love, life, food, relationships, and cooking all require compromise and flexibility. My hope for myself, and for us all, is to live happy, holistically well lives in the healthiest bodies we can possibly cultivate for ourselves; that is the point of this article.
Let go of the guilt, whatever guilt it is that keeps you glued to a label that you are perhaps feeling hindered by. Likewise, if you love your label, then love it. Pave a road that leads to your bliss and you can’t go wrong.
So, my holistic wellness hunting friends, bravely and boldly be “Quasi_________’s” because life is NOT all or nothing! Every, single, little, bit, helps. Go out and be beautifully, radically, individually your Selves!
Peace, harmony, and well-being…this day, and everyday!