We are a product of the environment in which we are raised.
Whether or not you agree with this viewpoint, (I’m still not sure where I stand on “Nature vs. Nurture”.) I think it applies to the typical American diet. We are a few generations in from the Depression Era, and are the products of those that learned to SAVE EVERYTHING. In the Depression Era, if you were eating a meal preserved in a can, you were thankful. You had a loaf of bread and coffee? You were a king. What did the children of this time learn? To save every scrap, that “meat and potato’s” was the dream. Over the generations, we’ve been taught that our bellies can never be too full, and that hoarding our food isn’t necessarily bad. (Unless you wind up on the show Hoarders of course.)
When I traveled back to Minnesota, I was reminded of how differently Schofie and I live from the generation before us. Now, I want you to know that I don’t write this with a self-righteous, judgmental spirit, because I’m certainly not perfect and have a lot of growth to do, but there were some distinct changes that I couldn’t help but notice: miscellaneous trinkets, photos, bins stuffed with toys for the grandkids; statements of lives filled with children.
Then came the food. Throughout the week there were caramel rolls, burgers, whole milk, casseroles, ice cream… the list goes on. To be fair, our family may have splurged on some things because Schofie and I were there. However, the change from my ritual of mostly raw eating throughout the day was brought to halt.
I realized just how deep-seeded my sense of self – my thought process – revolves around food. The thought of eating a cheesy casserole? And seeing mayonnaise on the counter? Above all, not knowing how the food was cooked was throwing me into a panic attack. I grew overwhelmed, claustrophobic, and was starting to sweat.
I have worked so hard to lose the accumulated 52 lbs. of fat off my body, that high-fat foods I once found so delicious are now taboo to me. It was so frustrating because I knew that these foods were being served out of love and caring for us, yet I was in conflict with myself. Do I eat this out of politeness, so long as they don’t have meat? Or do I politely say, “No, thank you.”? I know that on a rare, special occasion, eating Monkey Bread wont kill me, but my mind was telling me it would. I had to get out of the house.
We decided to go grocery shopping and get some soy milk, fresh spinach, apples, oranges, carrots – beautiful, vibrant, stereotypically Rhed foods, and eventually I calmed down. I was brought back to my comfort zone, and oh what a truly wonderful place that was! Yet I pondered why this had upset me so. After all, this was just food. I was making a huge deal in my mind out of something very small in the grand scheme of things. Yes, health and wellness are incredibly important and something I love to talk about and dwell on… but does that give me the right to be a snob about my lifestyle?
People do not generally switch their lifestyles overnight because of statistics, they look at examples. If I am humble about the way I present the fact that I believe in a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, and do not judge others because I believe them to be less healthy, they will be curious on their own.
And they were.
- My father-in-law very sweetly went and bought me some frozen vegetarian dinners. (I’d never tried those before.) He doesn’t understand why I eat the way I do, but he was trying to be sensitive to it, and I greatly appreciated the effort.
- For my mothers birthday she asked me to make her some vegetarian pizza, which turned out to be a huge hit, and my meat-eating father chuckled, “This is really good!”.
- My brother-in-law tried a slice of Gourmet Vegetarian pizza from Papa Murphy’s and said, “If Vegetarian’s eat like this all the time, you might just convince me to stop eating meat…”
- My sister-in-law sat me down with the family and said, “So, explain to me how you eat. Your lifestyle. You look great!”
Wow! How humbled and grateful I was! By relaxing in my approach to food for a week, and explaining what I was making for them was a treat, I was able to have the chance to explain the wonders of raw food and people were interested of their own accord. So, thank you family, for a lesson learned, and for being open to new ideas.
For I too was once in your position.