Eating your lifestyle is another way of saying you are what you eat. I eat a gluten free, vegan diet and people ask me all the time how I do it. I don't know 'how' really, I just do it. But I can tell you 'why'.
Image courtesy of Morguefile
I have always loved animals and been affected by their suffering, probably even more than human suffering. Not because I don't care about people, but because animals seemed so much more innocent and their suffering vastly ignored. My empathy extends to them in a way I can't really explain.
People often like to tell me that animals exist for us to eat, that they and we are all part of the 'circle of life'. It may be true that there are carnivores on this planet and yes human beings, whether by choice or by nature, can be carnivorous. However my major concern with Western society eating meat originally came from how that meat is farmed and killed.
Originally I started out vegetarian but my opinion has evolved.
Eventually I moved from being concerned with just the welfare of farmed animals to being concerned with this idea of dominion over them. I don't feel we have the right to use them for our pleasure and comfort, any more than Anglo Saxons had any right to take Africans and other races as slave's centuries ago.
Unfortunately though, I've sometimes I've had to switch back to vegetarianism due to lack of choice when I've been travelling. Europe was the biggest challenge, especially in France and Italy where the majority of my choices were vegetarian pastas, pizza or Panini's. Which meant both cheese...and gluten!
But whenever I've had to compromise due to lack and scarcity, my heart has always brought me back to veganism.
This type of food outlet was typical sight throughout France and Italy
BEING GLUTEN INTOLERANT:
Image courtesy of Morguefile
I actually discovered that I was gluten intolerant when I first went vegetarian. My ex-husband and I made the decision to become vegetarians together, but having both been avid meat eaters up until this point we wanted to ease into it. One way I thought of doing this was to introduce meat substitutes into our meals.
The first meat substitute we tried was a product called 'gluten chunks'. It advertised itself on the packaging as being a substitute for steak pieces in casseroles or stews. I got a can, took it home and made a stew. Then I got sick! I had stomach craps, an irritated bowl, my body ached and I was nauseous. This went on for a week and the introduction of this new food into my diet was the only thing I could connect this sudden and unexplainable illness to. So I looked into it further.
The terms 'gluten intolerant' and 'Celiac' were only just becoming known to most people at this time, including myself.
With the encouragement of a work friend, who was at the time looking into the subject for herself, I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet and see how I went. As soon as the gluten had finally receded out of my system I felt great! Moreover, when I introduced gluten back into my diet, the symptoms of gluten intolerance came back.
You might have noticed that I say Iím gluten intolerant and not 'Celiac'. This is because, although it was clear to me that I needed to avoid gluten, I still thought I should go to the doctor and be tested for Celiac disease. I tested negative, but the problem with the test is that you have to saturate your system with gluten so it can produce enough of the antibodies needed to test positive. By the time I took the test I was already avoiding the stuff and I was extremely reluctant to re-introduce it. My doctor understood this and gave me some basic advice.
If I feel better when I donít eat gluten, then I shouldn't eat it!
In order to be a gluten free vegan Iíve had to experiment with different foods and eat a wider variety of foods as well. A lot of meat substitutes these days still contain gluten, so most of the time I opt to stay away from them and stick with legumes and tofu. I also eat a LOT of vegetables. You'll often see me eating big meals but they're mostly full of low calorie, healthy vegetables.
Having said that, occasionally I do like to treat myself and as both gluten free and vegan are becoming more commonplace, there are more and more gluten free/vegan products available! Meaning less reason for me to have to compromise and more opportunities for me to indulge!
There has been a lot of backlash to gluten free diets in the last year though and it has been labelled as a 'fad diet'.
If more people are eating gluten free because it is a fad for them, I donít care. I'm just glad it's happening and therefore not only making more choices available to me, but also making it easier for me to enjoy what I'm eating and in turn enjoy my lifestyle.
For me, discovering this thing called gluten intolerance was a break through. It explained why Iíd had constant body aches when I was younger; my dermatitis cleared up; and my body stopped retaining fluid. Meanwhile veganism has helped me to feel more at peace and I am no longer in a constant moral battle with myself. A battle I didn't know existed until I went vegan.
Eating your lifestyle is simply about being in resonance with who you are as a person - mind, body and soul.
Whether you like it or not, you are eating your lifestyle every single day. So if you're unhappy with your physical and/or spiritual health then listen to your heart, listen to your mind and listen to your body.