The other day a friend was asking if I had any advice for her child that was considering becoming vegetarian. I was flattered that they would come to me for advice.
I spent the first 12 years of my life as a meat eater. I never really like meat - in fact I hated the gristle, the fat, the tough parts. I despised eating pork and beef and didn't really care for seafood. So at age 12 I approached my mother about becoming a vegetarian. Her response - cook for yourself or continue eating chicken and turkey. With the choice on the table I chose to keep eating chicken and turkey. In no way was I prepared at age 12 to become my own cook.
Fast forward to university. I was an unhealthy and overweight young adult. Sucked into believing that french fries and chicken burgers were a staple diet of an almost vegetarian, I yo-yo-yo'd from one diet to another. Never able to find an ideal weight, I didn't understand the connection of fast and processed food to my unhealthy body. I thought products with the words "lite" or "non-fat" or "diet-food" were the answer to my weight problems. I tried Weight Watchers many times. I tried cutting fats, then sugars, then carbs. None of it worked. Being an almost vegetarian was not making me healthy. I needed a lifestyle makeover.
It wasn't until I discovered a love of fresh produce from farmers markets that I discovered what being a vegetarian could really be about. I started visiting the Penticton Farmers Market weekly. I started running and growing some of my own food. I still wasn't fully vegetarian but I had finally found a happier healthier body. I fell in love with asparagus, salads and chick peas. I figured out that there was something to this vegetarian lifestyle. With the right balance of beans, vegetables, fruit, rice, I could be a balanced eater.
I read Micheal Pollans book "Ominivoire's Dilema". I took a certificate course on Sustainable Urban Agriculture. I devoured literature on growing and eating. Essays on plant based diets filled my literary plate. Authors such as Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and more filled my brain. Finally, I knew the key to my health. Become a farmer. Grow good food for good people. Become a full fledged vegetarian. Be a food activist.
Fast forward to today.
I have been a vegetarian for six months. I will never go back to eating meat.
I have been a farmer for seven years. I grow good food for good people. The exercise and lifestyle benefit me and my whole family. I have maintained a healthy weight since I made these shifts in my life. I avoid restaurants and eating out and pre-packaged foods. I work hard to grow and make and bake healthy vegetarian choices for my family. Although, they are still organic meat eaters, I don't choose to partake.
I am an activist for organic plant based diet. I preach about the importance of safe healthy food. I want it to be available to all. I want all food to be organic. I want to save the world by converting more people to a plant based diet. I want us to wake up and realize that we are destroying ourselves and the planet.
I make no apologies for the way I eat.
My advice for my friend and her child. Learn to love vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, lentils, rice. Embrace cooking together and exploring new recipes. Learn to grow more for yourself. Consider what is driving you to become a vegetarian. Read about it. Become informed.
Being a vegetarian is what the planet needs from us all. Switching to a plant based diet may be your way to be an activist too.
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