Am I vegan? Well, the short answer is no.
Although people have been asking me if I am and assuming I am since the day I left nutrition school.
But before you jump to conclusions...…let me explain.
In the past 5 years I have been asked by a lot of people..... A LOT.... if I’m vegan or vegetarian…and the answer is (still) no. But that doesn’t mean I eat meat all the time - it just means I don't eat it every day.
Let me explain. There are other foods you can get protein from. We've been fed this theory that we need meat every single day in order to feed our body fully. It's simply not true.
I eat fish and I eat eggs. We eat red meat about twice a month. I also eat dairy... but only occasionally and usually in the form of fancy cheeses. Yum.
So what is that diet? Pescatarian? (no meat but yes to fish) Lacto-ovo vegetarian (vegetarian who eats eggs) who occasionally eats meat? Flexitarian? MOSTLY plant based? I don’t even know. The flexi-diet also goes out the window when I'm dining with family or friends who are cooking or serving me.
and guess what? That's ok!
In the past I have been vegetarian, macrobiotic, and pescitarian. Technically I suppose I’m a Lacto-Ovo-Pescatarian with occasional steaks thrown in. I also eat bone broth because it's a healthy, traditional food.
Do we need all these complicated labels?
Seeing all of this, I see that I really don't follow any rules.
So let’s just go with healthy. For the most part - 80/20. That is a balance. That’s what it means to me. It means that I preach, teach and practice a flexible diet.
It doesn't have to have a fancy label in order for me to feel okay about it.
It doesn't have to be a trend in order for me to feel okay about it.
The number one goal is that I feel okay about it! That this flexible diet works for me and I feel good. That I can own that flexibility fully.
Here’s the thing: If someone makes me dinner chock full of processed foods, dairy or even a microwave meal - I’m going to eat it. I won't be "that person" who would refuse anything - I don't feel like being a stress/strain on others - so I choose not to be. Not only does this honor the tradition of respecting those who prepare food for you (in the way that they know how to) it also makes life WAAAAAY easier. You may not agree with this, but that’s ok. It works for me because it saves my brain worry time, which I need!
Our comfort level comes into play when we are making these types of balancing choices. Skills required....
Comfortable enough in our own skin to not judge
Comfortable enough in our own skin to not feel judged by others
Stand my ground in decisions that are right for me?
To choose these options are brave - they are powerful, we are connecting our ourselves on a whole new level. It takes time to hone this skills, patience to perfect them.
When considering that a Holistic Nutritionist may be vegan, consider that our education is about REAL FOOD, and that yes there is research showing that a plant-based diet is ideal. But we still have our own beliefs and feelings and our job is not to eat one way - it's to support our clients in increasing their nutrients, increasing their digestive function, increasing their overall wellness in life.
So, basically, it's not about me or the way I eat....
But people ask, all the time. I choose my flexi-diet because I have tried other diets, lots of them. As above the macrobiotic, vegetarian diets, etc.
...and here is the truth.
I don't like following rules. I like to choose what I want, when I want it, based on the moment. I choose to not make people feel uncomfortable when they are making food for me. I choose to not eat 100% vegan because it does not work for my body. I choose to flex around between vegetarian and pescetarian or regular ol' carnivore literally based on how I'm feeling that week.
Is your diet therapeutic enough to have that freedom? Are you tuned in with your body enough to know how flexible you can be? It can be as easy as allowing our body to move towards a certain diet, test the waters, see what we like, see what happens.
Going full vegan is a FANTASTIC way to learn how your body feels on PLANTS. But it does not mean that you have to treat it as a 'diet' or that you have to become a full-time vegan yourself.
A LOT of people who hop on the vegan vanagon are not well-versed in what a vegan diet should look like, thus they tend to eat a lot of pastas or bread, and unknowingly make the vegan diet unhealthy. Or they skip the burger but eat fries. Vegans need a TON of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes and whole grains daily in order to get the proper amount of protein. It means that most of your diet should consist of the foods above, and if it doesn't, you just won't feel well.
Choose vegan, choose vegetarian, choose grass-fed meats: whatever you choose, make sure it fits and works for you.
Transitioning diets? Get a half hour session for support with this.