I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I eat (okay, who am I kidding? After three semesters of Culture and Food in college, I think about it all. the. time.). A big reason for this is because with all my big life changes in the recent past, (and all this free time in the present) I’ve been thinking a lot more about everything in general. I don’t have a job, and often it can feel like my life is purposeless, with gads of free time and it takes a lot not to lose your sense of self when everything in your life is shifting. Another reason I’ve been thinking about it even more recently is that my best friend back in the states has made the decision to go vegan.
I myself, am technically a “pescatarian” (I eat the occasional piece of fish or tuna salad sandwich) but for the most part, I tell people I’m a vegetarian, to avoid having to explain what a pescatarian is, all the time. I think going vegan is admirable. I’m a vegetarian for many reasons, mostly environmental concerns, sustainability, and the awfulness of the meat industry, as well as some health reasons. These are also some core pillars in support of veganism, but I’m not going to go vegan. And it’s not because I like cheese.
There’s a quote by Abdu’l-Baha (one of the central figures in the Baha’i Faith) that goes like this “Exercise moderation in all things.” and this quote has been resounding with me so strongly over the past few months. Moderation! Of course! I’m prone to extreme emotions, extreme bouts of sadness and anxiety, extreme joy, extreme homesickness, extreme love, extreme fear. But whenever I’m in the throes of whatever I’m in the throes of, I try to remember moderation. I try to remember to moderate my sadness, to recall little things that make me happy, and that all things pass. Even when I’m euphoric, I try to take big calm, happy breaths to achieve more of a peaceful, contented happiness. It’s so easy, and makes so much sense to me to extend this to every aspect of my life: computer/television time, exercise, and especially: what I eat.
I’ve also been trying to be less judgmental. I’m extremely anxious, a lot of the time when I’m not in my own space, alone or with Andreas. I’m extremely anxious because I’m afraid I’m doing everything wrong. I’m afraid I’m walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk, I’m afraid I’m speaking too loud in the grocery store. I’m afraid I’m talking too much at knitting group, or talking too little. I’m afraid I’m smiling with a piece of spinach stuck between my teeth. Chances are, I do all of those things, but chances also are that nobody cares. I’m pretty sure they’re vastly more forgiving, friendly, and open than I am giving them credit for.
There are almost as many “ways” to eat as there are people to support, defend, argue about, criticize, and attack every other way of eating. There are sciences to support some, there are contradictions, there are moral issues, and far too many people to offend. I have made a decision to eat the way I eat, and to not judge others who don’t eat the same way. There are too many different facets to food, food culture, eating styles, etc. to be able to judge anyone on the way they eat. Do I think people should be mindful and make informed decisions? Of course! Do I think everyone should eat the way I eat? Nope. There are lots of viable, sensible “diets” that people follow, and so many different lifestyles that there is not one way of eating that fits them all. I think people should make the decisions that fit their lives. For some, this is going vegan, or eating the “paleo” way, and for some this isn’t really feasible, and even if it could be…”feased,” making such a huge life decision without passion and commitment doesn’t make sense to me, and in my eyes, what we eat is one of the biggest decisions in our lives, because not only does it help make up our identity and who we are, but it literally builds our bodies and forms us.
I try to be moderate. I’ve started meal-planning, which has incidentally made it a lot easier to incorporate more vegetables and healthy food into my diet. I buy eggs from hens that got to be outside because I think that’s nicer. I eat some cheese, and I use real butter, and try not to buy processed foods, because I like the idea of using whole ingredients and knowing exactly what I’m eating.
I’ve been trying to find balance in my life, between trying to get “work” done and letting myself relax in this pretty neat “hiatus” time in my life that not many people get the chance to experience. I find balance through food, I find balance through yoga, and through trying to conquer my demons (read: anxiety) and letting myself be an introvert. I like the idea of balanced food. Healthy, and wholesome, and sometimes candy. I’m content with my decisions, but I wouldn’t say I’m proud because I think that’s one of the dangerous things that can cause judgment and separation (it is probably a deadly sin for a reason).