I haven’t eaten meat, dairy products or eggs for 31 years. And not only that, I very rarely consume processed sugars, oils, or other processed foods.
That might sound like a fate worse than death for those who eat these things every day. (Which means the huge majority of our western world.)
The fear of feeling deprived prevents lots of people from making healthy changes in their diets — especially adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet!
So why don’t I feel deprived? By most people’s standards, my food choices are considered extreme: extremely limiting, extremely strict, extremely difficult, extremely boring, and extremely un-fun!
The truth is, I get extreme JOY out of eating my food! When I see the vibrant colors on my plate of food, I see beauty. When I taste the unique flavors and textures of the great variety of foods I enjoy, I’m amazed at Nature’s creativity.
The truth is, I’m in love. And when you’re in love, you don’t feel deprived — you feel amazed and grateful.
My love affair with my food is not focused solely on the taste of this delicious food. It is much broader and deeper than that.
You see, I’m in love with life. And the life force enters our planet through plants.
Without plants, there would be no other life on this planet. Plants are able to turn the sun’s energy into food for themselves and for all other beings who share this planet, including humans.
So I’m amazed by plants. They do what I cannot do. What no other human can do. What no other animal can do.
And yet, I have a very intimate relationship with plants, in spite of their obvious superiority!
When I eat my delicious meals, the plants on my plate are transformed by my equally amazing body into my very own flesh and blood. The energy that fuels my brain — my ability to think, to create, to communicate — came from the plants. The hike I took in Hatcher Pass yesterday, with my dog, Heidi, and partner, Charlie, was fueled by plants.
My love affair with my food is deepened by my partnership with the plants I eat. Most of the plants on my plate last night grew in my garden.
I planted the seeds in my house in early spring. I tended to the baby seedlings
indoors until the weather warmed enough to give them a new home outside. Then the soil, the sun, the rain, the worms, and the bugs and microbes in the soil helped me take care of the plants.
Did I create the garden? Perhaps the garden is creating me. I think the garden and I are co-creating something wonderful together. We are definitely part of the infinite life force together, and our lives come together with joy and beauty in the garden.
Every day I walk through the garden, admiring how big and strong the plants have become, remembering how tiny and vulnerable they were when the seeds first germinated. I nurture them in the ways that gardeners do, watering, weeding, thinning. And while I do these tasks, I feel love for my garden, like you might feel when bathing your young child.
Now the garden is at the stage where it provides food for me. And as I eat the leaves, roots, and fruits of the plants, they become me, and I will continue to plant more seeds, grow more gardens, and the cycle of life continues.
A garden is a spiritual place. Gardening is a spiritual relationship. And eating is a most sacred act.
With this perspective, how could I feel deprived?
Of course, I also eat plants that I buy at the grocery store and feel very grateful for them as well. The plants connect us with the Earth and with Life itself, no matter where they are grown.
For me, the idea of eating processed foods feels like severe deprivation. Foods that have been made in a processing plant (a factory) cannot have the energy of plants grown in a garden.
And by the way, I also grow many varieties of beautiful flowers in my garden, who also bring me tremendous joy and nourish my spirit.
I teach nutrition and cooking classes, and most people only hear me talk about how good these plant foods are for our bodies. . . How the fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals provide what we need for optimal health. . . And how to prepare these foods in ways that taste delicious while providing us with the nourishment we need to live well.
And yes, all those things are very important to me! I love being slim and healthy! I love knowing that my body has what it needs to keep my immune system strong so that I don’t live in fear of whatever virus might happen to be passing through.
I love having the health I could only have dreamed of when I was in my 20’s and suffered inflammation throughout my body.
I love my amazing, self-healing body and want to give it the highest quality of food, which means whole, unprocessed plant foods.
But my love affair with my food is so much bigger than all that. It is my love affair with life itself.
This might all sound a bit crazy to you. But I invite you to stick your toe in the water of this way of thinking for just a moment. It won’t hurt. And you just might be able to enjoy eating healthy food as much as I do!