Today we have a very special guest blog from my friend Pauline Magnusson. You are in for a treat and a surpise! So without further dealy…
What? You’re not either? Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me!
Actually, Carl knows I’m not a vegan, and I am both delighted and honored that he’s allowed me to guest post today, writing about intentional eating, whether vegan, paleo, nourshing traditions, or someplace among all three.
I have to tell you, though, a few months back, I very nearly wouldn’t have read Carl’s blog! I mean, it mentions vegan recipes and a vegan cookbook, and if you take one look at the contents of my freezer or fridge, you’ll know I’m a pretty happy, pretty convinced omnivore, including various kinds of meat, fowl, and fish. (And that’s saying nothing of my love of fresh dairy products, but we’ll leave that for a moment).
One day I mentioned my meat-eating diet to him, expecting a militant response about how vegan is better. But that’s not what I got! Much to my surprise, we enjoyed a wonderful conversation about intentional eating in healthful ways. Turns out – we share a belief that there can be a place for the consumption of meat in a lifestyle focused on wellness.
In fact – let me tell you a bigger secret than the fact that I’m not vegan.
Carl’s not vegan either! Yep, you’re reading that right!
Lest you think I’m spilling secrets, he blessed my sharing of that information in this blog post, hoping to affirm the reality that there can be more than one specific nutritional path to wellness.
A vegan diet was a key player in Carl’s own journey toward healing and wellness, and he continues to recognize and affirm the role that a vegan diet can play in cleansing and healing.
Day to day, however, in the support of an ongoing lifestyle of wellness, he (and I) note that vegan dishes go great with meat (and we are intentional and picky about the sources of animal protein, but more on that later)!
In assuming he continued to be vegan – or that he was arrogantly militant about it, it’s not fair to blame him for my assumptions – I used to be one myself! For about two years in college, based on ideology about hunger in the world, I chose to be vegetarian. I wasn’t militant per se, but I definitely perceived myself as “better” than those who ate meat, and was sure to find subtle ways to let others know.
My pride took a tiny fall after having my wisdom teeth removed when the first solid food I wanted was beef. Nothing satisfied me until I had some, and it was almost embarrassing to admit how good that first steak tasted.
In the years since then, I’ve done a lot more reading about diet and at least a little more growing up, I hope!
I’ve learned that solely basing my diet on political ideology, the latest greatest fad, or any other external source of input is a recipe for disaster in more ways than one.
I’ve learned that one of the most important ways to judge a healthy lifestyle and diet is to honestly assess how it makes me feel.
That’s not to say that I don’t consider outside advice with respect to healthy living. Far from it! But in the face of contradicting advice from experts, self-help books and friends on the latest diet, I’ve learned that it’s important to find the right way to cook, eat, and live for me to be my healthiest. And the specifics just might differ from what’s best for you.
That said, there are some basic principles of the way I choose to eat for wellness that have some universal wisdom, no matter what diet you follow specifically. Here are 3 basic principles of eating for wellness that you might find helpful too, whether you include meat in your diet, are vegan, or somewhere in between.
Know your food’s source.
No matter what you choose to eat, know where it came from, as far back in the chain as possible. Our family eats beef that is raised on a small farm according to organic principles, though not certified organic. We have a relationship with the farmer who raises our beef and each year we renew our contract to purchase a side of beef from him. While I know we are not immune to the possibility of food-borne illness by this arrangement, it lessens our risk substantially. As a mother of young children, this is very important to me!
The meat on our table is the product of relationships between ourselves and the farmer, the farmer and the earth, and yes, even ourselves and the animal itself. My children understand where meat comes from – and the answer isn’t “the store.”
Our milk comes from an organic dairy whose practices we’ve researched and are comfortable with. We belong to a consumer-supported agriculture organization, or CSA, for our produce. Through this arrangement, we pay a subscription fee up front that gives the farmers a known source of income and the ability to plan their growing accordingly. Each week, we receive a box of seasonal, locally grown organic produce in return. Again, in the exchange of goods and services, relationships are formed, and my children see that food is produced by real people working the soil at real farms. (We try to grow some of our own but are challenged by the new climate and soil to which we have recently moved!)
Limit the processing – eat simple, whole foods you can recognize.
It amuses me to see the amount of food in boxes and bags at the big-chain health food stores, all proudly bearing the label “organic.” It horrifies me to see people toting cart loads of it out the door, assuming that they’ve just made healthy choices. Really – the only thing healthier as a result of that decision is the corporation pocketing their hard-earned money. If you’re looking at a food item and can’t immediately tell what natural food it started out as, it’s likely not the most healthful choice you can make.
Vegan or carnivore – it’s not an all or nothing thing!
It’s so easy to draw our lines in the sand, isn’t it? We like to put things (including our own choices) in boxes, declaring ourselves to be one thing or another. It applies to diet too – listen to how people describe their diet, and you’ll hear lots of ownership and categorization. “I’m vegan.” “I’m Paleo.” “I’m a Nourishing Traditions person.” There’s an old saying that “you are what you eat,” but I’m positive – this isn’t it! There are principles of many different kinds of healthy ways of eating that can be incorporated into whatever your overall diet includes. For instance, while I am not vegan, I eat a vegan diet and eat only to satiety (initial feelings of satisfaction, not over-full) on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is a reset that not only helps me feel invigorated and healthy, but also mindful of the blessing of having more than enough to eat.
Whether vegan or meat eating, I share Carl’s vision that you have found a way of living intentionally, holistically, and well!
If this is where you are, I celebrate with you – share with me in the comments below what elements of wellness you’ve found essential in your own life’s journey!
If you’re new to the idea of wellness and healthy, intentional eating, welcome! Leave a comment below- which of the three principles above would make the biggest change in your approach to healthy living?
Stay tuned – I hear Carl’s next post might have tips for thoughtfully pairing savory vegan dishes with meat. Count me in – YUM!
Pauline Magnusson is the founder and CEO of PaulineMagnusson.com. She is a writer, blogger, adjunct professor, wife, and homeschooling mother of 3 with one on the way. She is passionate about living intentionally at work, home, and everywhere in between. A self-proclaimed word-nerd, she loves her work of writing and content creation, saying “Whatever it is, we’ll help you say it better!”