With all the talk about Oprah and her staff’s 28-day vegan challenge, I thought it would be good to give some insight into my vegan journey, which began 6 years ago. I am the founder and creator of the raw, vegan, gluten-free snack food brand Hail Merry. I have passed through the worlds of being an omnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, and high raw foodist and now I proudly consider myself a “flexitarian".
Where I find myself most days is living in the vegetarian world enhanced by raw dairy milk and organic pasture eggs, which have beautifully migrated back into my life (well edited, I might add).
My earlier days (2004+) as a high raw foodist and vegan were the most life changing years of my life. To become vegan is a journey about the soul, a deep rooted contemplation about where our food comes from, how it is grown, who profits from the animals we eat, and for some, animal rights. Yes, becoming vegan, or even vegetarian, has–let’s face it–activist roots. These activist roots are deep seeded for me, as I am a proud member of Mercy For Animals. One simply has to read their literature, watch Food Inc., or just own a pet to be sickened by animal cruelty. And yes, it did turn me into a vegan for a very long time.
However, as a race mankind has always instinctively wanted to eat animals (especially if your blood type is O, which is the case for me). Cavemen ate animals for survival. It is a gutteral instinct. It’s when we bring our highly evolved minds into the equation that we stop and think to ourselves–is it humane to eat something with a face?
We don’t have to physically kill our food anymore, so the violent aspect has been conveniently removed. All we have to do is order up that sizzling burger topped with onion rings and Chimayo chili infused aoli, and on about our day we go. The trouble is that for some of us, we keep hitting the replay button on ordering that burger, over and over again until we must hit the reset button. For some of us, hitting that reset can’t happen fast enough as our health weighs in the balance.
For any carnivore a good way to eat is the 80/20 rule, 80% plants and 20% animals. Unfortunately for most, those numbers are reversed. If your blood type is A, you can thrive on a vegetarian diet and, in fact, too many animals can really have serious health repercussions.
What some people who have not had the pangs of animal rights activism don’t realize or choose to deny, is that too many animal products can ultimately cause disease no matter what blood type you have.
Humans and animals are the only organisms that produce cholesterol. We MUST have this vital serum flowing through out our systems in order to produce healthy cellular membranes with adequate structure. We must also utilize cholesterol for proper hormone functioning–one of the fastest ways to age a body is to deprive it of needed hormones.
So what are we left to conclude when it comes to eating animals and proper cholesterol balancing? We know we need cholesterol to be healthy and it only comes from humans and animals. One solution is not to eat animal products and rely entirely on our bodies to make it for us. Seems feasible, right? Yes indeed, this is an approach that works for some, especially for those with already high cholesterol levels. In fact, if you have high cholesterol levels, that is your body’s way of telling you to BECOME VEGAN NOW! At least until those numbers decrease to a normal range. Another solution if you don’t have high cholesterol is to assist your body and eat healthy forms of cholesterol in the form of raw dairy or pasture eggs. I have type O blood so my body was designed to eat animal products. If you give your body just the right amount of cholesterol it needs to be healthy, then it doesn’t have to make it and can work on other aspects of healing and cellular repair.
I will tell you that when I was “high raw” for 8-9 months, my cholesterol dropped from an already low 160 to below 129. (Before I became raw, I ate only very little animal protein and zero dairy, which is why I started out in the low range.) Having a 129 cholesterol is actually too low–yes, you can be too low!
When I hit 129 my health started to decline. I became tired (as opposed to the incredible energy I felt in the beginning of my raw food journey). My body was working too hard to manufacture the cholesterol I needed for cellular repair and hormonal balance, and it was now time to offer my body assistance. I needed high quality cholesterol so I researched and discovered a resource for raw dairy milk, the highest and most nutritious form of vegetarian cholesterol and vital fats. I also discovered a company called Vital Farms, which raises organic pasture grass fed chickens. (The eggs these chickens produce have the most beautiful deep colored yellow yolk filled with healthy omega 3s.) Grass fed cows produce milk that is loaded with Vitamin D and A, which are vital for good health. I prefer to receive my vitamins from my food rather than a pill. Vitamin D is critical for a healthy immune system, especially in the winter months when we are not getting as much sun. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not drinking 3-4 glasses of raw milk a day like my growing boys at home. I am adding perhaps ½ to 1 full cup to my morning chai. As a woman I feel really great about the extra boost of calcium I am giving my body too. I know you can get adequate calcium from dark green, leafy vegetables, but I prefer the boost. (Not to mention it makes my chai tea taste amazing–see recipe below!)
Our bodies are miraculous. They produce enzymes, cholesterol, and hormones when we need them. I am all about assisting the body so it doesn’t have to work so hard. Give it the living enzymes it needs for proper digestion through eating mostly raw living foods, and if you have been a vegan for a long time, consider raw dairy for non-oxidized life-giving saturated fats. Eat raw nuts and avocados too. Our bodies need these essential fats and we must obtain them from what we eat.
All you have to do is say the words “saturated fats” and everyone freaks out and thinks oh my God, I am going to get heart disease and die if I eat these fats! The truth is, these fats are required to be healthy. Be careful and stay away from them ’til you become balanced, then offer up assistance with non-oxidized versions from raw dairy, wild salmon or pasture eggs.
Sorry, but I feel a rant coming on so bare with me…What is killing Americans is not saturated fats, it is oxidized fats in the form of heat extracted polyunsaturated oils, pasteurized dairy, and cooked animal fats. Cooked saturated animal fats are only part of the problem. Too many simple carbohydrates in the diet, which overload the body’s ability to keep up with insulin production, causes excess fat to be stored on our bellies surrounding our organs.
Raw fats from dairy are exactly what the body needs to build and rebuild cells. Keep in mind that heart disease was not a problem for Americans before the 1950s when we consumed unpasteurized dairy. It was only when America became obsessed with saturated fats and started eating margarine and pasteurized low fat diary that we became ill.
Look to the French, who have been eating butter and cream for decades. They are slim, sexy, and free from obesity. Fat satiates the palate so we eat fewer total calories. Fixating on fat free foods causes one to eat too many carbs and in turn, gain weight.
Sorry for that rant, but I felt it was necessary. I am no expert and I don’t claim to be. Please check out the Weston A. Price Foundation and the works of Mary Enig, Ph.D If you want to learn more. And for those of you who are not inclined towards a diet of total veganism, I highly recommend you read her studies. For some people, animals were put on this planet for a reason: to feed and nourish the human race.
As a society we just have lost our way, in my opinion. We have gotten away from eating mostly plants, being "plant strong", as the author of The Engine 2 Diet says.
Where I live today is in the world of a vegetarian, who enjoys raw nuts, raw fish, and raw dairy to assist my body with the essential fats we need to be healthy. It works great for me in my overly stressed out world of growing a business and raising three kids.
Where will your food journey lead you and what will you learn about yourself and your planet along the way?
Thanks for reading.