In the last year or so I find I’m often asked the question “Are you a vegan?” The impression I get is that people expect me to be a vegan because that is seen as the healthy thing to do right now.
Let me come clean: I’m not a vegan, or a vegetarian. I’m also not someone who believes in fixating on a particular type of ‘diet’ because if I did, that would mean that I’m assuming that we are all carbon copies of each other – identical on the inside and the outside…which would be a gross misjudgement!
One of the two biggest take outs of my nutrition training and clinical practice is: a) how incredibly complex our bodies are (it’s simplified way to much on google) and b) how biochemically different we all are.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experimented with different diets during my time and I totally get the ethical, earth-conserving reasons behind why you would want to be a vegan but, and this is the clincher for me: I tend to always look at things through the lens of obtaining optimum, vibrant health.
What you eat is information for your body, for your DNA. It’s not just fuel. What you eat should make you feel good: clear, sharp brain, steady energy, great mood. The types of food you need to help you heal and thrive will be dictated by factors such as what life phase you’re in, how active you are, whether you’re healthy or whether you have a diagnosed condition…and which one.
You can find scientific evidence supporting the restriction or elimination of complex carbohydrates like grains as well as all legumes for those suffering from autoimmune conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (1) and Multiple Sclerosis (2). In these cases, a vegan diet would be unhealthful – if there is such a word – and would not help the person thrive or heal.
Likewise there are scientific studies showing that vegetarianism is helpful for those with cardiovascular disease and diabetes (3) (4). There are less clear cut studies on veganism as most of the time it is lumped together with vegetarianism.
Contrary to what a lot of people like to tell me, it is very easy to become deficient in certain nutrients on a vegan diet, so do your research, be aware and be the healthiest vegan you can be, if that’s your choice (5).
Whatever our choice of protein, we can all massively benefit from eating a mostly wholefood, plant-based diet. We should be eating loads of veggies. Loads more than we imagine (around 9 mugfuls a day! Yes! 9 mugfuls!). Then add to that healthy fats and well-sourced protein: whether that’s plant or animal based…depending on what’s right for YOU!
Everyone benefits from increasing the veggie content in their meals throughout the day. Often when you up your vegetable intake you end up crowding out some of the less helpful, more toxic foods that you were eating and from there you start to see surges in energy, you find that you sleep better, experience less brain fog and sometimes see weight shift too.
So, my reason for not being a vegan?
It boils down to the answer to the question ‘How do I want to show up in this world?’
Full of energy, sharp and focussed, curious, passionate, vital. If I feel like this then I can make better decisions every single day about my life: to help me look after my body, my mind, my children, my beloved, my environment and how I show up to serve others.
For me, eating occasional small amounts of very well-sourced animal protein with large amounts of plants has me feeling the best in myself. Whereas shifting that to eating a grain and legume based diet with plants has me lacking energy, feeling bloated and experiencing more symptoms. No thanks!
So this is an invitation to tune into YOU!
Gus is in Malta teaching classes on how to integrate natural solutions like essential oils into your daily wellness routine. There are classes on 11th, 12th and 13th September in Malta and Gozo. If you’d like to join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to save your space or do so via the “Be Marvellous” Event Page on Facebook.