No, You Don’t Have To Be Vegan, Vegetarian, Or Paleo To Be Healthy

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Brooke Lark / Unsplash

Let me begin by saying that your choice of lifestyle is completely your own and I am not, by any means, trying to change that. I want to commend you for consciously thinking about your health and exploring different avenues to achieving your definition of vitality. It takes deliberate thought and action to do so, so if you’re a vegan, or a vegetarian, or paleo, or whatever other terms you identify yourself with – great!

But labels are limiting.

They outline a hard set of rules which you must follow, a long list of CAN’Ts or SHOULDN’Ts, and make you small enough to fit in a box with a stamp on it that tends to identify more than your eating preference. A label comes with a personality – mostly a stereotype – that tells the world who you are. This can be limiting.

I remember when I was in high school, I went through my phase of listening to “emo” music but you would have never known by taking a look at me. I didn’t wear the uniform with the label across my chest. I didn’t identify myself as one because of the many different connotations that listening to that type of music came with.

I think the same can be said about labels about our eating habits. When we fully identify with a label, we tend to fill in the blanks of who we are. It becomes easier to tell ourselves, and the rest of the world, who we are because the category we decide to be a part of has done the work for us. It can define us in ways that might go against our true self. I am not saying that this is the case for YOU, but it’s worth considering when joining any category – when putting any label on yourself.

Another thing worth noting is that we are all so beautifully different from one another, inside and out. This means that our recipe for health and vitality also differs greatly. It is not possible to outline a list of foods and call it universal health. Health is personal.

I encourage you to practice conscious eating.

What is conscious eating?

Just another label – but one that doesn’t have set boundaries. A label that is personal to your state of health and being. Conscious eating means putting thought to the eating process.

How are you eating your food?

Are you sitting, standing? Are you watching TV or reading? Are you in a rush? Are you thinking about a thousand and one other things when you’re eating? Are you saying thank you to the fuel that feeds your everyday activities?

What foods are you eating?

Are you eating foods that you have to take out of a package? Are you eating greens, reds, yellows, purples? Do you have to wash dirt off your food, or remove plastic?

Where did your food come from?

Did your food travel more than you have today? In the past year? Ever?? Did it come from the Earth or a machine? Was it made in a lab?

How was the food grown?

Was it grown on a farm or assembled in a factory? Are pesticides used? Hormones? Is it genetically modified?

How does the food impact the Earth and our environment?

Is it sustainable? What is happening to the soil, the climate, our ecosystems?

How ethical is the food?

How were the animals and humans treated during the process?

The topic of health goes beyond what foods we’re consuming. Being conscious of the big picture of the food industry and process will allow you to make better decisions regarding your health and the health of our Earth (which directly affects your health).

Becoming aware is the first step to making a positive change. If you’re on the path of self-improvement, you can’t bypass your health. At the core of any personal growth is your health. Be conscious of your eating habits and identify what you believe in outside of the labels that have been predetermined. TC mark

One story, told five ways…

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