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In Search of Tao in my Tai Chi

February 14th, 2011 No comments

Last night I attended the Chinese New Year banquet of that was organized by the Taoist Tai Chi club in Vancouver.  Tai Chi-ers were there from across the lower mainland.  We occupied the entire Gain Wah restaurant in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.  Six platters of different seafood (oysters, crab, lobster, squid), chicken and pork were served before any vegetables.  I think I sat with an empty plate and a sorry little cup of tea for the first hour and a half watching the other eight people feast with regular looks and comments of concern (or other thoughts I could not interpret) for my stomach-in-waiting.

At first I was really disappointed that I was the only vegetarian there because on previous occassions at the club, there were at least 10%  vegetarians and the orders for food were made to meet that demand.  Did all those values and principles go out the window for the sake of observing a Chinese New Year feast?

“How long have you been vegetarian?” one woman asked me.  “Since October,” I said, “about the same time I started Tai Chi.  By the silent response and gaze down, I take it that my fledgling status as either or both were not substantive enough to be taken seriously.  In her senior position (as tai chi student and by age) I bet she was thinking, ‘Why don’t you just eat something?  It’s not going to kill you!’  In fact, that’s what my mom’s says in an effort to get me to eat her cooking with fish or chicken in it.  And it’s true, it wouldn’t kill me on the spot, but nothing about it would feel good.

I enjoy the challenge of refining the moves of Tai Chi and meeting people in the club.  I enjoy the challenge of eating a plant-based diet in a culture addicted to animal products.  And both of these lifestyle choices support each other and me in my constant movement towards optimal health.  Learning about Tai Chi principles and practicing them requires attention, and in a similar manner, so does eating a plant-based diet.

It felt a bit lonely for the first hour and a half being the only one not feasting, but not one moment passed that I wished to join the meat feast.  “You’re demonstrating a lot of discipline, Janice,” another woman said.

I replied, “I started Tai Chi to help me with my discipline, so I guess it’s working.”  In actuality, there was no temptation so it wasn’t much of a demonstration of discipline.

Call me crazy, but to exercise in a practice like Tai Chi and then feast out on loads of animals seems like a sanity I would rather not be.

No meat, no Dairy? Get out! (Day 3)

September 3rd, 2010 No comments

I cycled around the city again after 5 weeks of limited movement and I am so happy for it. It’s been a year since I’ve visited one of my favourite local grocers in the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood, Home Grow-In, and it felt great to return and see how much they have grown. Deb and her staff are so friendly and helpful and the atmosphere is one of conscious community that loves the Earth and its bounty. They have chairs outside to relax and enjoy the freshly delivered produce that comes from within 100 miles of the city. I took a few minutes to sit and enjoy an orange and freshly baked multi-grain bread. It was very simple and yet satisfying for a snack.

This one act of taking the time to seek out quality nourishment in a practice of yoga, exercise and fresh vegetables completely shifted my state well-being to one lighter and less worrisome than when I had left the house.

Fridge Cleanse – Day 3 of Big Green Challenge

September 1st, 2010 No comments

Today was the big fridge cleanse. I replaced the mayonnaise with vegenaise, replenished my almond milk supply, and went to the Japanese food grocer to get miso soup base and mochi for the dairy free dessert recipes in The Kind Diet. It felt great to explore the aisles of the local health food market and see how many delicious options there are for dairy free meals.

I brought the new ingredients home and made a delicious variation of Kim’s Red Radish Tabouleh. It was beautiful to look at and delicious to chew. My version used limes instead of lemon, green onion in place of scallions and I added a bit of heat with a sliced jalapeno pepper. Healthy for mind, body and wallet!

I was so excited to share this meal and my accomplishment of having made it, that I did a video chat with a friend as I prepared and ate my dinner. After showing off my bowl of tabouleh, I asked him to help me get over a communication breakdown that I am experiencing with a co-worker. In short, we (let’s call the other person, “A”) were working together, and then it became difficult as we learned of our differences of opinions and modes of productivity, at which point we decided that it would be best not to work together. Person (A) then started working with someone else (B), and I shifted my focus to continue working solo. A few weeks pass and then recently, I was approached by person B requesting that I return to working with person A. My friend listened to a longer version of this summary and he asked me some fundamental questions which I reluctantly considered. And then he made the statement that brings me to write half of this article, “So basically,” he speaks with a low and deliberate tone, “we’re talking about you doing something that you don’t want to do, to get to where you want to go.” I want to work with person B, but working with person A is part of that package.

And so I started thinking about how this also applies to making fundamental lifestyle choices that are difficult to change, like what we eat. We want to be healthy and vibrant and physically fit, but are we willing to do the things we do not want to do in order to create the desired results? We do not want to get cancer, but are we willing to make the lifestyle choices that will prevent us from doing so? Most people want clean drinking water and green spaces to play and a balanced eco-system, and just as many people do not want to make the changes that will sustain those precious things. And denial, by it’s nature, has no awareness of its danger or power. So how will change occur? A few optimistic and brave people begin to try new things, or try old things with a new perspective. In my case, the old thing I’m trying with a new perspective is a meat and dairy free diet. And with a bit help, reaching deep down for humility and grace, new possibilities may emerge with peoples A & B. Experience tells me that I can try again.

I have been a vegetarian before and I found that it was difficult to sustain due to my tendency towards iron deficiency. This time around, I am using Isagenix nutritional supplements and cleansing products so I feel confident that I am getting all my minerals and nutrients. I think the Isagenix supplements are helping with my cravings, making it easier to stay on track and feel satiated with less food, because my body is getting all it needs for balanced nutrition.

Big Green Challenge 2010 – Vegetarian Adventures

August 31st, 2010 No comments

I had a dream this morning that I was killed like livestock. When I opened my eyes, my conscience said, “You are going vegetarian!”

A compelling feeling that I will eliminate meat from my daily intake first emerged when I sat down in a Vegan eatery called Loving Hut on Broadway near Cambie. I tasted the Ocean Love pizza, my first slice of vegan pizza! While I chewed the delicious pesto on crispy crust with melted cassava cheese, I looked at the wall of pictures featuring famous vegetarians and felt a compelling urge to join them. I thought, if people like Ghandi, Einstein and Edison considered it important to keep meat off their plates, there must be many good reasons to do so. I had been thinking of making this change for quite some time and have previously been on a plant-based diet 15 years ago. The most difficult times that I can remember was confronting the social gatherings with family and friends. Fortunately, I now associate with more vegetarians and people who appreciate my choice to eat plants.

The affirming wave of conviction to go veggie washed over me while reading the first 30 pages of Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. I am so inspired by her writing and excited to try all the recipes.
To kick start this exciting change, I’ve decided to write about my Vegetarian Adventures. Yes, I know…I’ve attempted something like this before when I set out to blog about learning how to swim last year. But here goes another try anyway, to try something new and write about my experiences and discoveries. I will set out to have my meat and dairy intake levels at zero for the next 30 days. God help me! I love ice cream and my mother’s cooking, which almost always involves pork, chicken or shrimp.

I realize this will take a great deal of effort and commitment ( two things I have demonstrated poorly as a blogger), but I am optimistic about overcoming these shortcomings along with the inevitable cravings for meat and diary because, the more I learn about their effects on the Earth and their connection to disease, the temporary pleasure at the plate quickly loses its appeal.

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