I recently had a deep exchange with an unapologetic non-meat eater who put something into perspective for me that I had never thought about before and I felt that this was something that should be shared. My friend John (not his real name) grew up in Jamaica where veganism is taught from a spiritual outlook. This practice is rooted in the Rastafarian religion known as “Ital” (pronounced eye-tal) which is a variation on the word 'vital'. The followers within this belief system only eat unmodified food from the earth around them which is mandatory in the Nyabinghi Mansion of Rastafari. Many Rastafari who practice Ital believe that processed foods affect your mind, body, & soul in negative ways.
“The healthy eating and vegan lifestyle, that still is my father. What is called "vegan" eating, we called "Ital" since the '60s. Now we see vegan becoming popular, when Ital always was part of our culture for years.” - JAHMAN MCKENZIE (owner of Veggies Natural Juice Bar in Brooklyn, New York)
My Meat Free Journey
Now before I continue sharing more of Johns enlightening conversation, let me share my own journey to becoming a meat-free eater. My journey with cutting out meat from my diet didn't start from birth or at a young age. I come from a country that is comprised of over 150 tribes and I happen to come from the tribe that is known for indulging in all things meat. In fact, it wasn’t considered a meal unless there was some meat on the plate and so I grew up eating meat almost every day. When I would come across non-meat eaters, I would be rubbed the wrong way because they would come off as self-righteous and judgemental and I just wanted to enjoy my chicken nuggets in peace without being guilted or shamed. Besides, maintaining a vegan lifestyle is expensive and impractical, or so I thought. All that changed around the time I turned 16.
The Wake-Up Call
I love animals (we have 2 cats and a dog) and I remember stumbling across a video of animals being tortured and I was left shaken and traumatized - all this cruelty just so I could enjoy a darn cheeseburger! I was changed forever and soon one video led to another and I found myself posting pictures showcasing animal cruelty and things of that nature. The change was gradual as I slowly started cutting meat from my diet and eventually I quit it all together and became a full-fledged vegan. Remember those self-righteous vegans I was trying to avoid before? Well, I joined their rank and turned into one of them - a preachy self-righteous vegan and it sure did piss a lot of people off. Oh, how the tables had turned! It was hard to not tell somebody about my new lifestyle because it really is a life-altering experience, especially at the beginning. After, about a year and a half, I transitioned into a pescatarian, where I would still eat vegan and non-dairy products, but with the occasional fish. Buying fish on the regular was turning out to be unrealistic, so after about 6 months later I decided to make the change and become a vegetarian, which is what I am now. I throw in some organic eggs into my diet every once in a while and that has been working for me especially in dealing with my unknown cause of anemia, which I will save for another blog post because vegan protein and getting the right amount of iron is very important when cutting off meat completely.
The number of vegans has spiked over the last couple of years and it doesn't look like it is slowing down. However, the commercialization of veganism, particularly in the west, has turned it into the latest fad diet that large corporations are banking on and marketing to fit fluctuating trends. John wanted me to understand that this wasn’t just a diet, but a way of life that encompasses every aspect of ones being. The primary focus of eating unprocessed foods and being meat-free shouldn’t just be because of my love of animals, though this is an important component. The primary focus should be on what is known is energy.
The Power of Energy
We eat food to give us energy. We go outside and soak up the sun not to just receive vitamins, but also to tap into one of our natural energy sources. Energy is the underlying component in our everyday life, which everyone needs, including plants and animals. There is also such a thing as bad energy or as this generation calls it "bad vibes". When an animal has been slaughtered, the energy it gives off is "fear". Remember, everything has energy or a vibration, including plants. When you pick up nature and consume it, there are no risks or bad energy about consuming what Mother Nature has given us. That's the beautiful thing about it! When you fully understand how energy works and how it can be passed on from one host to another, you can then understand how to properly nourish your body.
My illuminating conversation with John was truly a moment of enlightenment that has provided me with a fresh perspective of being conscious of not just the body but the mind and soul as well! To help your mind, soul, and body journey here are some high energy foods that you should be consuming on the regular. Nut butter, tahini, coconut, avocado, bananas, almonds, hummus, hemp seeds and hemp oil, beans and lentils, sprouts, oats, and oatmeal. You can find more high energy foods by clicking here.
Sending positive energy your way! xoxo