The Power of Mindfulness and Meditation
As I slip a piece of mint into my mouth, I wonder about the refined sugar that I’m making my body process. I also wonder as I open a package of macaroni and cheese how the cheese sauce has been reduced to a processed heap of powder using machines and devoid of any kind of love or positive energy.
Food has energy. Not just the obvious fuel that it gives us, but a more subtle energy that it picks up from the way it’s processed and handled.
I think about this subtle energy in the foods I eat – whether animal or plant, refined sugar or plant-based.
Where is this awareness coming from?
It’s meditation. It’s incorporating mindfulness into my everyday life. It’s wanting to be kind and finally giving into my own sensitivity and wanting to create harmony all around me.
A Mindful Food Journey
I tried being vegan once. I wanted to save the planet. I wanted to be kind to my body. I wanted to not consume anything from sweet animals that I couldn’t bear to think might have suffered on my behalf.
It lasted two days. And I fell off the vegan carnival wagon. Apparently, I wasn’t ready for this.
I grew up on Southwestern food: enchiladas with cheese, pinto beans with cheese and sopapillas, posole with pork, and more.
Aside from the fact that my mom is a phenomenal cook, I had come to adore cheese.
The tofu variety tasted like barely-edible wax and I couldn’t stand it.
So, I scaled back to being vegetarian.
That was all good and well until my husby lost handfuls of pounds that he couldn’t afford to lose (he’s naturally at his minimum weight for his 6’4″ frame thanks to a speedy metabolism).
We ate all the things that they said to eat: edamame, tofu, tempeh (we didn’t eat enough of this), beans and rice and other protein-packed plant-based foods.
But he still lost weight and all that high quality food added up to more than our mortgage every month.
We had to rethink the idea of vegetarianism.
We wanted to eat healthfully, but at the time, we weren’t ready.
Eating Meat and Dairy Is Terrible for the Planet
I recently read an article by The Guardian that reported how our rising global population and rising meat consumption are all negatively impacting climate change.
Indeed, agriculture that raises animals for slaughter is one of the worst things we can do for the planet: the deforestation involved, the land areas needed, the sheer amount of precious freshwater needed, and the greenhouse gases they produce all contribute to a perfect storm of a planet pleading for humans to become vegetarians, if not vegan.
So, I am faced with three dilemmas: how to keep husby from losing weight, how to do my part to address this complex issue, and the fact that if I were left to my own devices, I couldn’t slaughter an animal. I can’t even look at a papercut and not get woozy.
We have decided to once again move toward vegetarianism. However, we are doing it slowly: both of us have parents who are part of the “gotta have meat with every meal” generation. Shared meals at their houses invariably mean that we eat meat-based dinners.
Because I’m a conflict averse type of person, I also feel badly when I’m visiting somewhere and I tell folks, “I know you eat meat, but no meat for me, please,” and then they have to make something different and special for me.
And it’s hard to walk the line of “I brought my own food so that you don’t have to accommodate me and my special diet” with not feeling like I’m insulting parents and other family or friends who want to show they care by cooking for us.
So what do we do?
Well, we’d like to stay on the carnival wagon and not fall off.
We make the transition slowly and, for now, reserve eating meat for those parental visits. They’re in their 70s and 80s and changing a lifelong habit at that stage in life in unlikely to happen.
(Besides, imposing my beliefs on others is the opposite of what I want to do. If folks decide that the life I live and the things I say resonate, then that’s great. If not, going and finding another tribe is a necessary step.)
Our “Moving Toward Vegetarianism” List
- We have resolved to eat avian or pescatarian when we do consume animal products. Essentially, we’re “flexitarians.”
- We make most of our meals vegetarian during the week.
- We hope to move toward eating more vegetarian foods. I’ll work on my cheesy habits and strive to acquire a taste for alternative plant-based cheese products.
- I resolve to continue doing research to help us make the transition back to vegetarianism. I admit that husby needs meat (at this point) more than I do. When I buy chicken at the store now, though, I can’t help but wonder what kind of life the animal had. I imagine it wasn’t probably that great, even if it was farm raised, free range, organic, etc., etc.
- We’ll start looking for all-star meat substitutes. We already make chili and lasagne with veggie crumbles, but bacon meat substitutes still taste…like some kind of plant cellulose. To save on the cost – because these foods aren’t typically on sale at the grocery store or that cheap – we’ll do other alternatives: beans and rice and tempeh and Greek yogurt.
But right now, I’m resolving to do better. I’m resolving to incorporate better foods that also can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other ailments. That are kinder to the planet. And that are humane and decent to animals.
It’s definitely not just meat and dairy that I think about: it’s all foods. Meat and dairy are my biggest concerns but other foods concern me, too: what they are, how they were processed, how they were grown, if there was any suffering involved.
I think about it all the time now….It’s a side-effect of meditation. It’s a good one, though. The voice inside my head is calling me to eat more healthfully and understand food as direct and subtle energy.