This week has been a whirlwind for me. It has been one of the most tumultous but also exhilirating experiences I have had in years. I had a very difficult family situation arise which I handled to the best of my abilities. I think that sometimes you just habe to take a step back and say that in that moment, I did everything I could. Working in healthcare really helped me develop that skill in the workplace but applying it to my personal life has always been a bit of a challenge.
After that difficult situation passed however, I embarked on another journey that has changed my life. First, I met a stranger at the airport who, on any normal day, I would have ignored and tried not to talk to. However after having such a long and exhausting day, rather than shutting down I wanted to talk to someone to help recharge for the conference I was heading to. So I engaged with this man and we ended up forming a connection. He lived in Orange County, California and suggested Hamilton Beach when I told him I had never seen the Pacific Ocean before.
The next day I had some free time before the conference started so I met him there for lunch and I got to dip my toes into the Pacific ocean for the first time! It was absolutely beautiful and I was so excited to see so many people surfing. It’s rare to see surfers on the East Coast and it was really cool to see them taking advantage of the huge waves crashing down the coast. The company was also great and it was really refreshing to share a meal with a relative stranger in a new place.
Forming new connections was the theme of this week because once the conference started I was absolutely blown away at the kindness and passion of the people in attendance. From the moment I got there I was approached by people wanting to know about me and hear my story. I made connections with medical doctors, nurses, health coaches, and advocates who are so passionate about changing the health of the country and the world through plant based medicine. As the conference went on, I learned why animal fats are terrible for you (and, sadly, why the Whole30 program and paleo diets are not good for us). I am willing to admit when I’m wrong, and I don’t regret my almost completing a whole 30 program because it’s been party of my journey. I’m just at the beginning and I’m loving everything that I’m learning.
Besides the various health benefits of eating plant based, I also learned about the difficulties of getting people to think about taking control of their health much less acting on it. I learned about how we’ve known about the benefits of plant based diets for years but the medical and general healthcare community has ignored the research and pegged the people who eat healthy as radical and going against the status quo. But most importantly, I learned how there are passionate people all over the world who want to push for change and that it is completely possible by building a community of people who care about others.
Can I say that I’ll never eat meat again? Probably not. But I can say that after four days of complete immersion with peer reviewed, medical research to support how healthy this lifestyle is I will definitely be eliminating it from my regular diet. I will also be eliminating dairy and eggs. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting this week on how I want to apply this lifestyle to my own life and I think I’ve found something that will work. Dean Ornish spoke this week about the “Spectrum” of health and how you need to decide how healthy you want to be. I don’t want to completely isolate myself from my social groups and I know that in the town I live in, being completely vegan with no oil will be difficult. So, I’m going to try to live mostly vegan at home by continuing to cook all of my meals (I’m not going to lie, I’ll probably use oils occasionally although I will definitely start reducing the amount I use). And when I go out, I’ll just have to make healthier choices and choose to be vegetarian at most restaurants. I believe in the Spectrum and I think that it makes sense not to isolate yourself from social situations (and occasional treats because lets be real, we all indulge from time to time). But I’m even more excited to start the next phase of my journey which involves learning how to cook and enjoy my food even if they are all plant based.