Thursday, October 13, 2011

My long and slow conversion to the Green Revolution

Growing up the youngest of seven in a military family with no semblance of a green culture I could never have envisioned that at 29 I would be identifying myself as a Raw foodist, vegan, and health nut. When my husband and I started dating, 23 yrs, he had already termed me a Hippie so I guess this conversion has been going on a long time but now I feel I am fully converted. The tipping point was the Documentary I watched last night called the Vanishing of the Bees, a light bulb went off and I decided you know what I am no longer ashamed – I am a tree hugger and I don’t care who knows it! Today as I was eating my sprouted bread sandwich with organic veggies I thought to myself…how has this happened to me and why has it taken me this long when obviously I was doomed to this lifestyle long ago.

1. My Grandmother the Health Food guru– All she would ever talk about was health food, and she even owned a health food store out of her garage. We would have to sneak Taco Time while staying at her house because basically all she fed us were vegetables and goat milk.

2. Patriarchal blessing – My blessing talks a lot about food and praying over everything I eat and even says that “Satan is influencing food producers to put harmful chemicals in their crops”! Other things should have also been an early sign that food, health and the environment would be an important part of my life such as my health problems.

3. Health problems – PCOS, chronic food poisoning, general illness, infertility, weight. From a young age I have just been sickly, especially with stomach issues. I get food poisoning and nausea more than anyone I have ever met, if I don’t get food poisoning once every three months I am lucky, and if you have never had food poisoning just pray you never do, it is horrible! I have had back problems, shin splits (especially when running a lot), general tiredness, oversensitivity to cold, psoriasis, and other random problems. When I started trying to get pregnant it was discovered I have PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome), which is like pre-diabetes and causes infertility. I always struggled with my weight and it is so hard for me to lose weight despite constant efforts (this is due to my PCOS which makes you hold onto weight). During all these health problems I would try every diet – Adkins, Carbohyrdate Adikts diet, Big Breakfast diet, etc…which varying degrees of success. I also started excising a lot, mostly running, which helped but still I didn’t lose the weight I should have for how much I was working out and restricting my diet.

4. Distrust of Doctors/Scientists - Since my youth I have always distrusted authority and I hate to admit it I didn’t have much respect for it either (ask any of my high school teachers). Since then I have reformed my disrespectful ways but have retained my belief that doctors and basically anyone who tells me they know better than me is often wrong and I am better off trying to figure things out for myself.

5. Environmental studies major – I love learning about the world and at BYU decided to major in Geography and eventually determined on the Environmental Studies major. My courses focused on biology, geology, ecology and earth science subjects and I gained a great love and respect for nature. I also became aware of all the environmental issues threatening our world.

6. Living in Africa/China – While at BYU I did four study abroad/volunteer trips each summer (China, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa) and also served a mission in South Africa and as I saw the beauty of nature in Africa, the animals and general well being of the environment there I often thought back to the complete environmental collapse I had witnessed in China. It smelled bad (the rivers smelled like rotten eggs), I couldn’t breathe, I was vomited probably a hundred times and I think I picked up quite a few parasites.

7. Desire to save the world – When I went to Tanzania, doing environmental research on Mt. Kilimanjaro, I developed a deep love for African children and a great desire to help them. Coming back to BYU I got involved in all sorts of activities with people with a desire to help the oppressed and those same people were invariably interested in saving the environment.

8. Research - I would say the main reason I have turned to the “Green Movement” is the research I have done to try and get myself healthy and help my children’ avoid the health problems I have had. The following have had the greatest impact on me.

Boys adrift, girls on the edge – These books made me realize that the more synthetic our children’s lives are (video games, social media), the lazier, more unhappy, and less successful they become. The more they enjoy nature and eat healthy foods the better off they will become.

FoodMatters- I really love this documentary. It really helped me see that Food is the Key to Health and more importantly I have the choice to make myself healthy or to continue in the struggle.

Raw Food Detox Diet – This started me on the path to clearing my body of the toxins put there by our unhealthy environment and start losing weight with real food, the way God made it. I also saw that meat and dairy really were making me sick and fat, I know because I have seen the tremendous benefits I have gained from going vegan for three months.

Fork over KnivesThis confirmed my long held belief that the meat and dairy lobbies are brainwashing us.

In defense of foodReal Food is the best food! Now I really want to get a yard so I can start a garden.

Vanishing of the BeesDestroying the environment and putting pesticides on our food is not only slowly killing us (carcinogens and weight problems) but also killing bees and therefore threatening our food system with collapse.

The World of Wisdom - When I really read it as written, and took away my preconceived notions I saw that God advices us to : Not eat meat unless in times of famine or winter when other foods can't be had, eat lots of good grains and food IN SEASON (this means local since strawberries I buy now are not in season so they must be from some far away land).

Turned me off from becoming a Hippie:

Exaggeration: I remember reading The Skeptical Environmentalist and while not agreeing with everything he said, I do believe that Environmentalist do themselves a big disservice by exaggerating how bad things are in the environment.

Ridicule: I come from a long line of cowboys and hippie hating meat eaters.

My grandma – Health Advice 24/7 isn’t fun and being judged for eating a brownie or steak is annoying.

Animals over people – Animal Rights Activist make me mad cause come one…lets first solve the problem of children being abused or sold into slavery and then I will worry about the owls. Of course it is important to be kind to all animals and I don't go around kicking puppies, we need to be compassionate but I think it is important to keep our priorities where they should be - people first.

Its hard to be a vegan – Technically I am not a full vegan because I do eat eggs and fish sometime…but it’s not easy in social settings, I don’t want to offend anyone or put people out with special meals (I try and be flexible since I don’t see it as a religion just healthy-eating) and people don’t seem to really like vegans for varying reasons..Some deserved I am sure. Also I don’t really subscribe to a lot of the vegan stuff – a lot of vegans won’t eat anything that even has a milligram of milk in it, they are way over the top animal rights activist, don’t wear deodorant or makeup, and dress only from Goodwill.

6 comments:

  1. Allison, I'm vegan. Went vegan almost two years ago for many of the same reasons. I've never felt better in my life. Got rid of my migraines,allergies and just love the way that I feel: closer to my values and living them each day. If you ever need anything, let me know. Take things step by step. Don't overwhelm yourself as you learn and adapt. It's a lot easier than it seems. I'm not too good at updating our blog (working on that) but you can always email me or facebook. A few of my other friends have gone raw/vegan lately. It's fun to see people change. If you guys are still in Pennsylvania for a bit and coming to DC,we'll have to go eat at a vegan place, they have a bunch of good vegan restaurants.
    Good luck and enjoy your new adventure!

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  3. Allyson,

    I want to hear more about the raw part. Am I just dumb that I don't get it? Is it just eating only fruits and vegetables? What does "raw" mean or does it mean no refined sugar and wheat? I guess I could google it! Good luck!

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  4. Great story Allyson. We've also watched Food Matters and read In Defense of Food. We haven't gone as far you and gone vegan, but we try to stay away from the processed foods, and eat out very little.

    Inspiring story, though!

    Luv your cuz,

    Ashley Flake Dilsaver

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  5. You've inspired me! I've done it for 4 days now and I've never felt better. Thanks Ally

    Lucinda

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  6. Once I move to California, I'm on board. I'm so happy you are doing this and seeing all the positive benefits!

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