National Vegetarian Month

October is National Vegetarian Month. According to Wikipedia, the purpose is to “bring awareness to the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. World Vegetarian Day initiates the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, which ends with November 1, World Vegan Day, as the end of that month of celebration.”

As I am practicing a 7 Day Raw Food Cleanse this week, I consider it serendipitous that I began the cleanse in the month of October. Although I’ve been plant based for a couple of years, eating raw fruits and veggies this week has raised my awareness of and gratitude for this health lifestyle.

I don’t often offer reasons for why this is a great lifestyle. Instead, I prefer to live my life as an example of one who has benefitted greatly from changing my diet, and answer questions when people ask. In honor of the month, and the week I am experiencing, and truly, in honor of the extraordinary healing I have received, consider the facts below about eating more fruits and veggies.

National Vegetarian Month

Defining Vegetarian

First let’s look at the definitions of three words that are frequently used interchangeably.

Vegetarian – a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.

Vegan – a person who does not eat or use any animal products.

Plant Based – a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products.

Vegetarians avoid meat but may use other animal products. Vegans strictly avoid ALL animal products including honey and beeswax, leather, silk, wool and fur, and cosmetics containing animal products or that were tested on animals. Plant based eaters choose whole foods and avoid meat, dairy, eggs and fish but may use honey or wear clothing derived from animals.

The thing all three groups have in common is that they don’t eat meat.

I classify myself as plant based. I do use organic honey, although I probably wouldn’t if producing it killed the bees, but I avoid most other animal based products in all areas of my life.

National Vegetarian Month

Why Eliminate Meat?

From Forks Over Knives:

1. Reduces inflammation in the body, lowering risks of heart attacks, strokes and autoimmune diseases.

2. Lowers cholesterol.

3. Gives the body’s microbiome a makeover, which reduces the risks for obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and liver disease.

4. Positively changes how our genes work, slowing the aging process.

5. Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. Animal fat, animal-based iron, and nitrate preservatives in meat have been found to damage pancreatic cells, worsen inflammation, cause weight gain, and impair the way our insulin functions.

6. Gives the body the right kind, and right amount, of protein, reducing risk for cancer. The average omnivore in the US gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein, most of it from animal sources. Excess protein is stored as fat or turned into waste, and animal protein is a major cause of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer. On the other hand, the protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases.

7. Makes a huge impact on the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Animal agriculture is destructive to the planet. It is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and is a leading cause of land and water use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. About 2,000 gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef in the US. Oceans are rapidly becoming depleted of fish; by some estimates, oceans may be fishless by 2048. The current food system, based on meat and dairy production, also contributes to world hunger—the majority of crops grown worldwide go toward feeding livestock, not feeding people.

Equally important, animals raised for food are sentient beings who suffer, whether raised in industrial factory farms or in farms labeled “humane.” Eating a plant-based diet helps us lead a more compassionate life. After all, being healthy is not just about the food we eat; it’s also about our consciousness—our awareness of how our choices affect the planet and all of those with whom we share it.

National Vegetarian Month

Celebrating National Vegetarian Month

I get it. Change can be difficult. My switch to plant based was initially to shift my health. As my body healed, I became aware of the other benefits that extended beyond my own health.

Here are ways you can increase your fruit and veggie intake, even if you don’t feel ready to make big changes.

• Create a Meatless Monday and/or a Fresh Food Friday meal each week, experimenting with new foods, prepared in new ways. Plant based doesn’t mean boring salads. Far from it!

• Look up recipes on Pinterest for inspiration. In the search bar type Plant Based Recipes or Vegan Meals.

• Instead of starting the day with a heavy breakfast or sugary cereals, try a fruit smoothie. Combine bananas with fresh or frozen fruit or greens and just enough water to make the smoothie pourable.

• Replace a soda, or two, with herbal teas or a fresh juice. Run your favorite fruits and veggies through a juicer and enjoy.

• Take a plant based cooking class, online or in person, and learn new ways to prepare nutritious meals.

• Plant a garden and benefit from growing your own food.

• Go grocery shopping with a friend and challenge each other to shop from the produce section only. Brainstorm together and come up with meals to create from the abundance there.

National Vegetarian Month

It’s About Life

The best way for me to celebrate National Vegetarian Month, other than taking excellent care of my health and wellbeing, is to make a positive impact on others. An opportunity appeared this afternoon, to discuss the benefits of a plant based lifestyle with a young man working in a grocery store. He studied my shopping cart and then curious, asked me good questions about why I eat the way I do.

How long have you been plant based? Why did you change your diet? Was it difficult? What about the holidays? Do you skip the turkey?

We had a wonderful conversation. His openness allowed me to be open. I wasn’t trying to force him to change. He wasn’t trying to defend his choices or ridicule mine. We simply discussed what it means to be plant based, and the impact animal agriculture is having. And we chatted about health and how crucial food is to keeping our bodies running smoothly, or not.

I appreciated him. And I am grateful for this whole month set aside to increase awareness of what it means, to individuals, to animals, to the planet, to be vegetarian, vegan or plant based.

Giving up sugar, dairy, eggs and meat isn’t a death sentence. It’s a life sentence. Long may we all live, in the greatest possible health.

National Vegetarian Month

Euphoria: Health, Well Borne

I stirred briefly last night, my consciousness rising from some vague dream, mumbling a single word: euphoria. Speaking aloud woke me up enough to wonder why that particular word was important, and to lock the experience into my memory. Sleep claimed me again.

This morning I recalled the incident with a chuckle. It’s not unusual for me to wake with a word, movie quote or the snippet of a song in my head. What’s important is that I’ve learned to pay attention to these seemingly random thoughts.

Euphoria Health Well Borne

What is this feeling?

A few months after I shifted into a plant based lifestyle in 2016, these incredible feelings of joy would suddenly wash over me, seemingly from no where. In fact, I was usually alone, engaging in an ordinary, routine task like driving or tidying the kitchen.

What is this feeling? I would wonder.

I’m naturally a happy person who can be annoyingly upbeat and positive. However these waves of energy were intense…deeply experienced…and they inspired gratitude. I knew enough to identify the feeling as euphoria. Yet I never questioned the source, beyond believing that my improving health perhaps contributed to the sensation.

I eventually decided that I had lived with pain for so long, that I had forgotten what healthy felt like.

Euphoria Health Well Borne

Defining Euphoria

The euphoric moments have continued, and increased in frequency. Multiple times a week, and sometimes daily, this inexplicable joy surges through me, radiating outward from the center of my being, my heart. Tears fill my eyes even as my mouth curves into a smile.

Early this morning, I reached for my phone. After waking up with the word escaping my lips, it was time to dig deeper. I looked up euphoria.

By definition, euphoria is “a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness“. From my research I found that alcohol, stimulants, and exercise can induce euphoria, as can success. These episodes are typically brief, and none of these are the sources of my own experiences.

Looking at the origin of the word provided a clue. Euphoria comes from the Greek words eu – well and pherein- to bear. Combined the words morphed into euphoros – well borne, healthy and later the word that we know today.

My instinctive association between euphoria and health proved accurate. The “intense feeling of happiness” is a result of my body bearing well the state of good health.

Euphoria Health Well Borne

Producing Euphoria

For the past month, I’ve considered entering into a raw food cleanse. My healing journey began two plus years ago, with a 28 day cleanse, in which I only ate raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Although I’ve experienced a week long juice cleanse and I eat raw foods about half of the time, I’ve not participated in a fully raw cleanse since 2016.

Guided by euphoria, I stocked up today on fresh organic fruits and veggies. My freezer is filled with bags of organic fruit as well, for morning or evening smoothies. My sister Linda, who is taking charge of her own health and well being, joined me on a fun shopping trip.

For the next week, and possibly beyond, I’ll nurture my body with nutrient dense foods that will deliver health at a cellular level. My digestive system gets a break while my liver detoxes. The journey will be documented on my other blog site, Journey With Healthy Me. Follow along there.

Photographing some of my life giving produce this evening, that incredible feeling of joy rose and I laughed. My body is already vibrating at a higher energy level, in response to the sight of such gorgeous food. I nibbled on sprouts and sampled cherry tomatoes, sweet strawberries and tart blackberries. It feels like such a loving thing to do for myself.

I’m excited. I’m euphoric. Healthy truly does feel incredible.

Euphoria Health Well Borne

A Story About Legs

Contemplating what story to tell, at almost 10:00 pm, I thought back over my day. It was a long one, full of joys and appointments. I showed property, climbed stairs, crawled in and out of the car multiple times, trotted across parking lots, got drenched during a thunderstorm, sat for extended periods of time, shared meals with grandkids. None of those activities are unusual, except that two and a half years ago, I would not have been able to put in such a day. The reoccurring thought that I entertained today was one of gratitude for my legs. This is a story about legs.

A Story About Legs

For years I took my legs for granted. They got me around and I never gave them much thought, beyond occasional dissatisfaction with the way they looked or the fact that I toe in when I walk, due to my hip joints.

After a serious car accident in 1995, I became much more aware of my legs because of damage to my low back. Inflammation set in, in my sciatic nerves, and thus began my journey with chronic pain.

I can’t adequately describe the agony of living with chronic pain. Sitting, standing, and walking were all uncomfortable. Muscles tightened around my knees, to the point that those joints would lock and not want to straighten out if I sat or slept with legs bent. They tightened in my calves as well. My nerves became so sensitive to touch that jeans and slacks against my skin created constant irritation and the soles of my feet could feel the texture of my socks. My feet didn’t like that. Restless legs kept me from sleeping well at night and long rides in the car or by airplane were unbearable.

A Story About Legs

As the years passed the pain increased, in spite of every kind of treatment imaginable. Doctors gave up. I gave up and learned to live with the pain and growing weakness in my legs. In 2015 it became necessary for me to use a cane to walk and a wheelchair seemed inevitable.

That was the lowest point, in this story about legs. That’s when I cried out, at a heart and soul level, for help. My cries were heard, and an answer given.

I found Anthony William by way of Facebook. I read his first book, Medical Medium, and my life changed, because my health changed. I discovered that the shingles virus had attacked my sciatic nerves, and that I could heal by avoiding foods that feed the virus, and consuming foods that support and heal the body. (Read more about healing foods.)

Switching to a plant based diet began a healing journey that continues today. In the last two years I’ve completely eliminated the shingles virus, healed inflamed nerves in my legs, strengthened weakened muscles, loosened stiff joints, eased nerve sensitivity and said bye bye to chronic pain, the cane and restless legs syndrome. Amazingly, something even shifted in my hip joints because I don’t toe in as much as I used to.

I can easily cross my legs, put on my shoes, stretch out my legs, climb stairs, squat and walk…all activities that had become impossible for me. I’m still careful going down stairs as that has been the most difficult thing for me to do, however I can manage, and as my legs continue to improve stairs are less and less problematic.

A Story About Legs

The thought I’ve had repeatedly the last two months is these don’t feel like my legs anymore. I love how great my legs feel and how well they work. Taking them for granted will never happen again. I say “thank you” to my legs, to the Divine and to Anthony every day.

My healing journey inspires me to help others who are struggling with health problems or chronic pain and disorders or who have given up, thinking they will never feel good again. There is hope. And my intention is to share that hope. The work I am doing now is leading me down the path of making a difference for others.

As I drove home tonight, I opened my library of songs on my iPhone and hit “shuffle”. I call this game Spirit Songs and I asked the Divine to select the songs I most needed to hear. The tunes that popped up were all perfect. I knew I had time for one more song before I arrived home. I asked the Divine to select the last song. Make it a great one, I whispered.

The next song up was Dancing Queen from the Mama Mia soundtrack. Of course, the Queen reference made me laugh. But as I listened intently to the words, tears filled my eyes.

You can dance, You can jive, Having the time of your life

Ooh, see that girl, Watch that scene, Digging the dancing queen.

A story about legs…it has a happy ending, or it will have, because this story is still being told, my healing is ongoing.

Now though, I can dance, I can jive, I AM having the time of my life. Watch this girl as the scenes unfold. I am the dancing queen.

A Story About Legs

Order Medical Medium below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link!