Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waving the Green Bean!

There I was, enjoying a passover seder with lovely people at my table, and as we were chatting, I found myself waving a green bean to make my point. A real green bean. Oy! Hopefully no one caught this moment on camera - the rabbi using a green bean as though it were a pointer. Of course, it could be better than the photo shots of me, the rabbi, lifting a bottle of Manichevitz instead of a glass. Never good.

My meal was lovely. I brought it from home and plated it as my table mates went through the buffet line for a meal of chicken, brisket, sweet potatoes and the like. I had steamed green beans, raw carrots, and the raw walnut pate I made earlier in the day (recipe below).

There were questions about my "diet" -- did I have health issues that "made" me have to eat like this? Do I feel deprived? Do I look forward to eating "normal" again?

Here is were those of us who have chosen a vegan/raw/healthy or similar lifestyle have to be careful not to wave the proverbial green bean in an evangelical way. (Actually, I look at it as "having been chosen" because I can't imagine me, the junk food junkie, chosing this myself, and yet it fits as naturally as worn bedroom slippers.)

I try to keep my choices to myself and not proselytize, in the way a non-smoker might, or one who newly discovers a religion or restaurant: "you gotta try it!" And yet, there is the balance of sharing information with folks who are truly interested and looking for healthful suggestions to improve their lives versus the evangelical bean waving.

Somewhere between providing guidance and experience (hence this blog as one example) and standing up and waving my green bean in everyone's face with "eat this or die!" printed on my T-shirt, is the balance or middle ground.

The longer I am on this journey -- and as of today, it is just shy of three months (so I am still a virtual newbie) - the more I feel changes in my body, my tastebuds, my energy levels.

Even today as I heated up a veggie burger -- my favorite lunch item during those first three months, I swear, I could smell the "processing." I no longer had the taste for this burger that formerly I considered healthy. Compared to a hamburger, yes, a veggie burger is healthy. But a commercially packaged and frozen veggie burger is still processed, and hardly compares to a freshly made veggie burger.

As food writer Michael Pollan writes: If a third grader cannot read and pronounce the ingredient list, it is NOT food. My commercial veggie burger did not pass this test.

Hopefully, as I write this blog, and share friendship and dinners with many of you, I will not feel the urge to proselitize. If I ever do -- just tell me to stop waving the damn Green Bean!

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The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.