If someone told me, a year ago, that I’d be consuming grass-fed beef, I’d laugh in their face. Since the age of 23, late 1986, I became a vegetarian. And stayed a vegetarian for the next 28 years.
During the course of those 28 years, I’ve stayed very true to my path and in the mid-1990s I stopped buying products that tested on animals as well. No leather bags or leather jackets and absolutely no beauty products that tested on animals. I even went a step further, not consuming alcoholic beverages that were processed through a bone-char filter.
And during that time, I’ve respected all people’s choices. I was told by many that I was their favorite vegetarian because I didn’t judge others. In other words, I wasn’t a fanatical PETA card carrier.
One time I was dining out with an artist couple who were about 15 years older than me. When I ordered, it was obvious I was vegetarian. The husband commented that he and his wife were also vegetarians, but as they got older, they felt they needed a little extra, so once a month, they’d have some beef. I respected that and didn’t argue. I never felt that all people were meant to be vegetarian. Anti-animal testing was — and still is — more important to me than what people ate. And what works at one point, may not always work. Bodies change as we grow older and we make adjustments.
A few months before my 51st birthday, I wasn’t feeling up to par. And I was always the “go to” person when it came to health. I do not look my age. I’ve always had a ton of energy. And I get up at the crack of dawn even on weekends. I’ve practiced yoga since fourth grade. It didn’t make sense not to feel optimal. Then I remembered what the artist said.
I spoke with a holistic healthcare practitioner and he said I’d probably feel better if I ate a little bit of meat. After much research, I decided to give paleo a go. I eased into it. First I gave up gluten. Then a month later I gave up grains. And finally I said a little prayer to the animals added chicken and meat back into my diet. I felt AMAZING!
But what bugs the shit out of me, is how many of my “vegetarian” (not vegan) friends started judging me. The hypocrisy was mind blowing! All of a sudden, in their eyes, I was this satanic animal killer for eating grass-fed beef (even thought I was still anti-animal testing, only drinking vegan alcohol, and still refusing to eat pork).
And the “vegetarians” went on their merry way wearing their “MEATLESS” badges as they guzzled wine made from fish bladders, cheese made from the lining of a sheep’s stomach, and continued dying their hair with Loreal — one of the biggest offenders in animal testing. And let’s not forget desserts made with conventional milk, cheese, eggs and butter. Oh, but a gal’s gotta have dessert, right? Never mind what processed foods do to our environment.
After all that critique from vegetarian friends, I thought, okay, maybe now at least my meat eating friends will be on my side. But they didn’t get it either. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when my meat eating friends made the assumption that I was now pigging out on White Castles.
Then I decided to face my biggest fear — telling my VEGAN friends I was now PALEO.
But guess what? Surprise, surprise! They were the most compassionate and understanding of everyone! Wow, I thought to myself, somebody gets it! In fact, I’m now closer to my vegan friends as a paleo eater than I was when I was simply a vegetarian.
Vegans understand that eating grass-fed beef from a farm (once a month or so) is more environmentally responsible than eating soy and other processed foods.
As a paleo eater, I’m now eating more like a vegan as I consume more vegetables, fermented foods, and seaweeds. And I keep a variety of organic teas in my home too. Vegans love this!
And what’s really cool is that on paleo you don’t have to eat animal protein every single day! Sometimes I’ll even go two or three days in a row where I eat no animal products at all and feel fabulous. Only a vegan can understand that, since they don’t eat animal products at all.
When it comes to health, I truly believe that paleo eaters and vegans do the most research and take care of themselves the best. Like paleo people, many vegans are also grain free, sugar free and gluten free. They also understand the concept of telling each other what is in the food. They read labels and are compassionate to the dietary needs of others. And they do research — a lot of it. For vegetarians, they are just in denial when it comes to finding out what they really are eating. I was the exception. Whenever I mentioned to other vegetarian friends what animal by-product was in something they were eating, they turned a blind eye and ate it anyway. Vegans would never!
Both paleos and vegans don’t count calories, skip meals or over-exercise. They just have a sixth sense about being full and naturally stay at a perfect weight for their height (and age!)
Being environmentally conscious is a way of life for both paleos and vegans. We all love to practice yoga and qi-gong. We love to meditate and walk around barefoot. We enjoy buying second-hand clothing so the dye of a new outfit doesn’t seep into our skin. We are works in progress, trying consciously to make the world a better place to live. We stand up for what we believe in, no matter what, as we certainly don’t throw all caution to the wind in order to get a cheap alcohol buzz.
In fact, I have so much fun with my vegan friends because they don’t need to drink in order to unwind!