©2017 by Alex Stalberger

with Alex Stalberger

Minneapolis, MN, USA

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Why I eat mostly plants. And it's probably not why you think...

September 28, 2017

 

 

I get the question a lot, especially when getting to know someone new.

So, are you a vegetarian, a vegan?

 

I want to take this opportunity to be transparent with you all about my journey with food. I eat mostly plants, but not only plants, and not always plants. I eat mostly plants. Therefore, if I had to give myself a label, I would say that I am plant-based. 

 

But who likes labels. 

 

I would almost be easier to pick a label and stick to it. Just say I am a vegan solely for the reasons of animal rights, environment, or food politics. Those are all great reasons to live by, and while I absolutely agree with those reasons I still had to embark on my own journey with food to find and live by reasons that were uniquely mine.

 

So, what am I? 

 

 

 

My journey with food started a long time ago, around 2009 if I had to pin-point the year. I was a freshman in college, learning how one was supposed to be an "independent-minded individual" or whatever. I was trying to figure out what being an adult would really feel like. To choose an action and be responsible for the consequences, a real world consequence. A consequence that may not present itself immediately, or even in minutes, days, years? What did that mean, to be an owner of my actions?

 

Enter Michael Pollan

 

Maybe you are familiar with his works. Michael Pollan is renown author of books such as The Omnivore's Dilema and Food Rules. He quite eloquently describes the power each of us have within us to change our communities and the world through what is on our plate. He dives deep into the intricacies of our commercial agriculture system, political systems, education systems and finally our own biological systems. He assures us that our power to change these systems rests in the dollars we spend on what fills our plate. 
 

It is an incredible concept and one that changed me.

...our power to change these systems rests in the dollars we spend on what fills our plate. 

I felt accountable for my actions as I could see how they would impact my immediate community. I imagined how my actions may impact our grater communities, international even? What if my choices really, really, really mattered?

My plate began to fill, not with mindless meat-replacements, but with heartfully grown, joyfully chopped, real food. ​ 

 Well, I made the decision that life only makes sense if we treat it with power and respect. We all play an important role, and I decided that my choices really, really, really, really matter. My purpose from then on began to unfurl.

 

So what. What changed?

 

 

 

I began a journey of discovering what eating purposefully meant to me. There are so many others who share their accounts on what eating purposefully means to them - which is wonderful! However, I recognize that each person has a  specific purpose and each purpose is fed uniquely, by mouth and by soul! 

 

I began where I thought was the beginning; I started abstaining from meat. It seemed like the most clear-cut and fortunately, I went to a college who made vegetarianism easy. I took on the label VEGETARIAN. The only defense I had to take home with me came straight from one book, by one guy, I read one time. Ha! Not entirely convincing. I knew I needed more purpose behind my actions.

However, I recognize that each person has a  specific purpose and each purpose is fed uniquely, by mouth and by soul! 

 Interestingly enough, when I cut out meat nothing else about my diet really changed. I simply replaced meat with non-meat substitutes. It wasn't until I lived with a wonderful woman with such a vibrant relationship with food, that I began to realize the true power of choice. 

 

 

 

Mel is still one of the most inspiring people I know. But I will never forget coming home to her chopping up a bunch of fresh vegetables she had picked up at the farmer's market in town that day. She was so at peace, carefully slicing and chopping for whatever dish she was preparing to make. I remember her saying that the process puts her at ease, calms her, grounds her. Almost like a meditation.

Sharing a home-cooked meal was one of the most precious and thoughtful gifts you could ever give or receive.

 I would learn many thing from Mel, like how to grow your own herbs indoors, that curry was something I liked, that sharing a home-cooked meal was one of the most precious and thoughtful gifts you could ever give or receive. She encouraged me to go the the fresh markets, to talk with the farmers, to grow my own food. She demonstrated how powerful a relationship with food can be. I began to trust the produce to give me what I needed. I experimented. I chopped. And I still love the chopping. 

 

My plate began to fill, not with mindless meat-replacements, but with heartfully grown, joyfully chopped, real food. 

 

I still get asked, "So...what are you then?" 

 

 

 

Over the years, I have attempted to provide a complex yet accurate answer to alleviate their curiosities: 

  • I eat mostly plants. Plants of all kinds. Leafy and cruciferous, grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. They inspire me, they challenge me, and most of all they truly feed me.
     

  • I seldom eat meat. Only if its hunted with dignity and minimally processed. And even then, only if I feel my body needs it. 
     

  • I occasionally consume dairy. I strive to choose dairy of the highest quality available. If I don't, my stomach lets me know...
     

  • I occasionally eat eggs. I choose to know the small farms that provide the eggs I bring into my house.
     

  • I also go out to eat, but don't let the menu ruin my relationships. Going out with my loved ones is one of my favorite things to do. I love trying new foods, tasting new drinks, and the delightful conversation that comes along with it. I recognize that the relationships are more than the most healthful thing on the menu. 

But by the time you get through that all, the person who asked the question is no longer interested.

 

I've found a much more suitable answer is "I eat mostly plants".  

And when the question inevitably comes... "Why?"

 

I choose one of the following:

  • When I eat more plants, I can feel confident my body is getting a diversity of nutrients that keeps my mind and body clear. When meat is off my plate, I can fit in so many other things!
     

  • I prefer to eat quality foods, and frankly, I can't afford meat that has been raised sustainably, joyfully, locally, processed minimally. I just... can't. 
     

  • I experience less food waste. Think of all the things in your refrigerator with an expiration date like your milk, chicken, mayo, cheese or even bread. Cooking with whole foods means using dried or canned beans, grains, nut milks and seeds. Many of which have an incredible shelf-life. Although, I must admit I can always be better at using up my greens when they are peak!
     

  • I support my local communities by shopping at farmer's markets and CSA's when I can. Again, I can't often prioritize spending my money on meats and other animal products. 
     

  • Ultimately, I eat mostly plants because it is what is aligned with my purpose. Nothing more matters. 

 

I encourage you to be aware of your unique purpose and what is needed to nourish, feed and sustain those purpose by mouth and by soul. Your answers are uniquely yours and sustain you. Do you choose to eat mostly plants? What feeds your purpose? I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts at Alex@andraeats.com 

 

 

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