A few years ago, just a day after the traditional fast had ended; I decided to make a few more epic changes in my life mainly to improve my chances for new opportunities going forward.
I also decided to do something about my health. Exercise was never going to be a problem, or so I thought. While I was never going to kill myself down at the local gym, let alone go there at all, I believed that regular, daily walks would do the trick. And on weekends, I would treat myself to a much longer walk along the lake or in the park. Because I was so preoccupied with life at the time, I never took much time out to indulge in this pleasurable activity.
Although I still take short walks occasionally. But for a young(ish) bird like me, this was never going to be enough. A more important paradigm shift where health is concerned was required. I needed to address my eating habits. After that great feast day, I decided that I would be more proactive and responsible with what I ate and how I ate it. Sadly, those decisions were deferred until now. Not that it is being offered as an excuse, but my mother uncharacteristically took ill that day.
I saw her briefly before I joined the rest of the family, and, boy, did she look awful. And to think that she is as health-conscious as they come. In this case, you could say that my mother was not your traditional mother. She defied our culinary traditions in more ways than one, always innovating and improvising as she went along. Since all three girls (and one brother) had already grown up and left the house, mother only had two mouths to feed. There was a blessing in disguise waiting for her because my father was not inclined towards very spicy dishes.
But he had a hearty appetite nonetheless. In an earlier blog post, I spoke with a little more excitement than usual about my parent’s healthy, balanced eating habits. If you are up to date with my posts you may recall that I spoke about how my mother used to balance our daily meals with more than our fair share of vegetables and just the right portions of protein-enriched meat. The great decision I took on our feast day was to take no more meat. I was going vegan.
The reason for wanting to do this had a little more to do with just good health. It was beginning to touch me that perhaps humanity was consuming far too much from the bounty of animal species. Mainly in Europe and America, in spite of their continuous complaints to the contrary, the few farmers that thrive mass-produce their poultry and cattle stocks for even larger world-wide markets. A more critical problem is in the oceans. Once upon a time, small-scale fishermen could take to the sea in their small boats and reap modest harvests, sell their stock after embarking and put food on the table for their hungry families. Now, in many countries around the world, they are no longer allowed to do this.
They have been told the lie that their fishing expeditions are endangering the ocean’s stocks. And when they have been through the arduous and cumbersome process of obtaining a license, they are restricted to small quantities which are ridiculously of no help to them or their impoverished communities. While they are incarcerated on land, the ocean’s stocks continue to be depleted at alarming rates. What is the cause of this? Unhindered and kowtowing to no-one, not even governments, large multinational companies send their gargantuan ships far out to sea so that they can plunge their mechanized contraptions to deep depths of the ocean and scoop out tons of fish.
As a family, we have always enjoyed our fish. No longer. But on those rare occasions that we do get to indulge in this luxury, I cannot help thinking just how much my portion has been laced with mercury poisoning. All these things took its toll on me emotionally. It was not doing my health any good.
Where health was concerned, I believed that my foray into vegetarianism would be temporary. Unless my body was able to adapt naturally and actually enjoy being fed quantities of fruit and vegetables that it previously was deprived of. Also, I regarded it as a form of detoxifying my body and ridding it of all the waste that I was harming it with. I had weight issues and I wanted to feel light and good about myself. I believed all this would help, whether in the short-term or for the rest of my days.
Today, I have yet to embark on my grand plan. Life has overwhelmed me to the point that I have not given health and good eating habits and plans the attention it deserves. But this modest soul never gives up. I have a small pile of good recipe books that I’d like to research thoroughly for new cooking ideas, minus the meat and all the hot spices and salt. Online research is easy enough for me these days; it is part of my job anyway. Sitting with hard cover food manuals with dozens of nicely taken photographs will be inspirational.
I’ve also given a lot of thought to the excessive amounts of refined white sugar in most of our foodstuffs. Because most of us are on tight budgets anyway, it seems to be very difficult to escape these toxic ingredients. Refined, processed, pre-packaged food remains a lot cheaper than the preferred natural alternatives of good old fashioned fruit and vegetables and organically-farmed meat produce. Back in the day, fish used to be the poor man’s food. No more, price-wise it has surged way ahead of previously more expensive meat products such as lamb cutlets and beef stew parcels.
Ready with my notes, my food journey has only just begun.