In the last two months of being in the United States, Food has really become a moment of deep thought and contemplation! Inspired by several of my friends, I decided to experiment with the Gluten-Free, Vegan lifestyle. I am sharing it in the SheStandsTall blog because women are the ones who master/manage food in every home. In their ability to manage food and make the right choices for their well-being as well as for their family lies the hope of health.
Diagram below gives some option. However note that some things like Soy/Corn are fully GMO so it is best to avoid them anyway.
Being a South Indian gluten issomething I caneasily avoid yet that also means avoiding Bread, Pizza, Cake, Cookies and a zillion other things that are the temptations of the western world!
Being Vegan was even more difficult because it means avoiding the Indian Chai, Madras Filter Coffee, butter or ghee. Not that I consume any of thse things in excess anyway yet, I wanted a moral ground to avoid these things – not just for environment but also for maintaining sacred grounds in my body.
Veganism happened in an unpredictable way! I have been thinking a lot about the concept of “domestication.” In almost every culture women have lost their ability to choose in the process of domestication. How has domestication for so many centuries affected the status and role of women in society? Where women making the choice for themselves! How has capitalism/consumerism propagated domestication of women? One night I had this powerful experience. I woke up around 3 or 4 am with the realization that the most domesticated animal on this planet is the Cow. Here I was talking so much about “domestication of women” and their ability to choose, and then there was the cow which I myself was a part of domestication. its domestication was serving me!! It hit me like a blow that there is no cow which is outside the domain of domestication. I don’t think the cow even knows how not to be “in domestication.” Everything of her gets used whether she wants it or not. She has no choice in the process. She is called the giving one and we use her without ever giving it another thought!! I somehow felt such deep pain in that moment – I couldn’t breathe and started crying. I cannot explain it. It was not an intellectual knowing and from then it was easier to entertain the thought of being vegan. I have not gone all the way but I am moving in that direction.
So it is almost 3-5 weeks that I have been following a Gluten-Free and Vegan diet. Sometimes strictly and sometimes digressing!
What have I noticed!! Taking gluten and dairy out of my system, I feel less bloating, heavy, full in my body. The flexibility in my body has improved leaps and bounds. I am amazed every morning during yoga. I have begun to love water! In fact water has become my favorite drink. If I have to sit and work at a cafe, I buy water. My sugar craving has gone. Anyway I was of the belief that I need to keep my system flexible so an occasion eating of gluten is ok.
With this thought, I took a chance and ate vegetarian burger at Red Robin. Of course, it was delicious but what my body endured afterwards in the process was not remotely delicious! I felt some of the same sensations of heaviness, bloating and this time the feeling stayed for 2 days. It was like I could sense my body telling me “Pleeeeaaasseee.. Merci!!”
So what do I do when I have to travel to Modesto to teach – I become one of those people who carries their food. I even looked at labels to get non-gmo/organic food. The magic bullet travelled with me.
It is definitely stepping out of our comfort zone!! However, in this process I have realized that there are so many millets, seeds and other grains which are anyway high in protein, folic acid, vitamins which can easily replace wheat/rice. Yes! They require more time in terms of preparation/creative thought.
In a world where we are completely dismissing time and have no time, we will have to dismiss health!! We put ourselves through packaged, processed, pesticide infected food, GMO grains (thats most wheat/rice), GMO vegetables and then we wonder – what happened to my energy, confusion, and zillion other things!!
I agree in US the food culture is so messed up! It is expensive to practice a healthy, conscious life style for a family!
I am more hopeful as I return back to India in July. I look into exploring in depth the rich reservoir of Millets/Native Grains/Seeds in India, and the village cuisine. It is definitely cheaper than wheat/rice. Maybe in the process I can inspire more women to return to native eating habits!!
Some Food for Thought so we can Eat Thoughtfully!