Healthy Lifestyle Blog
May 9, 2016
January 31, 2016
This letter is in response to an article I recently read in which the author addresses her belief that veganism perpetuates issues of classism and racism. The article can be found here.
Dear Ms. Ogwude,
I appreciate the thought that went into your article, touching on so many aspects of the obstacles that vegans face: economic, cultural, convenience, and although not addressed directly, lack of education.
I respect your hypothesis with regard to classism and I do hope you will give my comments some serious consideration. Although you opened your article with what seems to be an understanding of some of the very valid reasons one would adopt a vegan lifestyle (“More and more people are deciding to reject the slaughter, consumption and exploitation of animals. People are realizing that there are safer and more environmentally friendly options out there to sustain themselves.”), you depart from these ethical and environmental reasons which are very compelling, to explain why it is just too hard to follow for those who are not middle class Caucasians.
I agree that there is classism at play in the availability of healthy food to people of some socio-economic groups, especially when you consider the food deserts that exist in so many underprivileged communities, where convenience stores are stocked with processed foods and fresh produce is rarely available. It would be far more productive to join forces with those working for food justice, than to succumb to the existing reality and rely on that quick convenient MacDonald’s hamburger or that bulk package of chicken parts, that we know is detrimental to our health and to the environment (not to mention to the sentient beings that were tortured and slaughtered). So rather than resenting “notion that it is a superior lifestyle,” it would be prudent to examine whether or not it is indeed a more beneficial lifestyle for all, regardless of class.
That said, I wish to address the economic issue first. The only reason that a MacDonald’s hamburger or bulk package of chicken is cheaper than the veggie burger alternative is the price is unnaturally low because our tax dollars contribute to the torture and exploitation of millions of sentient beings every day. Our tax dollars subsidize the production of millions of acres of monoculture grain to feed these animals, grain that is not meant for humans. Our tax dollars support the the industrial animal ag industry with water rights to consume billions of gallons of water to raise these crops, to sustain the animals, and to wash away their waste into “lagoons” that poison the water tables. Our tax dollars support the use of public lands for grazing. If these dollars were directed to small scale organic farmers and food equity, we would solve the economic issue while improving the environment along with the added benefit of a healthier population, thus reversing the downward spiral of health and life expectancy in the US. There are many ways to eat healthy vegan food without spending a fortune. Changing public policy with regard to subsidies is one of them. Until we get the money out of politics, we can educate ourselves, while working at the local level to bring in healthy food into our communities at low costs. We can be instruments of change by encouraging food cooperatives, establishing buyers clubs and buying in bulk, organizing community gardens, eliminating lawns to grow edibles, creating rooftop gardens, applying pressure on our government, teaching others how to prepare affordable healthy food, and certainly by being an example.
You mention culture. The traditional diets of most cultures did not include meat as the main course, but rather as a condiment, if it was available at all. We have departed greatly from the traditional diets that sustained humanity for so long, and have now have placed animal flesh as the main event on our plates, and it is infused with a cocktail of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, coupled with a huge dose of fear and suffering. That was certainly not typical of what our ancestors consumed.
If you examine the food industry since WWII, you will see how convenience foods became the mainstay of the western diet. Our grocery store shelves are lined with edible food-like substances that come in packages (adding to our waste stream) and are laden with preservatives so that they may sit on the shelf for years. This is not real food. This is not what our traditional cultures ate. This convenience has a cost – on our health and on our environment. But those costs are shrouded by the convenience and cheap price.
So how would one be able to eat if animal products were left off the plate? I admit that it is a little more challenging at first, especially in our fast food culture, huge food lobbies, and separation from nature. But with some education and re-connecting with the source of our food, it becomes far more simple, and there are so many benefits. Research and countless case studies have proven that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse the most common chronic diseases that are among the top ten causes of death in the US (cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, renal failure, to name a few). Isn’t it time to educate the public, and especially the medical professionals, in the prevention of disease through proper nutrition rather than treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals, costing us billions of dollars every year? This shift from the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is the hallmark of our current culture (certainly not embedded in our history) will only occur when people recognize that we have strayed from our core values.
Each and every one of us who cares about life on this planet should become the change agents to bring about a more beautiful world. It takes courage to live our true core values (I don’t think anyone wants to routinely contribute to suffering and exploitation). Food is our livelihood. It is at the root of our culture, class, economics. It takes commitment to set an example of living a life in alignment with our core values. It takes stamina to educate others that we don’t need to submit to what the masses are doing, even if it may be more convenient and more acceptable to others. I trust that you have the courage, commitment and stamina to become a change agent.
November 29, 2014
She would have been 30 years old today.
On Thanksgiving evening grief flooded my being as the day of her arrival/departure emerged into my consciousness. I pulled out the tattered folder I have treasured all these years. A folder full of condolences, handmade cards from children, a few photos, and multiple drafts of a piece I wrote three decades ago while attending a writing class at Teachers College in NYC. A catharsis for me.
It’s time to share today’s version of that narrative.
The doors open to a stark block-letter reality.
A lump swells in my throat.
My limbs weaken.
My blood vessels throb.
My vision pulsates with the rhythm of my heart.
Wait here, while I get her.
Upstairs mothers wait to feed their babies.
This mother waits to grieve hers.
Images of the past 24 hours occupy my mind’s eye
from awakening to severe cramps
to the harsh brightness of a crisp morning
piercing my being
punctuating my fear
to the solitary room
sounds of monitors beeping
muffled voices just outside the door
to a crowd of shadowy figures shouting commands
to the faint cry, hands reaching in to whisk away its source
to awakening in a lonely room.
A crescendo of footsteps.
She enters with a small bundle.
There was nothing physically wrong with your baby. She’s perfectly formed. Would you like to hold her?
My mind hesitates but my arms are ready.
I am left alone to hold her and rock her.
To fill the cold institutional space
with anguish and primal sobs…
Empty of the promise of new life.
Empty of dreams.
Empty of tears.
My attention shifts.
I want to know this being that arrived before its time.
To examine her thoroughly
from head to toe
abundant dark hair
hands the size of my thumbnail
and fingernails, too!
noticeable calf muscles
and ink on the sole
(on the soul?)
Even down to the soiled diaper.
for the chill
that permeates the wrapping
(a signal as blatant
as the block-letter reality)
reminding me that this is a
complete with ID tag
dangling from one toe.
She must have read my mind.
June 18, 2014
Since March, I have been traveling quite a bit, and discovered an amazing location to host a gathering for the adventurous spirit. The place is Yelapa, located on a beautiful cove in western Mexico, about 20 miles south of Puerto Vallarta.
After being there for a week-long yoga retreat, I decided that I MUST return and share the experience with others. So with the intention of finding the perfect place to host an event I returned to Yelapa for an extended stay.
So far I have two amazing women to help me create a wonderful experience for a small group. One is a raw vegan chef extraordinaire, and the other is a photographer who has a remarkable ability to paint a story in a single photograph. And what better than to have a gathering with delicious food and photography in a location that is beautiful, remote (no cars in Yelapa) and magical.
I am planning for our group to gather in Puerto Vallarta on March 7, 2015, then proceeding to Yelapa for one week (March 8-15, 2015). More details will follow. Basically daily activities will include lessons in preparing raw vegan food, classes in creating story through photography, and/or additional activities like yoga, chanting, meditation and day trips to beautiful sites. Double occupancy accommodations and most meals will be included in the cost of this eight-day experience.
Does this sound like something you would love? If so, please email me with your questions and interests.
Marilyn at aTasteofLight dot com
May 17, 2014
I love kale. I grew up loving kale. My mother used to make kale soup (not my favorite) and then she’d take the cooked kale and prepare it with garlic and eggs, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. I no longer eat eggs, but kale is still a staple.
It is easy to grow, and I have had kale winter over in southern Vermont for 3 years. Sadly last year the kale plants became infested with aphids and I had to pull them out. I now have some new plants growing and look forward to harvesting some for smoothies, salads and kale chips.
Kale likes cool weather, but I have never had a problem growing it in the northeast throughout the summer. I have even seen it growing as an ornamental (and I’m not referring to the plant that is in a tight head for that purpose), planted among flowers. The curly green leaves add much beauty to the beds, and then you can eat it!
I typically add some kale to my smoothies and soups. Here’s a recipe for a creamy kale salad. Because kale may be difficult to digest raw, it is best to massage it with salt and an acid (in this recipe I use lemon juice) until it “cooks.” The salt and acid break down the cellulose walls and make it more digestible.
1 large bunch of kale
2 ripe avocados
Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil (optional – drizzle in if too dry)
Optional: cayenne, scallions or onions
- Strip kale off the stems, then cut or tear into small pieces (you may save the stems for juicing). Or, use a food processor for this, pulsing gently in small batches. Do not liquefy the kale.
- Sprinkle with some salt and hand process, massaging the kale until it takes on a cooked appearance. It will greatly reduce in volume. The salt actually cooks the kale by breaking down the cell walls.
- Squeeze one or two lemons onto the kale and massage again. The acid in the lemon juice will continue “cooking” the kale.
- Cut the avocados in half and score in a criss-cross fashion. Scoop out with a spoon and mix it thoroughly with your hands, “smooshing” (a special culinary term) it well to create a creamy texture. (Kids love to do this!) For a chunkier salad, reserve half an avocado and toss in without smooshing.
- Toss in the diced tomatoes, and the (optional) chopped scallions and cayenne.
Dark, leafy greens are among nature’s most beneficial foods. Kale is a great food if you’re looking to protect your health and enjoy a delicious food at the same time. The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables such as kale kelp detoxify cells, clearing free radicals and potential carcinogens, which may be why cruciferous vegetables appear to be able to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers and also provide significant cardiovascular benefits as well. Studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables are associated with lower incidence of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, bladder, breast and ovarian cancer. Kale is also known for its carotenoids, which prevent damage to the eyes from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, offering a protective effect against cataracts. Kale is an excellent source of traditional nutrients, as well, including vitamins A, C, B, and manganese and a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, copper, and potassium. The benefits go on… Kale is helpful for immune support, reducing inflammatory conditions such as asthma and arthritis, preventing colds and recurrent ear infections. Kale is also a very good source of calcium, important for bone health, and vitamin E, shown to slow the loss of mental function. The combination of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients makes kale a health superstar!
Nutrition information source: World’s Healthiest Foods
September 27, 2013
When I tell people that my mother had two sisters who were centenarians, and that she was with us until one week shy of her 98th birthday, most respond that I must have great genes. For a long time I believed that to be the case, but have learned that a nourishing lifestyle is far more important than genes.
Bruce Lipton, in “Biology of Belief,” demonstrates that cellular environment can control cell function, and states that genes only account for about 5% of disease. After reading John Robbins’ book, “Healthy at 100,” and listening to Dan Buettner’s TED talk, “How to Live to be 100+,” the impact of lifestyle on longevity has become even more clear to me.
Both Robbins and Buettner studied societies where longevity is prevalent, and came to similar conclusions. Yes, a nourishing diet is important (typically plant-based), as is exercise (usually integrated into daily life). But to me the most compelling factor that contributes to longevity is social and spiritual nourishment. In each of the communities that are noted for longevity, the the elders are respected, valued and celebrated; they are connected to family and friends; and they are also connected to purpose, the reason they wake up in the morning. Do you know what your purpose is?
For the past four years I have attended RISE, the BraveHeart Women annual gathering of women from all around the world. These five days in California nourish me. They connect me with a community of amazing women and provide the spiritual and social nourishment that helps me transform. I wouldn’t miss it.
Isn’t it time to live a life that nourishes YOU?
RISE is sold out but I purchased a block of tickets and still have a few left at a VERY discounted price. Call Marilyn for details – 802-254-9121.
September 2, 2013
A Prayer for the Water
This is a modification of the prayer Dr. Emoto wrote after the BP oil spill that continues to contaminate the waters in the Gulf of Mexico. To make the prayer more global, in the first sentence I replaced the phrase from “the Gulf of Mexico and its surroundings” with “the Earth’s waters and their surroundings”.
I send the energy of love and gratitude to the waters and all living creatures in the Earth’s waters and their surroundings.
To the whales, dolphins, pelicans, fish, shellfish, plankton, coral, algae…
to ALL living creatures…
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Whenever you are near a body of water, please consider taking a few minutes to send gratitude and loving healing energy to our planet’s life blood.
August 29, 2013
Water… Essential for Life
Our bodies are comprised of about 60% water. It is no wonder that we cannot live for more than a few days without it. Yet humans continue to waste and contaminate the very water that we rely on for life.
There are many threats to our water supply, whether accidental, a result of industry or deliberate introduction of contaminants supposedly for the public good. Industrial threats include fracking (wastes millions of gallons per well and contaminates ground water with chemicals), oil spills, nuclear accidents (Fukishima is still leaking billions of gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific), runoff from farms (includes animal waste, pesticides and fertilizers), and dumping toxic waste into waterways.
Our government deliberately adds chemicals to public water supplies at so-called safe levels. One such chemical, fluoride, accumulates in the body, so it is likely that a person who drinks a lot of fluoridated water have much higher levels of this toxic industrial waste in his/her body. Fluoridated water is used in the preparation of many beverages and foods, so even if the municipal water is not fluoridated, it is difficult to avoid this chemical.
So what can we do to maintain health in light of such contamination of our water?
- Drink filtered water. Many contaminants are removed from water with standard filtration. Fluoride is more difficult. One of the few ways to filter it out is with Reverse Osmosis, but that also removes the dissolved minerals that are healthful. Adding a pinch of Himalayan salt replaces some of those minerals.
- Eat organic fruits and vegetables. Much of the water we consume comes from our food. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide water in a delicious package.
- Avoid processed foods. Most processed foods contain contaminants from the water used in processing.
- Have pleasant, loving thoughts. This might sound silly, but Dr. Masaru Emoto demonstrated in his experiments that water samples, when frozen and examined under a microscope while still frozen, appear very different when different music or words are directed at it, or when it comes from different sources. Here are two photos with different phrases:
Considering that our bodies are mostly water, wouldn’t you rather nourish yourself with kind loving thoughts and words?
August 6, 2013
I am sitting in my VT living room with the sound of my sister’s laughter permeating my soundspace and I feel such joy from her joy. While I was on LI last week, my sister’s boyfriend (who she met at my moving sale two months ago) proposed to her. Such JOY!!!
…And last night I felt such joy facilitating a Harmony Circle. I was truly in my essence. My first Circle since April (before the move). Eighteen beautiful souls showed up fully.
Upon reading a BraveHeart Sister’s suggestion that we connect monthly to meditate on healing Gaia’s waters, I was called to include a meditation at my Harmony Circle. So after we did the circle, I played “So Much Magnificence,” by Mitten and Deva Premal, and offered a slightly modified version of Dr Emoto’s prayer for healing the waters after the BP spill. Throughout the meditation/music, you could hear sniffles (water flowing). And later, Yolanda shared that she was moved to tears because, “The angels were here – they came because they heard our prayers.”
Tears of Joy.
December 2, 2012
As we enter the 2012 gift-giving season, it is a good time to go inside and recognize the gifts that reside deep in your heart and soul. Rather than succumb to the incessant commercialism, take a few moments to go deep inside and recognize the gifts you have to offer.
One practice that I find very helpful is to start by making a gratitude list. In making your list, consider not only those things that are external, but what are the qualities that reside within YOU that you are grateful for? Is it your compassion, patience, intelligence, beauty, skill, listening ability, consciousness…? What gifts do you have that you can share with others?
All too often we run out to the store to purchase a gift for a special person, when the true gifts we have to offer are within ourselves. Consider alternatives to giving material things that eventually will end up in the waste stream. Your inner gifts are priceless, and can last a lifetime.