January 10, 2013

Vegan, Carnivore & a Little Bit More.

Source: yuna-chicky-yummy.deviantart.com via Renee on Pinterest

How to spear tofu when looking for the beef!

The last thing I saw before exiting the plane was a sign that said, “Humpty Dumpty was pushed.”

Without the force of my instructor harnessed to my back, I never would have summoned the courage to jump. While falling through the crisp clear blue sky I experienced a momentary freedom as I witnessed the hand of God reflecting in the shimmering Finger Lakes below. The birds smiled as I laughed. The first time I committed a detox cleanse I experienced similar trepidation. After all I’m a chef: food is my soul’s calling.

Last week during an interview with my cleansing coach, I complained that eliminating favorite foods from my diet seemed like punishment. I felt like a two-year old sequestered for a time out—no meat, no dairy, no sugar, no gluten, no caffeine, and no alcohol, which for me, after being sober for 25 seemed doable. I was willing to undertake this diet because last year’s cleanse had cleared my heart and mind, enabling me to make better choices for the remainder of the year.

Group support helped, especially the first day following my last supper of prime rib and blueberry pie.

My body’s tracking system innately understood detox, and the first thing to disappear was my happy-go-lucky disposition. I enjoyed a mid afternoon nap on day one, and later was treated to a sumptuous gourmet vegan meal prepared by a local chef, which definitely eased the pain.

By day two I was feeling great. I had a checklist of daily rituals that were part of the process, which included movement, yoga and nature. On most nights I took a walk around my neighborhood. With crisp air and sugarless clarity I realized that my home wasn’t in an ideal location for taking walks, as it is situated in an ever-evolving business zone surrounded by many multiple family rental units. I realized that I dread yoga and love boot camp. As I lay there, with two bum feet, one broken toe, and a strained foot from a recent horse fall, I realized this was a time for stillness.

Having someone else cook for me took the emphasis off my cravings. Last year, I spent an entire week preparing lavish vegan meals for a group of friends. This year, as I worked diligently on my new book, a good friend took care of the daily food pick-up.  All I had to do was keep up with the added chore of juicing, plus check items off my accountability sheet.

Aside from realizing that for me, yoga is off the mat, I’ve learned that dry brushing is great for scratching those hard to reach places on my back, and that detoxing from sugar is serious business.

On one particular day it felt like someone had tied a waistband full of ice around my lower back. Contemplation works best when done under the covers. Writing in my journal is a wonderful ritual I developed at an early age, so this item is easy to check off my list. I’m a hunter-gatherer and in cold weather I need hot food. I now appreciate that lingering in a hot tub is a great way to merge with the stars.

On the final day of the cleanse I was tempted to indulge in coffee and ice cream, but I resisted and made it through the day. I got a spirit wake up call just after midnight. Ever since my three-day vision quest in the wild, I’ve had a special relationship with the silence of the night. It’s a sacred place with subtle movement and a time to reset my inner compass. Between the darkness of the night and the light of morning I experience aha moments. Sometimes I feel agitated when jarred from my sleep, and use every meditation technique I know to navigate back to my dreams.

After seven days and nights of healthy eating and clean living, I achieved a state of inner peace and clarity. In the vastness of the moment I promised myself to continue applying certain parts of the cleansing regimen. After two meager attempts at being a vegan, with spear in hand, I am off to get a hot meal suitable for a carnivore.

Enjoy my recipe for a Healthy Green Juice from my Hands-on-Cooking series from The Shaman Chef.

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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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