Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Herbivore

This article was published in the November 2012 issue of Natural Food Magazine

A Day in the Life of a Herbivore

The term Herbivore can elicit some entertaining reactions. I’ve seen a range from understanding smiles to frowns of complete and utter confusion. Now I know they sound like dinosaurs but there are a growing number of vegetarians referring to themselves as herbivores.

Most people associate vegetarians with healthy food but in this junk food culture there seem to be endless vegan versions of unhealthy food or 'ninja vegan' options (unintentionally but conveniently vegan, like Oreos) so herbivores use this term to distinguish themselves as plant based vegetarians.

I consider myself to be a herbivore, it seems to tie 'plant based vegan diet' into a nice neat package. You may be asking, 'What's the difference?'  To help answer that question here's an example of a day in my life. Now obviously there is some day-to-day variety and weekends are different, with more time and kitchen access but here's an example of day in the life of a herbivore.

We start, bright and early at 6:00am with a refreshing drink of water, either plain or with some fresh lemon juice and a dash of stevia. If it's warm I'll enjoy it cold but in the cooler weather it tastes wonderful as a hot lemon tea. The next thing that needs water are my plants, I'll head out to the garden to water my vegetables, herbs, wheatgrass and fruits- when you eat as many of them as I do every bit you can grow helps.

If I’m hungry I might make a yummy vegetable juice now, packed full of green goodness, carrots to sweeten it a little and lemon or ginger for a bit of zing. I try to make a little extra and keep in an air tight mason jar for an afternoon snack or the next morning.
The obligatory house tidy follows before some yoga in the living room with a view of the treetops. If time permits I'll try to get out for a morning walk before the work begins but on days when I have to leave quickly it's straight onto dry brushing (great for your skin and circulation) and by 7:00am I'm in the shower.

Showering with the divine smelling coconut soap makes it easy to forget that finding vegan soap can be a challenge (avoiding lanolin). My hair washing options are super simple; no-poo-ing with vinegar, bi carb and coconut oil or indulging in one of the organic shampoos available. The products in my skincare regime are something I pay close attention to; in the same way what we eat fuels our bodies the products we put on our skin are absorbed so I try to make sure everything’s as natural and chemical free as possible. The same holds true for make-up and of course I make sure everything I buy has not been tested on animals.

I get dressed, opting out of any leather, silk or wool. I try to buy ethically produced clothes (easier said than done) and visit op shops regularly. After the obligatory morning routine by 8:00am it’s time for some breakfast! (Yes, I know I’ve already had juice, that’s hydration with nutrients not breakfast) My favourite morning meals tend to be sweet- I opt for green and fruit smoothies that are a great option for when you’re in a rush, wholegrain cereals like quinoa, oats and buckwheat, yummy either warm or cold, or green salads with fruit & juice dressings. Here are a couple of delicious options. For the cooler months this warm, sweet, filling Peanut butter Banana Buckwheat tastes divine and in the warmer weather a crisp, fresh, juicy Grape, Cucumber and Spinach Salad is a wonderful way to start the day.

By 9:00 I’m out the door, walking (ok sometimes running) to catch the train from the second closest station to home- it’s good to get in some incidental exercise. I use my commute to work, catch up on my overflowing google reader, and check social media and emails before continuing the walk up to my destination.

At 10:00am I’ll be immersed in work and if I’m peckish at 11:00am I’ll have a lovely cup of herbal tea and might nibble on some veggie sticks and hummus or fruit and nuts. The work continues until about 1:00pm when lunch rolls around. Usually I’ll have a super salad (aka everything remotely salad like in the fridge with an awesome dressing) or leftovers but If I have enough time grabbing lunch out in one of the many healthy veg eateries is a nice treat. I work and study with some wonderfully intelligent and informed people so conversations over lunch always lead to interesting topics and questions. Food choices- ethical considerations, local/organic, processing, fluoride, supplements, farming, woofing (willing workers on organic farms), recipes and nutrition, exercise all seem to pop up allowing for an exchange of opinions and information. I know that some people are uncomfortable sharing differing opinions; luckily I’m not! In a respectful, calm discussion I think listening to a different point of view can be great fun, thought provoking and interesting. Problems only seem to arise when ego or closed minds come to the table! As long as you respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion you can agree to disagree and walk away with a greater understanding of the other side of the coin.

After more work if I’m hungry at about 5:00pm I’ll nibble on some fruit, veggies, nuts or homemade goodies like muffins, truffles or muesli bars as I make my way home and get started on dinner! 6:00pm reveals a delicious home cooked meal like Soba Noodle & Watercress Salad with Five Spice Tofu or Vegan Mousaka with a side salad or veg. I try to make sure there’s a good balance of veg, protein, unrefined carbohydrates and whole fats like nuts, seeds, soy, and avocado. If one food group is missing the meal just don’t seem to be as satisfying or enjoyable. Speaking of which- a healthy dessert is a vital addition to my day.

7:00pm is almost my favourite time of day. I think the key to maintaining a healthy diet is not feeling deprived- so to that end I try to have a little treat every day and thoroughly enjoy each mouthful, not feeling guilty in the slightest. Chocolate is really good for you, you know! Just avoid the sugar and fat and go straight for the intensely chocolaty raw cacao. Every bite of my delicious, deceptively healthy desserts like Cacao-Coconut Nut Balls  and Creamy Cacao Pudding bring a smile to my face and I’m sure to yours too. The idea that I can truly enjoy eating this way is too much for some to understand but when you can delight in foods that nourish you and taste divine what’s there to be confused about?

By 8:00pm it’s time to clean and pack a lunch of leftovers for the next day- a little bit of prep goes a long way. I usually cook double or triple portions to allow for this and freezing the remainder for those days when you really don’t feel like cooking. If I’m left to my own devices first thing in the morning I’ve been known to end up with whole cucumber and carrots for lunch, healthy but not exactly exciting. This way I have a backup instead of reaching for convenient but unhealthy foods.

9:00pm means it’s finally time to relax, blog, read, browse recipe books for inspiration for the next day’s meals and by the time 10:00pm rolls around I'm more than ready for some meditation and sleep! I meditate sitting on the bed with my legs crossed and attempt to achieve some sort of mental calm, visualizing the momentum of crashing waves before sleep (as you can imagine some days are more successful than others!) Finally, my day concludes snuggling down into a cosy bed and floating off into dreams.
I hope this has made a plant based lifestyle more welcoming, it’s one of the best changes I’ve ever made and as you can see the herbivore lifestyle isn’t as scary as it might seem at first! 

I hope you enjoyed that little flashback!

Love and Smiles,

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