If you’ve been following me here on SQ for a while now (maybe you were even here back in the day when it was called Queen of Quinoa!), then you’ve probably read bits and pieces of my own personal wellness journey.
I’ve shared my entire journey with food in one of my Feel Good Friday posts, so if you want to dive deep you can hop on over there and read more, but today I wanted to specifically focus on diet labels.
Honestly, this whole idea of labels started because of YouTube. But let me back up first and explain.
As many of you know, for the last year or so I haven’t really been eating meat. I stopped eating dairy about 6 years ago and for me, meat was the next step. I slowly progressed into it: first with red meat, then poultry, then seafood, and I realized that I was feeling even better than I was before.
So I started creating recipes that were centered around plants, many of them not containing any animal products at all, and therefore naturally being vegan.
In full transparency, I labeled these recipes as “vegan” mainly for the search aspect of things. It makes them more visible for people searching for vegan recipes and helps drive more visitors to the site, which helps me grow my business. And the same rang true on YouTube. Labeling my videos as “vegan” helps more people find them and in turn, I can share my message with more people.
But by labeling my content that way, I was essentially putting that label on myself. Because there were so many vegan recipes on my site, and more specifically my YouTube channel, it was assumed that I was vegan.
For the most part, that would be fine, but the trouble is, when I use an animal product (like honey or eggs), even if I don’t label the recipe as vegan, people would get angry. I would get so many comments on my videos explaining that honey, bee pollen, beeswax, etc., it’s vegan. And they would be quite rude about it.
So those negative comments started to inform the content I was creating. I would forgo sharing a recipe that I loved because I used eggs. Or I would skip shooting a vlog-style video because I had honey that day.
And honestly, that’s crazy talk! I can’t be letting these haters control the content that I’m putting out there for all of you. Because so many of you aren’t vegan and you are really just looking for healthy, whole food-based recipes.
But really what it boils down to is labels.
For some reason, our society loves putting people in boxes. And not just with the way we eat. I don’t fully understand why, but I think part of it is that we like to feel like we belong to some sort of community. When we say that we’re vegan for example, it’s a point of connection with other people who eat the same way.
But labels can be tricky. Labels can be limiting. Labels can affect the way you live your life.
So here’s my decree, and what I encourage you to think about: don’t put yourself in a diet box!
If you want to eat mostly plants, but sprinkle in some animal products here and there, fine by me! If you want to eat only plants, fine by me! If you want to eat red meat and dairy, fine by me! If you want to eat all the gluten, but skip out on the animal products, FINE BY ME!
Seriously, I don’t believe there is any one way to eat. Every person is different; from our chemical makeups to our environment. It’s unreasonable to think that every single person should eat the exact same way.
My eating philosophy boils down to this:
Fill your plate with whole, real foods as close to their natural form as possible, from the highest quality sources available.
Simple as that. And it goes all the way from fruits and veggies to meat. Choose ingredients that you know come from sustainable, high-quality places, that are prepared in a way that keeps their nutrient profiles intact.
Fuel your body with the foods that make you feel good and really tune in. Listen to what your body is telling you, and make informed decisions. It might be that some days you want to eat a totally vegan diet, but then others you just feel like you need a piece of salmon for dinner. Just know, those choices are okay. You're okay.
It's your body. Your life. Your choice. Don't let other people, or specific labels, make you feel bad about yourself. Break free, my friends, and you'll feel liberated!
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