“She’s like bamboo: She may sway in the wind but she never breaks.”
When I go to informal restaurants and find that I need to leave my name with the server, often I jokingly leave the name Superwoman. It is unusual and humorous, and it gives me some privacy since no one will be yelling out my name. I regret to inform you, however, that I am not the incredible Superwoman. I know, it is disappointing.
When I reflect, it appears that I have been the incredible Superwoman at times. Many of those times involved going happily about my life and trying to avoid people who disapproved of my diet. Often this was very difficult. You likely can relate!
One thing I have discovered since changing to a plant-based diet many years ago is that plant-based people go through some strange social stages. At first, people will try to dissuade you, telling you that your thoughts of changing your diet are radical and outright dangerous. Your newly-found passion makes you obsessed with trying to inform and help others. Immediately, others will attempt to discredit you by arguing that the information you have collected is from unreliable sources or that there is insufficient evidence. If that does not work, you are simply out of your mind. Often they are defensive because they fear that your dietary decisions may one day affect theirs.
After about six months on a plant-based diet, even though skin problems have disappeared, fifty pounds have melted off effortlessly, hypertension has gone away, and other health problems have vanished, others are quick to argue that your devotion is only temporary. A year or so later, they still don’t want to hear what you have to say and don’t want to be changed. By now they believe that your healthy alternatives have become quite an inconvenience, especially at restaurants where menu modifications may inconvenience the chef.
A couple of years later, you just agree to disagree. You stop trying to help others and let them live their lives the way they wish. If you silently follow your diet long enough, you’ll soon find a great deal of pressure from others who would like to pull you back to meat-laden diets and health problems. They just cannot seem to leave you alone. Nevertheless, you persevere, never being happier or healthier. It takes a strong-willed person to plow forward in the face of this kind of pressure!
Before long, it’s been five years and ten years and you are still going strong. The pressure seems to fade and others start to look at you as an authority. They see that you are happy and healthy and some wish to follow you while others sit silently with a skeptical eye. You love food and you love health — and both were topics about which you felt lukewarm prior to changing your diet. By shifting to a plant-based diet, we cut out all of the unhealthy foods and broaden our horizons with global cuisines. We cannot help but develop a passion for food and the world around us. Like me, you may find yourself dedicating years of study on healthy nutrition and pursuing academic credibility for your efforts.
However, despite all of your efforts, the social pressure continues. If your health is not always perfect, you’ll find many people who will point to your crazy diet as the culprit. You have a cold? It must be your diet. You have a headache? Wonder if it’s your diet. Sinus infection? Sore throat? The flu? You are tired? Maybe you’re not getting enough of something. Hopefully you won’t come down with something no one can explain. You’re obviously not getting enough protein!
Average Knowledge: Little.
The truth is, the average person doesn’t have a clue about nutrition and the same is true for most doctors. Even most mainstream nutritionists and dieticians had to endure years of brainwashing in order to obtain their credentials from government-funded facilities that often engage in conflicts of interest. Many of these people pay a lot of money and often spend a lot of time learning very little.
Nearly everything one requires from diet is found in abundance in plant-based foods. Animal-based foods come with unwanted elements like cholesterol, saturated fat, carcinogens, high amounts of protein and iron, and much more. Consumption eventually results in serious consequences. Everything positive one can hope to obtain from animal foods was first found in plants. Have you realized that most of the animals in our food supply are vegetarians? You can avoid the unnecessary health problems associated with animal-food consumption, as well as the heinous cruelty these poor animals endure, once and for all. Your health depends on it. You may think that you are just one person, but one person consumes nearly 500 animals each year, and the resources needed to produce each animal are hefty and unsustainable.
At the end of the day, mortality is still 100 percent, but we can control the quality of our lives. We now know that we can reverse diseases like diabetes, and that we have control over gene expression, as genes merely make a suggestion. The main reason diseases tend to run in families is because lifestyle habits and recipes also run in families. The nutrition we provide for ourselves determines which genes manifest in physical problems and which genes are disregarded completely.
Plant-based diets give us a rainbow of endless healthy and colorful foods. The range of colors indicate the different phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other incredible elements specific to that plant. All play important roles in optimal health. The more variety we eat, the healthier we become.
No one is superhuman. Plant-based diets give us the best fighting chance, but we still are not completely impervious to infections or viruses. We all get knocked down from time to time because we are human and this is nature. It is no reason to attempt to discredit the healthiest diet on the planet. Many non-vegetarians will monitor everything you experience and attempt to challenge your healthy decisions at every turn — even when you have information that can improve and save their own lives. Stay strong. The truth is always met with resistance and repugnance before it is widely accepted!
Now that I consider our ability to stand against all of the resistance we encounter, especially when trying to help the ones we love, perhaps we are superhuman after all!
With strength & courage,
Danica De La Mora
Photo credit: Roy Reyna