This weekend I signed up with the Goodlife Fitness centre in my hometown. I have a leetle extra pudge on me right now due to work-related stress and some high-fat content food addictions. I figured instead of quitting my job or cutting out the foods that make my heart sing, I’d just take some endorphin-creating aerobics classes and maybe pump some iron.
During the the initial interview process – where they ask what your fitness goals are, etc. – the guy asked what my diet is like. “Oh, I eat really well, actually,” I told him. “I’m on the Paleo diet.” Of course, like so many men who claim to be health enthusiasts, he questioned this choice (and sorry to be sexist, but it always seems to be men who hold something against the Paleo lifestyle). This guy went on to inform me that if I was experiencing fatigue throughout the day, it could be attributed to lack of carbs in my diet.
This always makes me want to laugh when I hear it.
If anything, my energy levels have sky-rocketed since going Paleo. Not only is it easier for me to get out of bed in the mornings, I practically bounce out from under the covers and right into my pre-selected oufit for the day. My energy levels are even more stable from morning to evening. No more swinging from a caffeine-induced buzz to total and utter exhaustion and then back up again via a sugar high. Yes, life is sweet, now that I’ve expelled the sweets, dairy, grains and other processed foods from my diet.
And maybe that comes as a surprise to you.
“Shouldn’t someone who works so closely with animals and who has conversations with them and heals them and OBVIOUSLY adores them as much as you do, Avril…. um… not eat them? Like, shouldn’t you be vegetarian or something?”
Well, no. That’s not really the way it works.
Yes, I do love animals and yes, I speak with them the same way that I speak with humans and, really, I believe that animals are every bit as important as humans are (as much as we like to believe that we’re the most significant beings on this planet – or even in this universe).
HOWEVER. My body needs what it needs.
Due to some skin issues, I’ve been on numerous diets throughout the past several years. One of these was a vegan diet (thanks mostly to my decision to watch the videos of animal torture and abuse on Meat.org one fine afternoon). Unfortunately, in the three years that I was vegan, my skin issues never cleared up. They did improve, but not even close to the point where I felt confident going out into public without makeup on – or even at all, some days.
Thankfully, I finally got an intuitive nudge a couple years ago to try going Paleo. And after deciding to become a practitioner for animals, as well as discovering everything I now know about the meat and dairy industries, this was NOT an easy choice. But I made it knowing that my body would never ask me to do something immoral or evil.
Through other holistic practitioners, I learned that there are farms in my area that are small and family-owned businesses, where you can go and visit the animals they raise and see what sorts of conditions they live in. And trust me, it’s nothing like factory farming. These are animals that are raised in grassy paddocks, with plenty of room and easily accessible shelters. Calfs that are playing with each other, and that eagerly come over to any human they see standing by the gate. Chickens and roosters that have the run of the entire property. (Watch out for poop! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)
Does all this sound barbaric? Farmers who lovingly raise healthy, happy livestock only to slaughter them for food? And their customers, who love animals but would rather retain meat in their diet then try vegetarianism?
Well, I have news for those of you who may be leaning over that side of the feeling fence. There’s nothing barbaric about wanting each and every creature on this planet to have a blissful existence while they’re here – regardless as to how they leave this planet or when. If you knew that your life would only last x number of years, would you want people who were responsible for caring for you to make those years happy and fulfilling? Or would you be okay with being whipped, beaten, neglected, etc? My guess is that you would choose happiness and as little pain as possible.
And there’s nothing barbaric about consuming meat. Yes, animals are our friends. Yes, it’s our responsibility to care for them. But being a good caretaker of Earth and its creatures simply means that we use our natural resources responsibly and with kindness and future generations in mind. You can be a friend to animals and still participate in the food chain. Trying to switch the links around is not going to do you or your body any favours.
After going strict Paleo for a month, my skin was FUCKING. GLOWING. It was clear, it was smooth and my Rosacea was even easing up. My skin hadn’t looked that good since I was in high school and my doctor initially put me on the birth control pill. On top of that, my energy levels dramatically increased, and (sorry if you’re a dude and you’re reading this), my monthly menstrual cramps completely disappeared! I’d finally found the 100% natural remedy for a number of health concerns. And it all had to do with a tweaking of my diet.
All of this was a sign that this diet was something my body had been needing. It wasn’t just a matter of my taste buds having certain insatiable cravings. It was an actual need that my body was trying to express through various symptoms. Symptoms that I had been ignoring due to guilt and feeling as though I had to follow the rules and boundaries that other animal-lovers had set for me.
NEVER let anyone tell you what is best for your body. I don’t care if that person is a nutritionist, or a fitness expert, or a doctor. Our bodies are each so different – the only way that you will truly be able to discover what works for you is if you try out all kinds of crazy shit first. Try every diet you can until you find one that just completely clicks. Some people absolutely thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Others wilt. Some peeps need nuts, but others are deathly allergic to them.
And, if you’re a meat/fish-eating animal-lover like me, don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty about giving your body the nourishment it needs for you to function at a ten. The world deserves you at your best.
*P.S.* For those of you who are interested, the two farms that I purchase animal products from are Thatcher Farms and Blue Haven Farms in Rockwood, Ontario (Canada). Both are regular vendors at the Guelph Farmers Market on Saturdays.