What’s Guiding Your Food Choices?

Canada is set to release it’s first new food guide since 2007 this year, and early drafts have deeply agitated the meat and dairy industries. It appears that categories like “meat and alternatives” will be replaced with “protein”, with an emphasis on including more plant-based protein in Canadian diets.

Eighteen years ago, when I went vegan I remember seeing a statistic that .01% of Canadians were vegan. That was a lonely number, and explained to me why the word “vegan” was so deeply feared and misunderstood at the time. Current stats show that 2.3% of Canadians are choosing to exclusively eat plants. This represents a substantial change and one that is easily reflected in the aisles of grocery stores as more vegan products come to market daily.

In the past, the media, dieticians and physicians have embraced the Canadian Food Guide and have used it as a foundation for their dietary advice. One thing is clear to me, I did not choose veganism in the year 2000 because of any guide, dietician or doctor. I chose veganism because my heart ached when I found the courage to open myself enough to learn about where my “food” had been coming from. Once I opened to the truth, there was no going back. I could no longer say yes to the exploitation of animals in any way for my gustatory pleasure, or to placate the external voices that had found their way into my head.

If we were to get really honest with ourselves, what kind of discoveries would be make when we explored who/what was guiding our daily food choices? Are the voices of our history (previous food guides, parents, teachers, community leaders), the food lobbyists, or the experts paid by the animal agriculture industry our guides? Or are we willing to mute those influences, and listen in a little closer to our own internal guidance?

In my experience that internal guidance can never lead us astray. I am not talking about the voice that says chocolate cake always make things better (guilty), I am talking about the almost silent, yet very real sensation of recoil you feel deep in your gut when what’s on your plate does not match what’s in your heart. That’s the voice that will always serve us. That voice is the one that we would all be better served to nurture and strengthen.

I share an excerpt from For the Love of Vegan Cooking, my soon to be released cookbook to further illustrate this point. As a culture, we must face the discord in our bodies as we continually ask for animals and earth to be destroyed for beliefs that were blindly imposed upon us. What we ingest is a metaphor for how we choose to live. It shows us the kind of world we want to live in. Veganism is not a rejection of culinary abundance; it is a rejection of violence and separation from life. Veganism represents a deep connection to yourself, expressed through food choices.

Setting aside the guides, and toning down the advice, the relentless marketing, and the endless assault of external voices, what kind of world do you want to live in? What daily food choices can you make to create the world you want to see? How good do you want your life to be?

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