Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Vegetarian Experiment...

I was a pretty strict vegetarian between the ages of about 15 and 22...

The primary reason was at that time I was following the 5 precepts of lay buddhism, the first of which ahimsa is the principle of non-violence.
I couldn't, at the time, abide eating meat and taking life when it seemed to me to directly contradict the first of the principles I was following.
However over some time I seemed to 'come to peace' with the eating of meat.
A few things changed my perception:
1) We have evolved eating meat, we have evolved to eat meat, and we actually (in spite of what some will say) need to eat meat to survive (in a natural state and without supplements). Body composition is also proven to be better when eating a diet containing meat, when compared to an isocaloric vegetarian diet (and even when compared to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet)
2) I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in my early 20's and soon realised that many of the foods I was eating were affecting me adversely. Particularly as I was also a strength athlete and was seeking to optimise body composition and therefore preserve a critical mass of protein in my diet. Many of the protein foods I was eating (legumes in particular) were exacerbating my symptoms.

I could see fairly unequivocally that we have gotten to this point in human development and human evolution doing certain things over the long term. One of which is eating meat. It has been again unequivocally shown that we have eaten at many times in our development large amounts of meat. We are by nature scavengers and we ate what could be hunted, found, or 'kill' that could be taken away from predatory animals.
Because of this I found myself thinking that "I am..therefore I eat meat!"..
And that because I had been put on this planet as an omnivorous animal it really was simply the cycle of life that I would eat meat.

I also felt fully accountable for the eating of meat.
I grew up hunting and fishing, but was bought up with the strict rationale that we only hunted for the table. Not for trophies and not for sport. What we shot we ate....plain and simple.
In fact as a young, nearly vegetarian Buddhist (albeit one who still ate meat) the event that finally convinced me to become a vegetarian was walking down a hillside on a frosty evening, carrying an arm load of warm goats meat.

We had shot a wild Nanny goat coming out of the bush and after butchering it on the hill side we had to walk it back to the car.
There is a certain smell that goes along with death, and this was amplified by the mist rising off the sitcky warm flesh I now carried out....and at that moment I realised that I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to take life any more...and I didn't feel that I could, in good conscience buy sanitize packets of meat at the supermarket

Now before any of my vegetarian and vegan readers criticize me for my former and current taking of life please consider that I have taken these lives by my own hand on many, many occasions and so truly believe that I am accountable. There would certainly be many, many more vegetarians if people had to (even if only once) take the life of an animal they were going to eat.
I also don't feel any joy when we do this. In fact both my father (a wonderful, loving, passionate and kind hearted man) and I feel great remorse and sadness when we take a beast. We also feel almost overwhelming respect for these great creatures of the bush. So why would we take their lives?
Because we eat them.
That may not seem like a good enough reason. But I'm not here to convince anyone of my motives or my morals. I am comfortable in my own skin.

I do recognize the seeming contradiction in my previous points though, and although I take contradiction in life as being a given (anyone that is too extreme always paints themselves into a corner of hypocrisy) I decided earlier this year to drastically reduce my meat intake.

A few points to consider:
- I believe that meat is NOT bad for you.
- However most of the meat that people eat is TERRIBLE. The only meat people should eat is grass fed, free range and organic. (As applicable)
- People eat too large a portion size of meat in most cases. Consider that for many people a protein intake of (for arguments sake) 25g is ample. That equates to around 150g of meat. Most steaks at restaurants are at least 300g...
- Vegetarians who eat well (not 'potato and bread vegetarians') often eat a greater variety of cool vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes and so get ancillary, health promoting nutrients.
- Many vegetarians have a better relationship with their food because they spend more time preparing and researching. Mindful eating is a great conduit to relaxation and spiritual development.

I decided to limit my meat intake to dining out. Any meals that I prepared at home were to be vegetarian.
I also eat (much of the time) very little diary, only using butter in cooking and occasionally using natural, organic yoghurt; gluten (coming mainly from occasional spelt or rye bread)and eggs (even though they are in the random, sample day below.)

A challenge would be to avoid the irritating compounds and enzyme inhibitors present in nuts, seeds and legumes. Over the years I have developed the habit of soaking nuts, seeds and legumes that I use anyway and this has mitigated (thus far!) any negatives arising from getting my protein from these sources.

Example day:
French Toast made with organic free range eggs and spelt bread. Warm unsweetened almond milk with a little agave syrup. Soaked almonds as a snack.

Smoothie (AM and PM snack):
Mixed ground flaxseeds and shredded coconut, PhytoProtein (Golden Pea Protein), Athletic Greens (greens product), blueberries, banana, unsweetened almond milk.
*All ingredients organic*

Sprouted chick peas, lentils or other legume with mixed salad of kale, collard greens, chard. Olive Oil dressing and mixed nut/seed mixture.

6 weeks in....
I estimate that I ate meat approximately 4 times in the first month and about the same in the last 2 weeks.
That equates to a total of 8 meals based around meat...which previously would have been 4 days!
And this far it seems to be working out. I didn't want to do the typical body composition measurements to see whether my experiment was 'working' (our buddy Dr John Berardi has already done that!) but instead wanted to see how I 'felt'. A big component of what I teach in nutrition lectures is about learning to listen to our bodies and this is exactly the way I wanted to approach this...

...and you know what?...

I feel pretty good!
As far as I can tell my muscle hasn't dropped off, I'm still lean and mean and most importantly I feel great!
So while I won't be giving up meat completely I have certainly, for the time being, found a happy medium....but if you see me eating a big steak give me a break...at least I'm not a non-warrior chicken eater!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Living Gluten Free Community - "Choosing Health!"

I had a wonderful night presenting to Vancouver's 'Living Gluten Free Community'. My lecture was based around the subconscious beliefs that we hold and how these are created, how they affect our health and what we can do about it.

Thanks to everyone who attended. I hope you left inspired! Feel free to post your comments here at my blog.

We can choose to be happier and we can choose to be healthier!
[Please note that sometimes when embedding there are formatting errors]

If you would like to know more about what was said (i.e. not in the slides!) please contact me via the addresses on the contact page to enquire about booking speaking engagements.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 - A year of loss, a year of growth.. (AKA musings from the day bed...)

2009.....what a year!

It was a year of loss, of hardship, of trial and tribulation and coming into the end, on this the last day of the year that was, and about to head out to have a fine glass of syrah-grenache with my best friend Kent, I am tired...

Tired as at the end of a hard days work, when you know that you couldn't have practicably done more than was done.
And so it's a time to reflect...

2009 was a year that challenged many of my beliefs about myself.
The economic crash showed evidently some of my misplaced confidences of youth...and in doing so made me even more empathetic to the plights of those who have been less fortunate in life.

It showed just how much we need to constantly 'be' to live each day as if it's our last, and to not rush forward, with eyes only for the future with time, time our most wonderful currency slipping through our fingers to never be recovered again.

And in saying that it also showed that there are times when we truly must sow the seeds that will lead to a future bounty to reap. And that sowing is not always easy...in fact it can be a battle, a battle though that makes us stronger, assuming always that we don' let it blind us to the moment, and close us to the magical wonder that the day holds. Most of all we need to confront the work steadfastly but not let it guard our faces to the smiles that should come as naturally as the snows in winter and the blooms in spring.

I lost much in 2009, it was a year of financial hardship for many and I was not immune to that. It was a time to tighten belts - but again this held a kernel of blessing, and many turned away from materialism and began to appreciate more simple pleasures - a moment with friends, a walk in the forest...

These losses though are merely the window dressing to life's ups and downs...the losses that strike most are those of the ones we love. And in 2009 it was the loss of my dear Uncle Dexter, a loss I still feel each and every day, who was a Grandfather to me, and for whom I wrote this eulogy:

"I was born in the winter of 1979 in the shadow of great men..
I was named en homage to my grandfather, who I new only by reputation and by the tales of men's men, and Clifford Dexter Harvey - my Uncle, my friend, my mentor.

As young boys we find 'home' embodied in the arms of our mothers and test our limits and we define our boundaries against our fathers but we find our first true friends in our grandfathers.

These buddies, these mates, these teachers and role models were for me my grandfather Maurice Chandler and Dex - who filled the role for me and Charlene and for Dad that was left vacant by my grandfather.

I spent summer holidays and weekends staying with Dex and Betty.
Their place was like a fairy tale setting for me. A huge garden where I could be a general on a battlefield or a hunter in the woods.
That great house with it's nooks and crannies that became fox holes and forts.
And my fantastical meanderings were sparked by the tales of hunting, fishing and the army - the things that shaped men like Dex.

We were fuelled by the abundant feasts that Bett invariably laid out. Nothing has ever tasted quite so sweet as the beans out of Dex and Betty's garden and in my years of travelling through over 20 countries the finest gastronomic delights pale in comparison to a home cooked meal with Dexter and Betty.

I couldn't have wished for a greater role model.

So much of what I have done in my short time on this earth has been driven by my desire to make them proud. To be a man in the mold that they threw. And I think that's why I have at times wandered and explored and sought my fortune and my path far afield.

It's reason why I have competed in strength sports and the pugilistic arts - because these men - Grandad, Dexter and Dad fought and struggled to give us what they never had.

I know that it's the reason that I have stood up after being knocked down in life, on the street and in the ring.
I remember one occasion where I was laid down by a glove and on hitting the canvas there was but one thought in my mind - and that thought was of family. It was of the warriors who have gone before me and toiled for us. Dexter was the epitome of that for me. And so I got up - because he would have done the same.

Greatness is often measured in the ligthly shifting sands of fame and wealth.
But greatness is built by the stones of things far more real. The stones hewn by a life well lived.
Greatness is not created nor demonstrated by a life of ease and doing what is easy. It is defined by doing what has to be done, by standing up and being counted. And doing these things with honesty, loyalty and humility.
Greatness is built by this and tied together by the mortar of love. Something that Dexter gave and in turn received in abundance. He had the love of his life in Betty. The love of his family, who revered and still revere him. And the love of friends and colleagues...not to mention that of all the neighbourhood children who also became the surrogate children of Dex and Betty.

Dexter though was not one to talk of credo and virtue. He was too humble and his was a life of action.
So much of where I stand today is due to the lessons I learnt from Dex.

Greatness is certainly not measured in stature for, for as we know Dexter was not the tallest of blokes!...
But his shadow is cast long.

I remember whilst growing up, that virtually every time I would see Dex and Betty that Bett would comment on how big I was getting or how fast I was growing (for a Harvey that is!) and Dex would invariably tell me, with a gleam in his eye; "One day you might even be as big and as strong as your Uncle Dexter!"

And I hope that I can one day Dex....
I try to this day to be even half the man that you were, half the man that you still are in the hearts of everyone here.

I love you Dex - I stand in the shadow of a great man."

And although this loss...and others cut me to the core...and continue to do so, it was also a year of wonder and a year of growth...

I feel on reflection that as a practitioner and more so, simply as a 'person', I have evolved perhaps more this year than any other.
The struggles and the long hours have solidified and fortified my resolve. I've regained my 'hustle' and I know that having come through adversity before and always stronger, wiser and more caring, that this will be no different, and leaves one with a bursting energy for 2010.

There has also been a strange acceptance...We all have times when we feel that we are not quite at ease withing our skin. And in 2009 after taking stock I realised that there was a disconnect in my practice, and in my life.
And that 'disconnect' was the divide between what I did as a nutritionist and natural therapist, and what I believed in a spiritual sense.
And so a spiritual (some may say esoteric) bent began to permeate my work.
Whilst always backed with a scientific rationale I learnt more, studied and integrated energy healing, mind-body healing and spiritual counseling into my practice...with absolutely astounding results!
I had thought there was something missing from my healing practice and I feel now that this adventure has opened up avenues to healing that provide the final 'pieces of the puzzle'!

In this year I feel that I have also come to peace with much, not least of all a peace with God. Not a construct of God that someone has built up. For no matter what we each perceive him to be God is love...(The truth in simplicity!)

2010 holds much - A new venture, building existing businesses....2 new books! There's much to be thankful for, and much to look forward to!

Have a great New Year everyone! Live, laugh and LOVE....because if you don't what's the point of it all!

'let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love'

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