The Spring I Went Vegan {Body-Mind Peace}

Last winter, a little over a year ago, I found myself reading a number of books about food and the five elements. I learned that spring, the wood element, was the time to purge the body of toxins and excess fats after a long winter, before summer bursts in all its fresh, raw glory. As I read, I felt a tug to go vegan for the first six weeks of the upcoming spring. "What? Are you nuts? Give up cheese and yogurt and ice cream? No way." And yet the gentle feeling continued to flow over me, like an ocean wave: go vegan. I took it to be a message from my body that going vegan was something it wanted. It was hard. It required a lot of discipline. I had to dig deep into why I choose to eat what I do. I thought a lot more about where my ingredients were coming from. I thought more about what each one was doing for my body. I found myself relishing the greens, herbs, and whole grains as I never had before. And I learned, through practice, a more focused way of treating myself, body and mind.

I saw that temporarily denying myself my "comfort foods" stilled my mind, allowing my body to be better heard. I learned that my muscles, heart, blood vessels, liver, and kidneys craved dark leafy greens, healthy fats, wholesome grains, and other good-for-you foods. Focusing on eating only those foods during these six weeks strengthened my body and its resolve to eat things that nourish me and make me feel good.

And then there was the cheating. In the past, when I've craved carbs, meat, sugar, or dairy, it was often a response to feeling upset, torn, angry, or helpless inside. Gorging was my way of rebelling against those feelings, trying to control my body in some semblance of controlling my life. Those few times during my vegan fast when I chose to eat one of my gluten-free chocolate cupcakes or some of my slow-cooked pork, it was as an act of joy and pleasure rather than obsession and control. It allowed my mind a chance to speak too, but without yelling over my body's gentle whisper. 

I'll always remember that spring. It was mentally challenging. It was physically cleansing. It brought balance and peace. And I'd never appreciated how delicious chicken and chocolate tasted (though not together) after those six weeks were over.