Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Did you say vegans?

Our food journey has been an interesting one for sure. Those who have followed me for a long time remember that we had a dream, a farm that made us happy for a few years, but probably happier once we sold it. Needless to say, my girls were raised eating meat (first, wild meat in the Yukon, then our meat from the farm) because at the time, while I was searching for a cure for my migraines and simply a healthier diet, I found that Nourishing Traditions (NT) fit the bill.

You see, I have always been interested in healthy eating. When I grew up, my mom was probably among the first one to buy tofu dog and starfruit at the grocery store and I was teased at school for my brown bread tuna sandwich, 100% orange juice and oat cookies, instead of white bread-mustard-baloney sandwiches, fruit punch and Joe louis in my lunch box.

When I moved out, I kept experimenting with food and one of my lovely roommate was as crunchy as me and we made carrot-juice with wheat-germ in it and very healthy stuff like that... I was 19.

Fast forward to when we moved to the Yukon and we ate a lot of meat because by then what mattered the most to us was to eat as local a diet as possible and that meant moose meat, salmon, potatoes and root veggies, lots of greens, berries, sauerkraut, lots of sprouts and Brian's goat's milk that we turned into kefir. I wish I had access to my old photos, because I have one of little Mathilde (she must have been 2) eating moose ribs with gusto. She looks like Obelix! This is that same little girl that, at 4 month old, grabbed a hold of a cube of beef curry in my plate and started sucking avidly!
Great vegetarian restaurant in St.Pete's center: Meze. My mom had a salad trio that was really good (a falafel salad, an amazing faux-chicken curry salad and a carrot and golden raisins salad).

The desire to produce our own meat and have access to raw milk (which is illegal to buy in Canada) led us to have the farm. Lots of dead animals later and one traumatizing morning when we had to pack our lamb friends in the truck to bring them to the butcher and I had made up my mind to become vegan, by principle (the typical: if I cannot raise my own meat, I will not eat it). I must also say that by that time, we all had become intolerant to the raw milk (no more than to regular milk, but we felt mucousy, just like on pasteurized milk) and after over 4 years on the NT diet, and the GAPS diet (a more restricted NT diet), the migraines and my other health issues had not improved a iota, and I was now convinced after much reading that meat and animal products were not necessary to health and were rather detrimental. They sure were pleasurable food, but not essential to our health.

When I went into raw food, I was hoping for a smooth transition, but it was demanding and frustrating to cook 2 meals to keep everybody happy, but I wanted to give this a try, because my health was a big priority. Five months into a strict low-fat raw vegan diet, I unfortunately did not reap much benefits (if any) and we were all quite unhappy, so I loosened up. Now, my priority is that each and every one of us feels free to listen to her body and make her own decision. I figure it is not my job to expose my kids to vegan-propaganda videos. I eat what feels right to me and try to let go of control. JF cooks the meat outside of the trailer when possible and I don't  comments on what people in my family chose to eat...

Delicious juicy mangoes and homemade green juice (kale, apples and key limes) are still the best choice when it's 36 degrees outside!

The other night we camped in a WalMart parking lot and as soon as they woke up, the girls had a craft project in mind that required some felt, so in we go (see how much I am letting go?! Go me!) and Mathilde spotted the warm ready-to-go chicken (with a very long list of ingredients...) and asked for one (for second breakfast, my little hobbit...). I did not even cringe inside and said yes, sure! She was happy as a clam! 

Don't get me wrong: I still think that the world would be a better place if there were more vegans and no Walmarts, but I do not make those beliefs more important than my relationship with my family. Freeing myself of all those beliefs brings more connexion and love into my life. Because, utimately, this is my top priority. This smile. This happiness. This spontaneity.

It feels so good to be invited somewhere and happily eat what we are being served (and digest it well, because when you eat only raw and eat a regular cooked meal, you sure pay the price...). I love to say we are opportunivores now! A great thing we like to do on the road is go to Whole Foods Market (a health food store), do our shopping and go to the salad/hot food bar after. The girls can see and pick the food they want. Mathilde usually goes for the meat and kale salad, while Mara goes for the cesar salad (or rather croutons with a bit of salad and Aïsha likes to sample different things). Good food for a good price.

And it is so freeing to be able to enjoy a nice italian restaurant dinner without the guilt that comes with it, because, yes, when you stick to a diet plan, there is quite a bit of guilt that comes with it if you go off track, especially if you do it for health reason like I did... If I had migraines, I had no clue if it was because of that one time I went off track and would beat myself off for it... Verducci's restaurant in St. Pete's beach has amazing lasagna, margherita pizza and tiramisù, don't miss it! And The Macaroon in St. Petersburgh center has great gelato (try the espresso, the dark chocolate or the raspberry ones).

Another key to our family happiness is to have what Sandra Dodd calls Monkey Platters available pretty much at all time. It makes such a huge difference. The girls are not asking for food, they are not hungry (no low-blood sugar) and everybody is happy! 

Food is such a big part of our life. Let's not turn this into a power struggle or into something that we are so focused on that we take the joy out of it and then, we create long-lasting problems in our children's relationship with food. And believe me, with 3 girls, this is the last thing I want.


Joanna said...

you are so right!
i started introducing solids with my kid with the "Baby led weaning" and never stopped this way. what i LOVE about it: the kids listen to their bodies and what they eat and how much they eat and when they eat.
it drives me crazy to hear parents always ask their kids to finish their plates or "eat just one more piece of this". how on earth can kids connect with their real appetite and "full feeling" if we always ask them to eat more.
the only thing i decided is to not have some realy "bad" food in the house (a few exceptions but not too much), so that i feel confortable with whatever he wants to eat as all is OK for me.
but that means sometimes he wants some soup in the morning, or cucumber with hummus. which may be strange for some people.
and also, i never have the "desert" thing. fruit is not a desert, it's fruit. so if you want fruit and you want it before supper, that's fine, actually it's supposed to be better to eat fruit before instead of after our meal otherwise it ferments there.
so letting go of control and listening to our kids is the way to go.
bisous bisous

Marianne said...

Quel bon résumé de votre parcours alimentaire! J'aime bien ton terme "opportunivore"! : )

Pendant quelques années j'ai été disons "soft" végétarienne (je mangeais du poisson et des produits animaux) mais je me souviens que je faisais toujours une exception pour le pâté à la dinde de ma grand-mère à Noël et aussi quand j'étais en Bolivie dans les montagnes et qu'on me servait de la viande d'alpaca... pour eux c'était vraiment nous donner le meilleur, et pour moi l'interaction culturelle était bien plus importante que mes goûts alimentaires. J'étais mal à l'aise quand d'autres coopérants-végétariens refusaient catégoriquement les plats. Par contre, je n'ai pas mangé les pattes de poulet, ça c'était au-delà de mes limites... : ) Et je suis redevenue carnivore à force d'être invitée à manger chez mes beaux-parents...

Par hasard, je suis en ce moment entrain de lire un article scientifique sur la "stupidité fonctionnelle" des organisations, en gros c'est la facilité pour une organisation de continuer de fonctionner sans se remettre en question. Je crois que tu es l'exemple par excellence d'intelligence fonctionnelle! Comment se remettre en question continuellement... : )

Laurence said...

Catherine, I love you! :-)

Catherine said...

Merci les filles de vos bons commentaires! Jo, tu m'as beaucoup inspirée en ce sens avec le baby-led weaning et ce que tu faisais avec Matteo. Tu as été une influence majeure dans ma vie à un moment ou j'étais beaucoup dans le contrôle à cause des migraines et de mes croyances! Merci de ta présence dans ma vie!!

Marianne, j'adore l'expression « soft végétarienne » et moi aussi, je trouve ça tellement impoli de refuser un repas qui nous est offert gracieusement par des gens qui souvent si peu à manger par conviction personnelle... Pour moi, la relation avec l'humain prime sur tout.

Joanna said...

je suis bien touchée, je ne le savais pas :O)
toi aussi tu es une influence majeure pr moi, heureusement que tu écris sur ton blog sinon on en aurait un bout à rattraper!
je t,embrasse bien fort et je suis d'accord avec marianne, tu es l,exemple sur pates de la possibilité de tjrs se remettre en question, jamais détenir la vérité, c'est une de tes plus grandes qualités.
làche pas!
becs à tte la gang

Catherine said...

Merci les filles! Oui, je suis pas pire pour me remettre en question!! Le hic, Jo, c'est que toi, tu ne continues pas ton blogue et que moi j'aurai donc pas mal à rattraper de ton côté!

mama julia said...

Merci de partager ton expérience! je me prends beaucoup la tête sur tout ça ces temps-ci. Ma tête aimerait manger vegan, mais des fois je triche pour aller au plus facile. Mon chum est carnivore lui, et n'a pas vraiment de considération diététique et je trouve cela parfois difficile. Je me dis que si on était pareil là-dessus ce serait tellement pus facile. Et puis il y a mon fils de 20 mois. C'est parfois très dur de le voir manger des choses que je considère pas vraiment bonnes. J,ai déjà fait une crise à mon chum car il lui avait donné du fromage kraft! Ton texte me fait réaliser combien out cela n'est pas sain, alors que paradoxalement la quête d'une alimentation éthique et saine est à l'origine de mes choix.

mama julia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Catherine said...

Salut Julia! Merci de ton commentaire. Non, effectivement, ce n'est pas très sain les querelles alimentaires dans les familles... Nos croyances entraînent beaucoup de tensions dans nos relations et on perd souvent de vue les vraies priorités... J'ai décidé de choisir les relations avec ceux que j'aime. C'est la grâce que je te souhaite!

Anonymous said...

Catherine, tu peux nous en dire plus sur les Monkey platters?

Catherine said...

Anonymous, clique sur le lien dans mon texte quand tu passes la souris sur Monkey Platter (ça devient rouge), ça te mènera à la page de Sandra Dodd avec plein d'exemples!

coeurtendre2 said...

belle réflexion!!! merci Catherine!!!

Catherine said...

Merci Lucie! Mathilde vous fait la bisexx