Friday, December 6, 2013

Jay-Z, Beyonce, Natural Is Cool Enough and Vegan: What is the Connection?

In my last post, prior to the piece that I wrote about Nelson Mandela, I promised to share the experience that I had when I decided to go vegan for a week with my husband.  It all started when we watched a film about the vegan lifestyle and why some make this choice.  I'm not going to get into that detail but suffice it to say that we considered all of the various reasons and decided that as homage to animals that have sacrificed their lives for us to eat them, we would, for one week, not eat any meat, eggs, fish, etc.  This decision was made by me and my husband so I headed to Whole Foods and purchased only vegetables, fruits and food designated for vegans.  I'm kind of a cheese-a-holic so what I really struggled with was not going to the gourmet cheese section to grab some gouda, lambchopper, or manchego, which are all my favorites. Instead, I focused on grapes, avocados, kale, veggie burgers, tofu and other foods, which fall into the vegan genre.

Surprisingly, yesterday, in the morning, I saw a short piece on television indicating that Jay Z and Beyonce are going on a vegan diet for 22 days (http://entertainment.time.com/2013/12/04/beyonce-and-jay-z-going-vegan/).  I think this is fantastic as I must say that being vegan was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  It was definitely easy to acquire vegan foods and everything was absolutely delicious.  I didn't miss anything terribly that I would normally eat but I did feel, at times, that I was placing a limitation on myself.  For example, if I wanted a piece of fish or meat, as a vegan, I would have to deny myself something I desired.  I do this all of the time because there are certain foods that I want but just will not eat because I have decided that my body deserves better.  I eat, in my home, absolutely organic. I am very conscious about every piece of food that I buy and I am aware of what is good for my body and what is not.  It is not about weight or meeting some kind of social norm but the idea that I love my body and appreciate it and under no circumstances do I want to do harm to it.  This love for my body guides my food choices. I never put anything in my car but what it needs to run optimally, so why would I do otherwise with my body? So I try to refrain from less than optimal food as much as possible in my life, which is most of the time, but I definitely have my moments otherwise.

As I went through the experience of being a vegan, albeit briefly, I also became more in tune with how I am caring for my natural hair.  I took a good hard look, again, at the products that I use and I felt and continue to feel proud about my choices.  Shea butter, henna, 100% natural oils and natural shampoos and conditioners are what I use, for the most part.  I realized that during the time that I was experiencing being a vegan I had a heightened awareness of my body.  I purchased a wonderful salt scrub with a natural oil base and used that for the entire vegan week.  I used this scrub on my face as well as several times a week and on alternate days I used either black soap from Africa or lemon juice for my face. I continued to drink a cup of hot lemon water, as I always do, every morning, before putting a morsel of food into my mouth.  All of these things led to my truly feeling good on the inside and the outside during our vegan week.  I even used flouride-free all natural toothpaste, which started well before our vegan adventure. All of these items will continue to be a part of my life, indefinitely.

So,  the bottom line is that I enjoyed being a vegan for a week.  It was refreshing and cleansing and created a greater sense of awareness regarding eating healthy and being natural inside and out. My locs received special attention during that week and that was definitely a bonus.   After the week, we decided not to remain as vegans but we definitely eat less meat and poultry. We eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, fish and tons of fruit and I went back to cheese, but minimally. We developed a greater appreciation and respect for the vegan lifestyle and of course, I keep it totally natural in terms of the products used on my hair and the rest of my body, for the most part. What the vegan experience taught me is that,  I think,  sometimes we have to stop, reflect and try something new.  I also felt that it was definitely cool to seriously take note of and reflect on the experience of animals that we consume.  I asked a lot more questions at Whole Foods about the rating system they use for the meat they sell in terms of how animals are cared for before they are prepared for consumption and when I do choose to eat meat or eggs, particularly when I buy it for my home, I pay attention to this because I believe it matters. At some point, I may become a vegan although I am not ready yet.  What I am ready for is an openness to the possibility and to learn more before and if I make this big leap.

Ultimately,  what we learned at the end of our vegan for a week adventure is that when it comes to food, your hair, your body, your teeth etc. there is no doubt that Natural Is Cool Enough, which is N.I.C.E.! So Jay-Z, Beyonce, Natural Is Cool Enough and Vegan equals, for a brief period in time, a connection around the notion that Natural Is Cool Enough.  I hope they too will share their experience.

Below are photos of some of our delicious food choices during that week, which we continue to love!
Quinoa:  Delicious!!

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