“Let food be thy medicine…”
When I became a vegetarian over 20 years ago, I’m not sure what I expected the future to hold. Would I be more healthy? Or less? More beautiful? Or less? Would my weight remain steady—or go down (or up!)?
Twenty years hence, I can answer at least a few of those questions. (Though I’ll leave the beauty question for others. 🙂 )
Regarding health: it’s definitely better. I don’t get the persistent colds I used to suffer from. And I haven’t had the flu in years. Sometimes when I’ve been seriously stressed, of course I’ve still gotten sick from time to time. But that’s the exception, not the rule. My weight went down. And I’m okay with that.
None of these are the primary reasons I became vegetarian. I did it because I’d heard it was good for the earth. And someone close to me had suffered from a heart attack at the age of 50. I wanted a different outcome (for my family, and for the earth). So, here I am, still enjoying my veggies (and fruits).
These days, it is more and more vital that at least some of us who can make the shift do so, and quickly. Amidst 80 critical game-changers, a plant-rich diet is the 4th most powerful way to curb climate breakdown. Reducing food waste is the third.
For a variety of reasons, some of us can’t (or choose not to) make the full shift to fruit and veggies. I have a friend, for instance, who has a genetic inability to process the complex carbohydrates that are in many otherwise healthy foods. And, food is linked to culture, which is often a precious aspect of our being. Still, there is our health to consider—whether it’s short term challenges like colds and flus or long-term ones like heart-disease, diabetes, cancer, colon issues, etc. Plus, the health of the earth ultimately impacts our own health.
Because, here at Poetic Earth Month, we care about people’s health and well-being—as well as the health of the earth—we decided to poetically focus on food for 30 days during the month of April in 2020. We’ll aim to make it a delicious and vital experience! However, if you’re looking for a more general earth- and climate-care 30 day challenge, we recommend our title Earth to Poetry, which provides a broad overview approach.
How do you feel about eating more fruits and vegetables? Excited to explore? Or dogged by doubt? Personally, I was once doubtful about eating anything that wasn’t bland and beige. I literally whined to my doctor about the idea of eating broccoli, when I discovered that her advice to “eat green things” didn’t mean lettuce.
Whatever your feelings about the idea of eating in a more plant-rich manner, tackle them poetically. Be humorous if you like. Or dramatic. Feeling adventurous and excited? Try a mini manifesto as you begin your journey.
Since I already have a plant-rich diet, I thought I’d challenge myself to break out of my ordinary fruit, grain, and veggie patterns this month. Here are my poetic feelings about the grains I promise to try sometime in the next 30 days.
Barley comes in little pearls
I’ve never sought to own.
Millet makes me wonder:
could I eat it till it’s gone?
Bulgar sounds unfriendly,
but I’m betting on its iron.
Buckwheat offers pancakes!
It’ll be the first I try on.
About that barley, I learned two must-tell things. One, the barley can’t be pearled. Look for hulless barley that is still whole grain. And, two, according to that Good Housekeeping article I linked to above, “People who ate a half-cup of whole barley regularly during a five-week period USDA study saw their cholesterol levels drop by nearly 10% compared to those who went without.” WOW!