MY JOURNEY TO A PLANTBASED LIFESTYLE
A plantbased lifestyle has been a way of daily living for me for the past 36 years. Simply put, it is consuming nutrient dense whole foods for good health. But it is more than that for me. It is living environmentally friendly, sustainable for all living creatures, it is a spiritual awakening, living minimally, positively, powerfully and living a mindful and present existence.
When I was a child my family visited my grandparents every summer traveling by car from Connecticut to the deep south to a town named Tuscumbia, Alabama. Traveling from the city to the country created an impression on me. My grandparents had a large garden in the backyard as well as flowers all around the property.
I was always fascinated with everything that happened in their house. I can remember peach trees, rows of corn and lots of fresh vegetables that came from the property or from neighbors.
My Mama Steele taught Home Economics and made everything from scratch and with her hands. She was the original ARTISAN and lived what seemed to me a simple wholesome life. That too left an impression on me.
I always gravitated to the house plants that my mom cared for. From time to time we would plant marigolds seeds outside. Though compared to my grandparents house our yard was meager, still it had an effect on me.
My mother was not a microwave, fast food, Frozen TV dinner or hamburger helper type of cook. She always used her recipe book or was cutting out recipes from a magazine. Had she cooked the traditional southern pork laden entrees my journey may have been different and more difficult.
This takes me to 1980, when my sister started practicing a plantbased life style and I moved in with her after finishing college at FAMU. Back then, the only words to describe what we were experiencing was the word vegetarian. No one understood veganism and the word plantbased had not been invented yet. We spent the next 2 years exploring and researching what was simple nutrition and cultivating dense nutrients through juicing, blending, dehydrating, etc... Nutrient density refers to the level of nutrition per some specific volume of food. No foods are more nutrient dense than whole, organically-grown foods.
We enjoyed raw foods, fasted, grew and consumed wheatgrass and soon even the stove was covered and we ate only LIVE food. I was ready for this radical transition. I did not want to live the rest of my life on an American standard diet that was getting worse with every generation as we use our technology, production equipment and laboratories to create "food" filled with fillers, artificial flavorings and preservatives for longer shelf life. As soon as I eliminated animal products from my diet and replaced it with whole foods, I felt amazing. My lifestyle was set.
In the 80's, it took a lot of discipline to adopt this lifestyle. We had few books, no internet, no Facebook, no Meetup groups, and no Wholefoods grocery stores. Everything was grassroots. We had our community food co-op called Edge of the Woods in New Haven, CT. That was all. There was opposition from family members as I continued on this path.
Other areas of my life were changed too. My deep connection to a higher power, living simply, holistic living and practicing minimalism. I had no interest in keeping up with the Joneses.
In 1996, I found a position with a natural ingredient company in Lakeland, Florida. My career in management blossomed and I felt a connection with this company that also cultivated my interests for natural ingredients and products. I learned about the natural ingredients and felt grateful my career did not start in a beef factory.
In 2002, I added soapmaking to my long list of "creating from scratch" endeavors. GoodEarth Pure Soaps was conceived in 2016 and is a natural fit for my lifestyle and my passions. Eating nutrient-rich food is as important as using nutritious ingredients on my skin. I don't want to consume or use synthetics, fillers or harsh chemicals. My soaps contain only natural oils with essential oils, herbs and natural colors.
Today I cook from scratch, hang my clothes out to dry on the line and use homemade cleaning products. I make a batch of kombucha every week and I am learning about capturing and baking with wild yeast. This is but a small part of my daily practice. I also completed the Master Gardeners program in 2014 and simultaneously I was introduced to the concept of permaculture in a study group on the book called Gaias Garden. Now, I grow food on our 2.2 acre property we affectionately call the GoodEarth Food Forest, where we thrive on our plantbased lifestyle.
In 2017, it is easier and more accepted to live simply and healthy. It's easy to find fresh local ingredients or local people who also practice living and eating plantbased. The internet is an abundant resource. Now that I am fully retired from the world of management, I am able to incorporate more self sufficiency in my daily practices and am learning to do more with less through minimalism.