I have had the desire and inclination to turn to a whole food plant based (or vegan) diet for at least 7 years. As a holistic health coach, I am well versed in the benefits of eating plants. Over the years I have developed stronger cooking skills, experimented with new exotic grains, and taught myself to eat most veggies (I still don’t love beats, mustard greens, or eggplant). I have read dozens of books on diet, health, and nutrition. I know all of the benefits for my body, the animals, and the planet.
I am a compassionate person who has worked in a humane organization rescuing animals. I am a health-conscious Virgo. I am fascinated with the effects that diet and nutrition have on the systems within the body and our ecosystem.
All of this… and yet I have struggled.
For at least 7 years I have had the desire to be vegan, and yet I have continued eating all the wrong things. I have educated myself more that some dietitians on plant-based eating, and yet put it into practice very inconsistently. I have yearned for health, and yet I have eaten myself to obesity.
Thus began my search for why? Why can’t I make this change? Why can’t I find a way to live aligned with my values? Why am I making myself so miserable?
The answer is found in the mind. While I have tried to blame my body, my emotions, the world around me, other people, and the food corporations, the truth is that none of those things have done anything wrong. None of those things are the root of my behavior.
The root of behavior is the thoughts we think. The Buddha tells us, all that we are is a result of what we have thought. We are formed and molded by our thoughts. My obese body stems from my behavior. My behavior stems from my thoughts. My thoughts are directed by the mind.
“The ancestor of every destructive action, every destructive decision, is a negative thought.” – Eknath Easwaran
I have been making destructive decisions. Decisions that have led to my waning health, vitality, and happiness. I have been in a state of depression and suffering due to the my negative thoughts and destructive actions. The turmoil within my mind has marched me down a path to living inauthentically, and out of alignment with my values.
Therefore, the solution must begin with the mind. I have all of the knowledge I need. What I am lacking is a still mind. With a mind that is racing wildly, churning up negative thoughts, it is impossible to make the lasting changes that will lead to inner peace. Without peace, you cannot find happiness. Without peace, you cannot make decisions that lead to wellness. Without peace, you cannot act from the authentic Self.
Mediation, and mindfulness, is the key to calming the mind and training the senses so that you are no longer swept away by the negative thoughts that lead to destructive actions. For those of us who are food obsessed, or food addicted, the key to eating a healthy diet for life is to first still the mind.