Finding the spirit in abundance; what it means to go plant based or vegan

My heart was racing with excitement, my breath caught in my throat as we pulled into the open field. The six or seven tents seemed to be drowning in the green that surrounded them. I felt the warm breeze and smelled fresh earth from the fallen rain the night before. It was a sense of the unknown made me almost giddy. My mother had driven me to my first farmer’s market only ten minutes away from our home. She was not as excited as I was and was merely entertaining me and my insatiable curiosity for food.

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The farmer’s market seemed to be a dream come true for me at the time. There was a variety of produce from beets, to greens, eggplants, carrots and tomatoes. There was local honey and local maple syrup. Everything I saw on the food network when Ina Garten decide to go to the farmers market in the Hamptons. The colors of the vegetables and the people were what was most exciting for me. It was here that I got my first job and it was here that I experienced what cooking with fresh food could taste like.

An Italian woman by the name of Rosita was giving out samples of homemade tomato sauce made with local ingredients. Sweet, tangy, fresh, herbaceous and floral from the basil; I had fallen in love. This was the first experience I had with something whole food plant based. Until then I filled my life and my mouth with canned foods, frozen foods, and foods from a box or a tub. Frozen broccoli with a slice of melted American cheese on it was closest I came to fresh food.

It would be eight more years before I embraced the idea of eliminating all animal foods from my diet. Even after working with the very woman that had opened my eyes to fresh food that day at the farmers market. I enjoyed the sugar, the salt, and the fat that provided me little if any nutritional value but got me through the day. Addicted to the foods that were making me bigger I felt nothing but depressed and self-hatred.

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Fast forward to my last semester of college when I studied Zen Buddhism. It was then that I began to question the diet that had brought me to the dark place I currently inhabited. People assume a Buddhists goal is to reach Nirvana or enlightenment, but a Buddhist's true goal is to end their own suffering- a condition of being a human on this plane of existence.

And that is what I sought to do when I decided to go vegan and then move towards more whole foods. I wanted to feel happy, content and joy all the time- the feelings I achieved when eating only plant foods. I wanted to align myself with my values and feel good doing it. I felt as if I had lifted a veil on my life and I had the freedom to just be.

I found in myself a compassion and love I'd never experienced. Breathing was easier and pains dulled. I began to heal from the inside out, even when I thought I didn’t need healing.

When you eat living, high vibration food you feel alive. It’s beautiful, scary and wonderful all at once. You start to feel the same excitement I did when going to the farmer's market. It’s not an immediate fix- there is no such thing; but the reward is worth it.

The reward of connection and mindfulness to savor that fresh tomato sauce all the time. To feel the life it gives you.

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Reconnecting with my source (the earth) has given me a profound sense of purpose and I want to share that with you. This is a journey I wish to join you on as we both learn to rediscover our true selves through the food we eat.

Never under estimate the power of your food choices. Let’s learn to enjoy the earth and its bounty. Let us find your spirit in the abundance of the earth.

Ali Lawrence