I’m changing my diet…

Ditch The Food Labels

Today I have a big announcement to share.

I’ve written and rewritten this post over ten times now and each time I’ve struggled with what I want to say to you and how I want to say it. I finally boiled it down to this: Living a healthy, happy life should be about eating whole, fresh foods that make your body feel energized and good — and it shouldn’t be about what we call it.

I have always felt strongly that this blog is a place to talk about seasonal, delicious food and healthy living and I wanted our blog community to be a welcoming space open to anyone curious about eating better — regardless of what they ate or how they labeled their diet. I believe that food and what we eat is an entirely personal choice. And, as I mentioned last week, I feel strongly that there is not one diet or one way of eating that works for everyone because each of our bodies are different.

So with that, I want to share that I have recently changed my diet and don’t feel that the “plant-based” label fits anymore, even though I’m still eating a ton of plant-based meals. When I found my way to being vegetarian in 2006 and plant-based in 2007, I was at a complete breaking point with my health and found myself rushing in and out of ERs due to gallbladder attacks. Being plant-based changed everything for me.

However, for the past year and a half, something has been feeling off in terms of my health and I finally decided it was time to switch some things around in my diet. This was really hard for me to consider because I had always believed that being plant-based was what my body wanted. In January, I began adding eggs back into my diet and last month I started eating small amounts of poultry and seafood. To my surprise, my body responded really well to it and I noticed I was feeling a lot better.

If I am being completely honest with you, then I have to share that I went through a period of time where I couldn’t talk about this with anyone because I was an emotional wreck. Even though I had found my way to this diet for health reasons, along the way, being plant-based had become an immensely spiritual and emotional decision for me. I felt strongly connected to this earth and all of the creatures and beings on it. I never liked eating meat or eggs growing up and I didn’t have any cravings for them. I certainly never thought I would go back to including them in my diet. I’m still coming to terms with this in a lot of ways because it’s such a huge change for me, but I feel really strongly that this is the right decision for me at this time.

I am so grateful for my journey and everything I have learned on it. Over the last seven years I’ve learned the importance of eating real, whole foods, eating seasonally, and choosing quality food. I am excited to continue this journey through this blog and keep inspiring each other to live a healthy, happy life that we love.

So, even though I’m ditching the labels around my food choices, I’m excited to continue sharing my recipes with you that will always focus on real, whole foods, and seasonal veggies. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • More creativity around grain-less meals. (If you’re gluten-free or grain-free, I’ve got some recipes for you!)
  • Lots of seasonal veggie recipes! We’re heading into summer soon (my favorite season) and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite summer dishes with you.
  • More “how to” tutorials. (Including how to soak and sprout legumes and some dairy-free cheeses!)
  • More posts exploring DIY green beauty remedies and ways to live a healthy, sustainable life.
  • And eventually, even a few recipes here and there including eggs or meat.

As I mentioned in my post on my three philosophies around food, health, and life, I’m not here to tell you what’s best for you and I’ve never been the kind of person to be preachy about my diet. I think we all need to make the right decisions for ourselves and trust our guts when it comes to our health.

Wishing you the best in health and happiness,

Sonnet

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Sonnet,

    Thank you so much for your honesty. Labels can be difficult to adhere to, and even today it seems different people have different definitions of what “is” or “is not” included in the label. Thank you for encouraging us all (with your example as a lead!)to ditch the labels and eat well.

    Looking forward to reading more of your great and encouraging posts.

  2. says

    Hooray for label freedom! Congrats on ditching the label and finding what makes YOU feel best. I’m “mostly” plant-based myself, but have always felt better NOT being 100% vegan. People try to label our diets no matter what we do, but just shake it off and sally forth. Labels are for clothes! ;)

  3. says

    Sonnet I have been reading your blog for a long while – I was a vegetarian for over a decade, and when I got together with my husband (a total fast food eating carnivore at the time) our diets had to merge somehow – he started out by eating more vegetarian meals, and I had the occasional bit of meat (and struggled/still struggle with the personal ethics of eating it!). Now, we are both committed to a pretty simple approach – eat whole foods, eat local, tread lightly on the earth and eat humanely and sustainably. (We’re blessed to have local farms around us where the small amounts of meat/eggs/dairy we eat can match those goals)Life and food is a journey, and the happiest people are those that aren’t hung up on the labels but on fuelling themselves in a way that is thoughtful and healthy! I will happily still be a devoted reader :-)

  4. Anonymous says

    Love it! One of the best things I learned during one of my stints as a vegetarian was to pay attention to what I was craving. Sometimes (now) it’s red meat, sometimes chicken, sometimes French Fries; but then you get to say “Ok, maybe I need some more fat in here today,” or whatever it is. Same with what I cut out: if it makes me feel like crap, it gets cut out or seriously minimized. It “should” absolutely be about what works best for you.

  5. says

    Label-free living is the best. Everyone has to find their own “perfect fit” when it comes to diet and exercise. Thanks for being honest and sharing about your decisions. No matter what recipes you post now or in the future, I know they will all be AMAZING!! :)

  6. says

    Sonnet- this is Anise, from Antioch. I saw this through Stephanie Billings facebook and wanted to comment. I’ve gone through the labels around food too, and more and more I see how these identities (and I think they are identities) end up causing more barriers between us as humans and between us and the planet. I’ve done a lot of thinking about why it’s become so common to identify with one diet or another, almost like a religion. It’s interesting the history around it. I’m working on a book on food and spirituality, it’s taking a long time, but all started an Antioch. This topic about how to have a deep and profound relationship with food while at the same time allow it to be open and fluid, I’ve noticed has become a focus. Anyhow- good work being open and going to the balcony!

  7. says

    Great post, I really enjoyed reading it, and I have extremely similar feelings to what you wrote. I have been mostly vegetarian now for a while, but occasionally I like to eat some eggs or seafood too. So I like that I don’t have to put a label on what I eat, I’ve been enjoying eating fresh healthy foods, and this post encourages me to continue to follow this route. Thanks!

  8. says

    You are brave and beautiful and I admire you tremendously. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for labels to lead us away from health if we’re too focused on fitting the mold instead of listening to our bodies.

    I’m mostly vegan, sometimes raw, and never eat animals. That’s what works for me. My sister eats a very similar diet, but she feels best with small amounts of meat from time to time.

    Honestly, as long as we’re all focused on small farms, local food, avoiding anything from the big box stores (especially when it comes to food), and respecting where our food comes from, I believe only good things can happen.

    I’m proud of you for sharing so openly.

  9. says

    I love this with my whole being! Thanks for your honesty and perspective. I can really relate. I get asked “So are you still vegan?” and I get frustrated that I ever attached a label to myself in the first place. I often try shrugging if off by saying “Actually I’m ‘Mary,’ eating and doing what feels best for me” ;)

  10. says

    I think you’ve done an amazing job of simply speaking about food and health. Your blog has always been welcoming so it never felt like a restrictive label to begin with. Looking forward to your new posts and recipes!

  11. Rachel Tomczek says

    I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your journey!! I have always felt reading your blog that you hold a space that is warm, welcoming and inclusive for all who are seeking to be healthier in general. I’m excited to see new recipes and continue reading about your journey!

  12. says

    After trying out things for years…that is what I have come to. I believe it is what our bodies are designed for – Real Food, NON-GMO, Organic Foods! So many health problems would disappear if we would go back to it. Great post and wonderful site!

  13. says

    I have a vegan friend that made me feel guilty for my occasional egg and Friday night Chicken sandwich. I too feel better when I add a bit of egg and chicken to my diet. I feel less guilty after reading this lates post. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Kiri says

    Sonnet, you are so freaking amazing! I literally felt my body expand as I was reading this post. I am sharing this with everybody I know! Your words are so needed right now. Thank you for sharing this and doing what you do.

  15. says

    Honesty in return:

    -My heart always breaks when I hear animals are being killed and eaten
    -Labels are constricting and worth ditching
    -“eating whole, fresh foods that make your body feel energized and good” is a mission I can get behind

    I appreciate your courage and honesty and look forward to continued reading and learning and growing alongside you.

    • says

      Thanks Mollee. To be honest my heart breaks too knowing that animals are dying and it’s a spiritual struggle I’ve been dealing with. My hope is that I can be a stronger advocate for the way that animals are treated and help to reform our current system of factory farming, which doesn’t benefit anyone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. :)

  16. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies says

    I feel so strongly that the way I eat is what works for me and other people should eat what works for them. I HAAAATE when people are preachy or have an attitude that because they don’t eat [whatever], no one should eat [whatever]. I’m glad you were honest about the changes you’ve made to your diet instead of hiding them. Your blog should reflect how you eat! :)

  17. says

    Nicely done, Sonnet! SO brave and vulnerable to share this with your community and they, in turn, support you in this big life change. I’ve been recently struggling to answer the question, what’s your diet? I feel silly saying I’m vegan and occasionally eat meat when my body needs it. Seems like a contradiction but it doesn’t really matter as long as I/you/we each feel that it works for us. Much love and support to you on your evolving journey!

  18. Anonymous says

    Hi Sonnet,
    It is so important that our bodies feel good. Doesn’t it make such a difference not only physically but mentally?! I so appreciate your honesty in this matter. I was a vegetarian for a year and I felt cravings for protein so I now eat meat but it was hard to be honest with my family. My daughter is still a vegetarian and we support each other in eating healthy. That is our main objective :)

    Have a good long weekend!

    Janet

  19. says

    Just after reading your post, I read the following: (yay you! sending you a big hug!)

    Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:
    Once I was with a sage whom many people went to see. He pleased them all, and he was not fond of disputing or discussing, because to a sage there is nothing to discuss. Discussion is for those who say, ‘What I say is right, and what you say is wrong.’ A sage never says such a thing; hence there is no discussion. But the world is always fighting and discussing and disputing.

    Many would come and try to dispute with him, but he did his best to avoid dispute. I was very fond of listening to his way of dealing with inquirers. My friends wanted to discuss what the ideal life is. He said, ‘Whatever you think it is.’ But my friends were not satisfied with this. They wanted a discussion. They answered, ‘Do you think this worldly life, with so many responsibilities, with strife from morning to evening, can be the ideal life?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ They asked, ‘Do you not think that the life you lead, retirement and seclusion, is the ideal life?’ He answered, ‘Yes.’ They said, ‘But how can we give up our present life, our responsibilities to our children, our occupations, and all these things that take up so much time. How can we leave that life in order to follow your ideal life?’ He said, ‘Do not leave it.’

    They went on, ‘But, if we do not leave it, how can we get on in the spiritual life?’ Then the sage asked, ‘What do you mean by the spiritual life?’ ‘We mean by spiritual life a life like yours,’ they answered. He said, ‘If you think my life is a spiritual life, be like me. If you think your life is a spiritual life, keep to it. It is not possible to say which life is best. If you think your worldly strife brings you happiness, just keep to it. If you think my life gives you happiness, give up your own. Whatever makes you happy and makes you think you are doing right, do it from that moment, and see what the result is. If it gives you more happiness, go on regardless of what others say. If it gives you happiness, if you are satisfied while doing it, while reaping its effect, then it is all right. Go on with it, and you will always be blessed.’

    from http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/VII/VII_29.htm

    People discuss dogmas, beliefs, and moral principles, as they know them. But there comes a time in a man’s life when he has touched truth of which he cannot speak in words; and at that time all dispute, discussion, argument ends.

    from http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/IV/IV_34.htm

  20. Anonymous says

    but i am a vegan and i wont drop it. Veganism is way of living not only diet. vegans change their diets due to moral reasons and to end the cruelty of killing animals. so vegan is not a label on one’s diet…

  21. Kim says

    Congrats on being a thoughtful, honest and adaptable human – I admire and am always inspired by you!

  22. says

    Sonnet! You are awesome! This post came at such a great time for me- I feel like we are in the same boat and I couldn’t be more proud of your post and comment responses. Keep up the fantastic work!

  23. Lindsay says

    Hi Sonnet! I was a vegetarian for 10 years (and vegan for brief periods in there). I started eating meat a couple years ago. After 9 years of no meat, I started craving it and nothing would kick the craving. So after about 9 months, I caved. I still eat a plant-based diet, but I eat fish about once or twice a week and beef about twice a month. (I hate chicken… is that weird? lol). My transition to eating meat was really smooth, so I hope yours is too! You have to listen to your body, whether it is avoiding toxins, increasing raw foods, or adding in meat. :)

  24. Sharon says

    I can really relate to this post. I was a vegetarian (and tried to be vegan) for several years. It was very hard to get my protein and when I tried vegan, I was getting ill from lack of protein. I also had emotional mood swings from the lack of protein.

    I have switched back to eating meat and it has been very hard for me. In my heart, I don’t want to consume animals. I love them all so much. I’ve prayed for a way to be a vegetarian but it hasn’t worked out. I do try to eat vegetarian when I can.

    • Kay says

      There are so many ways to get protein as a vegan. I’m a runner, and I lift weights, and I get plenty of protein. You should do some research, and work on improving your diet. Vegan doesn’t automatically mean healthy.

      • Sonnet says

        Thanks Kay. Absolutely. I completely agree with you here. I ate a very healthy plant-based diet and included a large variety of protein sources including tempeh, beans, lentils, etc. My health issues weren’t all about protein and I believe that everyone’s body is completely different. :)

  25. MT says

    Makes me really sad. We get to choose what we eat – and it greatly impacts the world around us. Meat is not “food” but living, sentient beautiful loving beings who feel pain. who have distinct personalities. and deserve to live.

  26. says

    Love it! One of the best things I learned during one of my stints as a vegetarian was to pay attention to what I was craving. Sometimes (now) it’s red meat, sometimes chicken, sometimes French Fries; but then you get to say “Ok, maybe I need some more fat in here today,” or whatever it is. Same with what I cut out: if it makes me feel like crap, it gets cut out or seriously minimized. It “should” absolutely be about what works best for you.

  27. Maria C says

    I loved this post of yours. I recently started eliminating wheat from my diet, and am trying to reduce the number of starches and grains. I hate how friends have started to ask me “are you gluten-free now?”. I hate that label. I don’t want to be boxed in with “gluten free” products filled with GMOs and highly processed, unhealthy ingredients. Am I gluten free? Am I paleo? No, I’m me, and I’m progressing towards a healthier diet that works best for me.

  28. Sara says

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post. I was vegan for two years and was an absolute mess when, just 2 months ago, I started adding animal foods back into my diet. Some people were supportive while others made me feel like total shit. I agree- no more labels! We all must do what is right for US. I adore your blog and look forward to a new year of posts. Thanks so much for sharing, for being honest, for inspiring. xo

    • Sonnet says

      Thanks so much for sharing, Sara! It was really hard to make this change and especially to go public with it, but I think we all have to listen to our bodies and trust our inner wisdom. I’m so glad that you’re feeling better and you’ve had some folks who were supportive and helpful. :)

  29. Robyn says

    I say I am vegetarian that will eat a bit of fish. My husband is the only one who knows my “dirty” secret, that I eat meat on occasion such as chicken or beef. It is less than once a month, but it does happen.

    I prefer to say vegetarian so I do not get “forced” into eating meat. I am very picky about what I eat and where it came from and was processed.

    Yet, I agree. I hate the labels but they do help others identify what how we eat.

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