I’m not just in the business of making good food, I’m also in the business of helping people improve their health and improve their quality of life. It’s why I offer a meal delivery service of healthy vegan meals all across the U.S. and why I often write two versions of a recipe, one that is straight vegan and the other that is super healthy vegan. Having been plagued with type 2 diabetes and been miserable because of it, I know what it’s like to be on the other end of the health spectrum. My body performed terribly. I had chronic joint pain, my heart beat too fast, my vision faltered, I slept too much, my thinking was foggy, I was depressed and frustrated, and I just hurt. In short, my quality of life was in the negative. That’s when I discovered how to eat a healthy vegan diet and once I did, my health improved dramatically. In fact, not only did I get rid of all those problems, I shot up in the other direction. I became fitter than I was when I was a young athlete, I reversed some of the effects of aging, and drastically slowed down other ones. I am forty and my hair is just showing signs of gray. It’s amazing. Most importantly, I improved the quality of my life.
That, I believe, is the ultimate goal of eating healthy. Optimizing and honing the body through diet and exercise is there to serve that goal, not the other way around. In fact, nearly everything we consider an act of personal wisdom is there to improve our quality of life, whether that is eating healthy, exercising regularly, meditating, or even achieving financial success. Those are all methods, or tools, to improving one’s quality of life. It sounds pretty obvious to me. However, I think that sometimes quality of life is cast aside and the method used to get there becomes the goal. That should never be the case.
Whenever I am helping someone transition to a healthy diet, I always ask myself, what would create the best quality of life for that person? It’s why I give people positive support to transition to a healthy vegan diet, but I never hassle anyone about not immediately transitioning from the standard American diet to a rigorous, no oil, no sugar, no Daiya, no Tofurky, no cake, no dinner rolls, no…well, you get the idea, because often, that attitude actually lowers the quality of life for many of the people I help, unless their health is so bad, that it is immediately life-threatening. While I think that eating that way is an incredibly effective way to hone the machine that is the body, I never forget that the goal is actually to improve the quality of life for that person. Here’s the kicker. Quality of life must take into account the psychology of eating for that person. If someone can move to that type of diet immediately and have their quality of life improved, I strongly encourage them to do it, but if immediately moving to that type of diet will have a detrimental effect on their ability to enjoy life, I encourage them to ease along the path. I balance their psychological needs with the method I use to help them improve their health. And you know what? It works. It’s what I had to do for myself. I needed a cheat day once a week for the first few months. I needed to be able to eat a Tofurky sausage once in a while, or have a cupcake. Having those days available to me helped tremendously. Unfortunately, during that journey, I would sometimes encounter vegan health professionals that were hard-nosed about the type of vegan eating I was doing. That never helped me. Not once. In fact, it often made me feel guilty and prolonged the amount of time it took me to fully transition to a healthy diet. And to be fair, I also encountered some very positive vegan health professionals, too, and I cannot thank them enough.
If you are out there in the world helping people improve their health, I encourage you to always remember that the goal should be to improve someone’s quality of life. Don’t be a slave to the method. The method is just a tool in your toolbox and it should be tweaked according to the ultimate needs of the person you are helping.