Inspiration from Meghan

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Labels are for tin cans- and I mean it!


Labels are for tins cans– is a line in my creed, but I also mean it fully and completely.

We’ve  been immersed in the world of all things UnDiet as we plan our six month blog tour, book launch, book club and loads more- we have been calling on people to join forces with us.

I have been surprised by the questions we get back and have come to realize the following:

1. That all too often, subscribing to one diet or another seems to become a dedication where people become unable to open up to or support the fact that there is no one best way to eat for everyone on the planet.

2. The wild and wide range of assumptions that have been made of my own diet and the assumption of point two above, that I will not work with someone who doesn’t subscribe to how I eat (or how they think I eat).

For the most part, it seems, I am assumed to be vegan. Many have labelled me vegetarian. Some even consider me “hard core healthy“, and the result of these assumptions about me- have people ‘confessing’ that they eat meat, drink coffee, or even have the occasional doughnut- fearing that these common habits may have me running in the other direction. However- I was never assumed to be vegan enough to participate in a Raw/Vegan festival. I have been reported to the Toronto Veg Association for discussing the healing powers of chicken soup on one of my retreats.

The truth is that unless you have hired me to tell you what to eat, you can do as you think best for yourself. I’m good with that. I don’t pay attention to the labels and neither should you.

Your diet of choice is not who you are. (Tweet that gem!)

I have never at any time given a label to the way I eat. You won’t find my eating habits tattooed on my body and you won’t ever find me telling you that you need to eat just like me to be optimally healthy. And this is for very good reason.

I sincerely believe that there is an optimal way that each of us need to be eating and that each of us require our own unique formula. I do not believe that the vegan way of eating is absolutely right for everyone, all the time, ongoing. I also couldn’t say that everyone should be eating meat, ongoing, all the time either. I know people who reversed disease and lost loads of pounds on a raw diet and people who did the same by transitioning to a paleo diet. I also know individuals who subsequently gained weight or developed cavities on a long term vegan diet. Dr. Gonzales has case studies of specific cancers that require a veg diet to heal and other cancers that require high amounts of organic meat to heal.

When you read someone’s blog and they boast a certain way of eating that is creating health miracles in their lives- it becomes so inspiring. Be inspired by others- but don’t ever let anyone’s personal miracle diet make you feel like that is the only option for you.

I know through personal experience as well as through my work with others that our diets require modification ongoing. As I’ve spoke about before, a certain diet may serve us for a time. A specific way of eating may help us to overcome a health challenge, but does that automatically mean that this way of eating needs to be how we eat forever and ever? I don’t think it does.

We live in an environment where seasons change,  our activity levels change, our hormones change, and we age. All of these factors and so many more will influence what the right diet is for you at any given time in your life, and it is then up to you to determine whether the way you are eating is continuing to support your own optimal health, or whether it is time to make adjustments. Don’t ever be attached to a dietary label that sacrifices your health in the process.

I can tell you that if I were to love and support you as a vegan, I will love and support you just the same should you decide you need eggs or broth or whatever in your diet. Your diet of choice is not who you are. You being you is who you are and I would hope that what you choose to eat ultimately acts to support who you are in the most optimal, awesome, health supportive way.

Don’t label me. I won’t label you. Save the labels for the tin cans and lets all agree to keep those tin can foods on the grocery store shelf and instead, agree together, to just eat real food.


Share it! Your diet of choice is not who you are

26 responses to “Labels are for tin cans- and I mean it!”

  1. Shannon C says:

    ThiS is a fantastic post, Meghan!

  2. Bonnie Duchscherer says:

    Dear Meghan, thank you for this blog, you really have sent out an important message as it can get so easy to get into one way of eating, and think that is the only way everyone should eat. Your statement on seasons and different stages of life is so right. I think if it is kept organic, and fresh, so you can go with the with the flow of life, that’s what’s important.

  3. Meg Watkins says:

    I completely agree! Over the past two years, I have become 98% vegan, but rather than give myself any traditional label, I choose to tell people that I am a “conscious eater,” because I don’t think anyone should be made to feel bad about themselves for doing what is best for their body, or for having a moment of weakness. There isn’t anything I *can’t* eat – there are only things I *choose* not to eat, because of the way they make me feel, because of how they are sourced, because of what they do for our world and the living things in it. I try to always make conscious decisions about the food I choose to eat before I put it in my mouth, and to make sure that this food is feeding me, and treating our world, in the best way possible.

  4. Danielle says:

    I just loved this post! Thank you reiterating it again your diet is not what defines you, no one diet is perfect for everyone, and our bodies and environments are always changing – so why shouldn’t our diet!

    I’ve begun eating meat again and was very worried how others would react – i.e. ‘I told you so’ from the ‘meat-eaters’ and shame from the vegetarians and vegans. Fortunately I’ve found people could really care less! Ha I think so long as we are honest and authentic and choose our food with integrity that is the best choice – regardless of what ‘diet’ it may happen to fall under.

  5. Raeanne says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Meghan. I’ll be sharing it myself!

    Once at an informal group meeting at my work, we were asked to introduce ourselves a bit, so I did and in doing so mentioned that I was studying holistic nutrition. After I said that, the most senior manager within my organization responded, “so you’re vegetarian?” And said no, but I’m selective about what I do eat and try to eat as clean and organic as possible. And he then responded “oh… so you run around your backyard and catch the chickens yourself” – which a chuckle, I might add. I’m not going to say where I work… but if you knew, it would bring this to another level and make you wonder about the state of food in our country… (I’ll let you infer from there) :)

  6. Jesse (OutToLunchCreations) says:

    Great post! I feel the same way about labels and diets. Sometimes when I’m taking to people about food and my blog they assume I’m vegan or vegetarian and I almost feel guilty saying ummm no I eat meat. Right now I’m still trying to find the “diet” that works well for me but I’m sure it won’t be found under a label and I know I won’t be following it forever. I also remind myself that its great to strictly stick to a “healthy diet” but if finding the foods that fit into that diet are causing me stress then its worth rethinking. Although diet can make a big difference in our bodies, stress can do a lot of harm as well.

    I noticed you mentioned a six month blog tour, I’m not sure how you are running it but I would LOVE to participate! I think my readers would definitely be interested in your book and I would love to help spread the word.

  7. Ami L says:

    ahhh I REALLY love this post. I think the most important thing is people just focus on eating actual REAL food! The whole labels thing drives me nutso.

  8. Christa says:

    Thank you for this Meghan…

    My husband and I have discussed food and the way we eat at great length. I have been following a vegan diet (although still with honey) for almost a year now, and my husband has just recently decided to stop eating meat. He stills consumes eggs and dairy, but is also learning that not all dairy is created equal.

    I decided very early on that I would never ‘preach’ to him or ‘scold’ him about what he’s consuming. He is a grown man and can do what he chooses. However, it is still my job to teach him what I have learned so that he can make informed choices. It has worked extremely well, and thankfully he will eat anything that I put on his plate :) I don’t want those labels, I’m not perfect, and neither is anyone else. I do agree, there is no perfect ‘diet’, I’d rather not stress about how ‘vegan’ I am. Life is to be lived, not struggled through.

  9. Ashley says:

    This post is amazing. And so much of what is here was mirrored in a few conversations you and I had on the beach last year in beautiful St. Lucia. It’s very easy to get caught up with labels, but it’s ultimately best to do what is right as an individual in that time in your life.

  10. Sunshine Mama says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing this post is! I used to want to “be vegan”, but every time my hubby (who works away) would come home, I’d end up eating meat, like the rest of the family. I felt like such a failure for a long time, just because I was trying to adhere to a label, set by myself. I was setting myself up for failure. I still eat meat from time to time, but for the most part, I’ve been eating a plant based diet, because it’s what my body needs right now not because I want a label. I just try to be in tuned with what my body needs and how it feels at any given moment, and go from there. Right now, tofu makes me feel like crap, but the occasional fish or shrimp works for me, so be it. I can have my fish and green smoothie too. I’ve been thinking of writing a blog post about this for quite sometime, as many people think I’m vegan. This is just the inspiration I needed! Time to stop feeling ashamed for not eating a certain way and just BE!

  11. Andrea says:

    Awesome post.

    I can’t remember if I’ve said this already – I was thinking it in response to a recent post – but when I’ve mentioned you to people in the past, some who knew about you were certain that you’re vegan. I even had an argument with one friend about it the first time we met. I had to tell her, “Trust me. I’ve known Meghan online and off for years. I know.” People make assumptions, and it’s not like you’re sharing every meal you have with your blog readers.

    How we eat, our eating lifestyle, becomes part of our identity, like our religion and our sexual orientation. If we change any of it, people get confused because we live in a world of labels and frames of reference. There could be stigma – and in some social groups the person could be ostracized – but there’s no reason for it in a world of open-mindedness and choosing love over fear and labels. Choices don’t have to be forever. This is one of the reasons I hate labels. I believe that it’s all fluid, whether it’s food, sexual attraction or spiritual beliefs. I remember way back when you started with “Labels are for tin cans” I responded that for years I’d been saying that “Labels are for products, not people.”

    This part of your post, “I have been reported to the Toronto Veg Association for discussing the healing powers of chicken soup on one of my retreats.” surprised me.

    I want to hear all about it some time – and have been meaning to email you to see if you can fit in lunch before you go to Costa Rica.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    Your blog posts are almost always insightful and well thought out, as is this one. I agree; labels can be counterproductive, and one certainly doesn’t want to be labeled as a healthy-eating “fanatic.” I was reading one book recently (totally unrelated to diet and health) that had a quote along the lines of “the only thing worse than an evil person is a zealous one.” However, there are many issues involved in our choice of diet, or at least there should be, that go beyond what is best for the individual. There are humanitarian issues relevant to the way we raise and slaughter farm animals. There are global social issues, including what is a sustainable diet in a world with so many hungry people. And there are a myriad of environmental issues in an ever warmer and more crowded world. It is for these many reasons that I am vegan and believe, not in a religious or zealous way, but in a science fact-based way, that we should be eating a plant diet. That doesn’t mean I feel we should condemn or criticize people who eat animal foods, but at the same time I don’t think we should shrug it off to personal choice and pretend that it makes no difference. As global citizens, I think we have to consider the bigger implications of what we eat. I don’t give friends who “admit” to having satisfied a craving for beef the evil eye, but I do believe we should at least have an awareness about why our choices matter in a way that goes beyond trying to “find the ‘diet’ that works well for me.”

  13. Sandra Medina says:

    Great post! What a refreshing perspective. XO

  14. Lori says:

    What an insightful and amazing post Meghan! It is so freeing and empowering to realize that we can all just travel along our own nutritional paths without having to worry about labels and judgement. Thanks for sharing!

  15. xobolaji says:

    meghan! you are SO awesome!

    love this post.

    it’s funny. i *follow* a number of healthful food, nutrition and wellness folks on twitter because i like the diversity. i literally cherry-pick the inspirational bits that work for me. like you, i would never presume to tell anyone what they *should* and *should* not do, since i believe that we have to let our hearts, bodies, minds and souls guide us. and like you said, not every remedy as prescribed for the masses is intended to work for every single person who experiences a particular ailment, or who wants a specific biological or physical re/action to take place.

    in my own home with my two girls [4&7] we talk about food choices and we talk about things that have more or less nutritional value. no food is off-limits, and i don’t encourage food-restriction. we talk about how what we eat in terms of how it makes us feel and look. for example, my eldest has food allergies. there are many things she cannot eat, but there are terrific options. she knows that eating gluten products will make her gassy and bloated and that gluten leeches the moisture from her body. i have never told her that these foods are entirely off-limits, rather i’ve told her that when she does eat them, she needs to be mindful of the consequences.

    what i LOVE about your approach is that it’s doable and practical. people can go as *hardcore* as they want, if they want. you leave the door open for them to explore according to their own will and volition.

    i’m looking forward to your book. and for real, you NEED to be on the foodnetwork. make it happen sunshine, you’ve got the goods! xo.

  16. Lisa Borden says:

    I’m a Lisatarian.

  17. Anne says:

    Hmmmm. I just read this again… It gave me lots to digest! Love this post. I have eaten vegetarian food for the past decade… But had some people frown when I tell them I eat fish. Then I would encounter people who were surprised that my diet did not include chicken.. Then I became pregnant and craved and ate eggs. Then when i was done breastfeeding I became vegan for three months until I became pregnant again… My diet has evolved and really changes! I spent the past couple months, again, as a breast feeding mother enjoying and craving seafood and eggs and green juice and vegan dishes. At parties I felt incredibly shy and apologetic , trying to explain to friends that I am not vegan at the moment but love eating vegan…. This post is really going to help me feel comfortable with my diet and how it has been evolving with me! Thank you.

  18. olivia says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I hope your words and the understanding attitude behind them really “go viral”….not only in the healthy eating blogs but even into our souls!
    I have been feeling so conflicted in what I WANT to eat vs what my intestines ALLOW me to eat. It has been a journey to say the least!
    Thanks for giving me the words to say when the topic of food comes up….and I love to dialogue about food so it comes up a lot. Thank you for soothing my soul with a message of kindness and understanding in this area. This is the first time I’ve read your blog and I am so glad it was this post!

  19. Susanelizabeth says:

    Meghan, I cried when I read this!I was a vegan many yrs ago, but began having issues. I am also a recovering food addict, bulimic and Type 1 Diab who’s extremely sensitive to carbs, any kind. Even healthy options for desserts trigger my cravings so I don’t eat them(raw cocao too as I have adrenal issues). So, so many vegan/vegetarian/plant based food plans have lots of beans and starches, though healthy ones(I don’t do process carbs). I’m also grain/gluten and dairy free, so you see my issue! As I have aged, and as a result of yrs of abusing my body (recovery date 1987) I have had more and more issues with digestion, including the fact that because of multiple car accidents, I can’t chew raw veggies, most fruits, etc, so I blend and juice quite a bit. I have been struggling with what the heck to do and it’s a major struggle emotionally as I want to be a vegan again, I do ,and yet my body(blood sugars) revolt with carbs and when doing so I must resort to blending most of it as I can’t chew well. So, I’ve been praying and looking into a healthier paleo diet like Dr Oxe follows( for many reasons other than he uses organics, healthy options only). And yet, there’s this battle that goes on in my mind.

    Therefore, Your post helped me immensely and I plan to move forward with this. I found you through Jess(Wellness Warrior) and love your energy. Sadly, most of your recipes I can’t use because of my lack of ability to chew them, or because of the ingredients. God bless you and thank you SO much for your honesty and light you shine to others!

  20. hannahransom says:

    Love love love. I totally agree with you.

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