Healthytarian Eating Philosophy
In late 2007, I removed all meat from my diet, and in 2008 I removed all dairy, eggs, and processed sugars from my diet. Since 2009 I have been eating a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet based on the Healthytarian principles, which take into account optimal health, along with fresh thinking and mindful living. My diet is made up of real, whole, natural food, with an emphasis on organic, fresh, seasonal, local, and raw foods. Thanks to its wholesome plant-based nature, it is an acid-alkaline balanced diet that promotes optimal health, healing, and protection. In practical terms, I eat a wide variety of wholesome plant foods, namely *fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, as well as fungi foods like mushrooms and sea vegetables, all in their natural, unprocessed forms. I never worry about counting calories or nutrients. There is no shortage of protein or any other nutrients when we eat enough food for our daily needs from a variety of these foods. All of my dietary choices are approached with conscious awareness, mindfulness, respect, love, and compassion for myself, our Earth, and all living beings.
Grocery Shopping: Most commonly, I go grocery shopping once a week for fresh fruits and vegetables and any other necessary plant foods at the time. Depending on the time of year and my location in the world, I also rely heavily on home-grown foods and foods from local farmer’s markets. I have a zero-food waste lifestyle, which means that everything is mindfully used and eaten before it spoils, and the emptiness of my fridge dictates when it is time to go shopping again. Dried foods, like beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and spices are typically bought in bulk quantities once or twice per year unless I am traveling, at which time I buy them regularly in small amounts as needed. It is rare for my fridge to contain any condiments or leftovers; fresh and wholesome meals are my priority.
High-Quality Food: I make sure that wherever I live or travel to, I have easy access to whole, natural, fresh, and high-quality foods. For a few years in the past, during the months of May through October, I enjoyed an abundant variety of fresh vegetables and herbs, and some fruits from a local, organic CSA program. From 2013 to 2019, I grew many vegetables, some herbs, and a few fruits in my own garden and also had access to food from local farmers. Growing my own food was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life! From 2010 through 2019, I also relied on many wild foods that I harvested around my natural wilderness area, namely numerous wild mushrooms, leafy greens, and fruits.
Real, Whole Plant Food: Animal foods, refined sugar products, refined grain products, ultra-processed food, fast food, oils, coffee, alcohol, soda, and all other processed drinks, chewing gum, and candy are non-existent in my household and in my diet. Aside from the sporadic use of canned coconut milk, my household and diet are also free of all canned foods. Minimally processed food items that I may have at rare times include things like organic brown rice pasta and organic tofu.
Raw Plant Food: About three-quarters of my daily food is consumed in its natural raw and uncooked forms, which provides me with a high-raw diet. Any cooking I subject my food to uses minimal heat for the least amount of time required. It is rare for me to consume anything baked, and I never eat any fried, grilled, or heavily roasted foods. All of my fruits are eaten in their fully raw forms, and any nuts and seeds I eat are always raw, not roasted.
Homemade Food: I prepare all of my meals and snacks at home, with an average meal taking me 15 minutes. I almost never follow any recipes because I enjoy and much prefer the spontaneous, creative, and natural meal-creation process. Every meal is created with unique ingredients and amounts, with no two meals ever being completely the same. When traveling, I stay very close to this eating lifestyle, but at times I will purchase some store-bought versions of whole, plant foods that I would normally make at home, like hummus, as long as they are pure and wholesome. For many years I barely ever visited any restaurants; the meal choices, the food quality, and the overall experience was just not satisfactory or ever worth it. In the last couple of years, as more high-quality whole plant food restaurants became available, I have enjoyed a few meals out, especially when I travel outside of North America where food is much more reasonably priced. Regardless, I can say with certainty after all of these years that nothing for me beats or compares to the quality, wholesomeness, and enjoyment of food that I make and eat at home. It is one of my greatest joys and priorities to be fully responsible for my own meal preparation.
Kitchen Tools: The main tools in my kitchen that I use regularly for meal preparation are a Vitamix Blender, which gets used on average twice each day, a Cuisinart Food Processor, which gets used several times per month, and an Excalibur Dehydrator, which gets used several times per year. I used to have a juicer for a few years but discontinued using this tool as juices, even when homemade, were not a necessary or desired part of my whole-food, plant-based diet. I do not own or ever use a microwave, coffee maker, dishwasher, crockpot, or similar appliances.
Since 2008, most days have started for me with a green smoothie, which provides me with several servings of fruits and leafy greens, along with omega-3 rich seeds to start the day with. My usual serving size of this breakfast meal is 500mls or 16oz. Green smoothies are by far one of the most enjoyable, delicious, fastest, easiest, and best acid-alkaline balanced meals.
My next, most common, favorite breakfast meal consists of fresh, seasonal, and local fruit. I particularly do this during the months of the year that I live in warm countries. This usually means eating a filling portion of one type of fruit, such as watermelon or papaya.
During any cooler times of the year or if I need to be extra active, my breakfast may consist of an oatmeal bowl with some fresh or dried fruits and nuts or seeds. In the midst of some travel, and when available, I rely on sprouted Ezekiel Bread topped with wither a pure nut or seed butter and fresh bananas or topped with avocado and other ingredients like tomatoes and leafy greens.
Lunch or Dinner
My most common lunch for years has been a whole-meal salad, which is based on leafy greens and beans, along with various raw vegetables.
My most common dinner for years has been a STAR meal, which is based on a starchy vegetable or a cooked grain, along with gently cooked (steamed) vegetables, mushrooms, and topped with a nut or seed creamy sauce. These can take the form of various coconut curries that resemble numerous Thai and Indian dishes.
Other, common lunch or dinner meals that I enjoy include soups, chili, wraps, veggie platters with hummus, raw or cooked homemade pizzas, raw zucchini noodles, raw or cooked homemade lasagnas, bean patties, and other similar specialty meals.
At times, and specifically, if I have a heavier breakfast or prefer a light lunch or dinner, I will simply opt for a plate of fruit.
Snacks & Treats
If I didn’t have much fruit during the day, I would have some as a snack between lunch and dinner. During warmer times of the year, I will sometimes make a frozen fruit treat in the form of non-dairy ice-cream, using pure fruit, along with other possible whole plant food additions in my Vitamix Blender.
In recent years, I have moved away from snacking between the main meals and predominantly rely on my three main meals of the day as my nourishment for the day.
I do not eat anything after dinner and in the past have maintained at minimum a 12-hour window between my last meal of the day and my first meal of the next day. In recent years, I have extended that fasting period to be between 14 to 16 hours.
High-quality water that is from a wild spring or a clean well or is adequately filtered is my only fluid of choice each day. Although I drink between 1 to 2 liters (32 to 64oz) of water per day, I don’t count or aim for any specific amount to drink. I just take regular sips throughout the day, as needed, and never with any meals. The water is always at room temperature and is never refrigerated or with ice cubes. In the past, I enjoyed some homemade vegetable juices. On rare occasions, and only during cold periods, I have herbal tea or a warm cup of a cacao or carob drink. I never consume any coffee, soda, regular tea, dairy milk, alcohol, or any processed juices or beverages.
My Healthytarian Personal Care Habits
As part of the Healthytarian lifestyle, I take what I put onto my body as seriously as what I put into my body. Today, there are thousands of ingredients in our personal care products that are far from good for our body, our health, or the Earth. To be accountable for our health, we need to be conscious of all of our choices, including what products and companies we choose to support. We have greatly deviated away from nature and what is best for our hair and skin and got caught up in modern-day consumerism that is proving more harmful than helpful to our health, via the overwhelming amount of personal care products.
There are two key actions I live by, and teach, when it comes to smart personal care today:
- The first action is to reduce the number of products we use in quantity and frequency.
- The second action is to invest in the purest, simplest, and most natural, high-quality choices we can for any personal care that we need.
And so, as part of my personal care routine, I use ultra-simple, natural options, and the least products possible. I have experimented with making some of my own lip and skin balms and always try to opt for products from local individuals or small businesses.
Water: The most integral and basic cleansing ingredient is water, and often that is all that is required as part of simple personal care and cleaning. Unless one is engaged in vigorous physical exertion during the day, a daily shower, especially one that includes conventional products is not a good idea. Such products increase our daily chemical exposure and strip the natural and protective barriers of our skin and hair creating dryness and irritation; they waste our time, money, and environmental resources. In addition, chlorinated water, especially hot chlorinated water is an additional health hazard. We can easily decrease our risk and susceptibility to allergic reactions, dry skin, and irritations by changing our showering habits. This does not mean becoming unsanitary or unkept but staying clean in a more consciously balanced manner.
Personal Care Products: Most of the personal care items I use are either unscented or gently scented with natural essential oils only. My first choice is always an unscented product. After years of such practices, it has been incredible to see how much sharper my sense of smell has become and how much more appreciative it is of nature’s natural scents. My sense of smell has re-calibrated so much thanks to this that any kind of artificial scents, perfumes, and fragrances are highly unpleasant and irritating to my system.
- Since 2008, I’ve been using natural soaps and shampoos, which do not contain the most common harmful ingredients for our health.
- Since 2012, I have stopped using all lotions and moisturizers, which include any kind of alcohol and other drying and unhealthy ingredients for the skin. In extremely cold and dry or hot and dry environments, I only use natural oils to protect my skin, such as shea butter, jojoba oil, and almond oil. It has been wonderful to watch my skin re-balance itself and thanks to my optimally healthy whole food, plant-based diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy plant fats, and water, my skin maintains a healthy appearance and is not affected by any skin conditions. The lesson here is that no external product is going to fix a poor internal environment and our skin is a representation of the nutritional status and lifestyle habits that we have.
- When it comes to facial care, aside from using a natural face wash, only sometimes, when I apply some natural eye makeup, I only use water to wash my face and only apply some natural oils to lock in the moisture at certain times. As a woman, I feel very fortunate that I have not bought into the skincare marketing that makes women think that they need numerous products and elaborate facial routines. Simplicity is the key and again, our outer appearance is reflective of how we take care of our inner system.
- When it comes to makeup, luckily here too, I was never a heavy makeup user and over the years my use of makeup has only continued to decrease. I never liked putting any kind of foundation or powders on my face and stopped using lipsticks and any kind of lip coloring products around 2009. I only enjoy wearing some eye makeup, and I am grateful that for years now there have been plenty of choices for natural and vegan eyeliners, eye shadows, and mascaras to choose from.
- As of 2008, I stopped using conventional toothpaste, namely any toothpaste with fluoride, SLS, and other harmful ingredients. I use natural, fluoride-free, and vegan toothpaste and also have my diet to thank when it comes to having outstanding oral health. When we avoid the things that destroy our teeth, such as sweets, juices, sodas, coffee, and refined carbohydrates, and instead nourish our body with the most nutrient-dense whole plant foods, everything thrives, including the health and strength of our teeth and gums. Over the years, I have also experimented with oil pulling and xylitol swishing but have not incorporated either of these on any kind of regular basis. I floss regularly with normal floss and never use any mouthwash or teeth bleaching agents.
- When it comes to deodorants, over the years I weaned myself off of antiperspirants and switched to natural deodorants, then the crystal rock deodorants, and finally to no deodorants, such that by 2010 I was completely deodorant-free. As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle that are low in toxins, I do not find excessive sweating or body odor to be an issue. Nowadays, it now seems absurd to me to consider applying anything to my armpits, especially sticky, fragranced, or irritating chemicals. Given that our armpits provide one of the main detox pathways, to block them goes completely against our body’s natural wisdom and functions.
- Another liberating experience on my journey was re-establishing a healthy relationship with the sun to support my health and not block its beneficial and healing power with any subblock or sunscreen products. Right from my 20s, something felt very off about the idea of sunblock/sunscreen products and as I pursued research on this subject, my intuition was verified that they cause more harm than good. Since then, I prioritize having a healthy relationship with the sun via regular sun exposure in a smart and balanced way, along with a nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich diet which offers some of the best support and protection against any kind of skin burns or skin damage. For months each year, I live in tropical climates but I am always mindful and never abuse my time in the sun. Instead, I always opt to use clothing as the healthiest and most natural protective measure whenever the rays are too strong or I am outdoors for a long time. Only in extreme cases, I will use some natural sunblock based on zinc oxide on very sensitive or exposed areas, such as the nose. Today, there are numerous safe sunblock options that do not contain any toxic ingredients that increase the risk of skin cancer or contain any fragrances, preservatives, and other harmful ingredients.
My Healthytarian Household
The same principles, as outlined above, apply to how I maintain and keep my home environment. First, I use as few products as possible. Second, I use the most natural and least toxic products. These include unscented natural cleaning products, as well as baking soda and vinegar. In our germ-obsessed and fear-based modern society, most people do not realize that they are increasing the risk of allergies and all kinds of respiratory and skin conditions by using conventional cleaners. Not only that, but most household cleaners also contain ingredients that are cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, and neurotoxic. In the end, we treat our homes as if they were hospitals and in our effort to over-sanitize we decrease the robustness and strength of our immune system. There are more things to be concerned about in conventional household cleaners than in the germs that most people fear. When we live a healthy lifestyle, we have a strong immune system that easily keeps us healthy and protected from whatever may be in our environment, such that we do not live in fear.