2 - How to Use This Book as a Daily Guide
Sister Vegetarian's 31 Days of Drama-Free Living: Exercises and Recipes for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit
Donna Michelle Beaudoin
"I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."
—Fannie Lou Hamer, Civil Rights Activist
I felt like Fannie Lou Hamer. I was sick and tired of all the stomach and colon ailments I experienced when I ate meat. I was sick and tired of being hospitalized for belly pain and the accompanying vomiting that the physicians couldn't figure out the cause for. I was sick and tired of catching colds and viral infections every couple of months. I was sick and tired of seeing relatives, friends, and acquaintances passing before their time, or even hearing the television news reporting on someone dying young.
I looked at the woman in the mirror, and saw someone who was sick and tired of being sick and tired of illnesses arising from the foods I ate. I knew that, unless I made a change in how I lived, I was a potential candidate for the diabetes, heart disease, and colon and stomach cancers that had plagued both sides of my family. I knew that becoming a vegetarian (and, even more, a vegan) could have made all the difference to them, and I knew the same for myself. I wanted everyone, whether I was related to them or not, to be the walking living and not the barely walking dead. I was ready to be alive and well! I needed to become a vegetarian.
Nonetheless, I found becoming—and, more significantly, remaining—meat-free very hard. I wasn't alone. Co-workers and newbie vegetarians would exclaim how difficult it was to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle, and how they'd give up almost as soon as they started. Many would transition for months, and then just never begin; others would go cold turkey, as I did, and then start eating meat within a month, or six months, or a year. I even read on a forum about one woman who'd been a vegetarian for six years and then had just given up because she couldn't deal with being the only vegetarian at family events. If, I thought, someone who'd maintained a diet conducive to healing our bodies and energizing our lives for six years could feel such social pressure, then how much more difficult must it be for vegetarians just starting out?
The question was, of course, partly personal. I, too, knew what it was like to be the only vegetarian in my household, family, circle of friends, and place of work. I knew how it felt to be the odd one out—or thought of as just plain odd—and understood the pressure to want to fit into the meat eating world. Why was it so hard to start and maintain something that promised so much health and wellness? How could I, let alone others, keep on this path without wandering from the road, falling off the hill, and tumbling down the mountain?
I've come to the conclusion that the reason is, in a word, drama. By "drama" I don't mean the challenges that life throws at us, or one's desire to act like a prima donna or diva! I'm talking about the inner battles and negativity that can all too easily surround newbie and veteran vegetarians as we try to live our lives. Although I didn't realize it at the time, my life was consumed with drama about eating. It was only when I made my way through the first thirty days, then two months, then three, then a whole year as a vegetarian that I saw that the drama and the negativity weren't necessary.
I’m now a non-dramatic vegan, and in Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-free Vegetarian and Vegan Living I share my tools of success with you. This guide is a combination of my own experience and the many questions that would-be and new vegetarians have asked me about remaining on the beautiful, healthful, vegetarian journey. These questions include:
- What makes us revert so quickly to eating meat when we're already making positive changes in our lives?
- When we're so close to success as vegetarians, why do we act as though we have a long way to go?
- Why does it take so long for us to become vegetarian—where we're stuck in transition mode? Why not, as the Nike slogan says, Just Do It?
One way to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle is by having what I call a strong mind. With a strong mind, we can see ourselves as successful vegetarians from the beginning, acting as though we've been living a vegetarian lifestyle for years, even if we've only just begun our journey. A strong mind enables us to believe in ourselves, and see ourselves as vegetarians and not merely lapsed meat eaters. It provides what I call a "Can Do, I Can, and I Will" attitude—every day. With a strong mind we can take on the world and all it has to offer with a smile and a positive disposition because we have the proper tools. A strong mind and daily affirmations can positively reinforce "Can Do, I Can, and I Will," and lead to "I Win!" We become able to handle any situation and comments that oppose our choices. (I talk more about this subject in Day 12.)
Think about it: If we find ourselves constantly treading in a puddle of water because we can't see it, and then having to go home and dry ourselves and start again, we'd be wise to investigate why we can't see that puddle and then make sure it no longer escapes our notice. That way, not only will we see the puddle before we step in it, but we'll be able to jump over it or walk around it without starting over. A strong mind and daily positive reinforcement will enable that to happen.
I've divided this book and the positive reinforcements into thirty-one days. If you start your journey in a month with thirty or even twenty-eight days, then consider the extra days a bonus! When you've completed this book, go back to the start and follow again the progress you're making daily, weekly, monthly, and through the years. You'll see inwardly and outwardly how your confidence has increased to maintain your vegetarianism without wavering. And, guess what? You'll wake up one day and it'll dawn on you that you've been meat-free for a year! Congratulations!
I've created this book not only for individuals just starting out, but also for seasoned vegetarians who could use the inspiration and encouragement. Remember the six-year vegetarian who went back to meat? We all could use some positive reinforcement in our lives when so many voices from family, friends, and co-workers are trying to convince us that what we're doing is stupid, unnecessary, annoying, unhealthy, insulting, or obnoxious.
The tools to inspire and motivate you to never give up this vegetarian journey include:
I've included words of inspiration and motivation by up-and-coming writer Tashi S. Winston. One entitled "Encourage Yourself" sets you on your way to the start of Day 1; the other, on Day 31, and entitled "Rights of Passage Reborn," leads you to another successful month or year.
Inspirational Daily Lessons and Stories as Guides
I start off each day with a few words to inspire, motivate, and get you moving to achieve your goal(s). By using lessons and stories that I and others have learned to lead a successful vegetarian life, I hope to encourage you to believe in yourself and become who you want to be.
You Are a Shining Star
At the start of each new day, there's a space to place a star or smiley face. Vegetarianism and veganism should be fun, and not stressful. Be a child again, and give yourself a star or smile to show a day completed successfully. I've also included a goals chart in Appendix III so you can give yourself more stars and smiles for personal goals reached.
Drama-free Body, Mind, and Spirit Exercises
Each day ends with exercises to inspire you even more. Sometimes they involve writing on paper or in this book; sometimes they're simply actions to repeat in order to reinforce a positive inner voice on your vegetarian journey. When we write out our goals, aspirations, and thoughts, we focus more on our words because they're in front of us. We can post them on our refrigerator, bathroom or bedroom mirrors, home or work desk, or wherever we can view them daily. Through positive actions, such as repeating mantras (as on Day 1), we mentally reinforce them and build our power to create a "Can Do" spirit.
Drama-free Exercise for the Body
These exercises enabled me to enjoy a fun, happy, and fulfilling exercise program before I became a vegetarian, and they were even better after I became one. Exercise is a vital component in helping us maintain a healthy, fit, and positive attitude toward life.
Drama-free Easy Recipes
Each recipe is accompanied by a small inspiring story. The recipes range in cooking time from as little as ten minutes to an hour. I've made them simple because, after a full day at the office, you want a nutritious and satisfying meal that's easy on the budget and quick to prepare so you can enjoy your evening. As part of my extra love and encouragement, I've included a bonus recipe from Chef Ricky Moore, who was the 2007 Iron Chef America Warrior in Food Network's 2007 Iron Chef America Thanksgiving Special. In addition, Sister's Weekly Meal Planner in Appendix IV will help you stay on track for a drama-free week and journey.
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What makes this book different from the many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks that provide recipes for every palate, or the many books that offer self-help and inspirational wisdom? Well, Sister Vegetarian's 31 Days of Drama-free Vegetarian and Vegan Living has both—and most importantly it focuses on how you can deal with the drama of when you're craving meat, or your family is sabotaging your lifestyle, or when you feel lonely and alone as the only vegetarian surrounded by meat eaters. In addition to the book, you can visit my blog or my Facebook or Twitter fan pages for inspirational daily quotes and stories to keep you motivated and inspired.
Finally, why Sister Vegetarian? I'm not only the younger sister of three siblings, but I consider myself a part of your family. After all, we're all sisters and brothers in this small world. Think of me as your sister in the vegetarian community—the one who offers support and guidance, with whom you can share stories and concerns and cry tears of sorrow and joy, and who'll congratulate you as you move to better health and well-being. Everyone needs help as we walk this beautiful journey. Sometimes, however, we may not have the support we want or the amount we need from blood relations. Fellow vegetarians can be your extended family, as they assist you through the storms and trials of staying away from meat. I am a part of that extended family. I am Sister Vegetarian.
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