I have recently ventured back into my old food stomping grounds of Macrobiotic and Vegan toward being healthier. (See recent post)
Looking back, I started thinking about why I got off the Macro program.
In a previous post, I mention that the Macrobiotic diet was too strict. This was not just strict rules of the food do’s and don’t list.
It was also the strict people on the program.
I recall when I left the Kushi Institute to moved to Ann Arbor. I was teaching Macrobiotic cooking classes at Whole Foods and I had a fan.
This woman came to everyone of my classes, asked tons of questions and approached me during breaks and while I was packing up to talk shop.
Then during my dessert class, I used fruit juice to make a vegan cantan (jello) that was sweetened with agave nectar. Macrobiotics are strict about their sweeteners and agave was not on the list.
She called me on it and that was that. During the class break she left and never returned to another one of my classes.
I had broken the strict rules of Macro and I guess in her eyes I was no longer a part of the tribe.
And this is not an isolated experience. I felt judged and like an outcast for not being a perfect macro eater on many occasions from the community.
I suppose this is common. Vegans may do the same thing if they outed me eating a cheese burger.
The thing is we need community.
When you start a new healthy lifestyle, it is easy to feel like an orphan.
Everyone else is eating pizza and steak and we are the weirdos in the corner eating brown rice and spouts.
Of course, we figure that we will eventually find other people from a smaller tribe of folks who eat and think our new way, but imagine that this new tribe is a tough room with strict rules.
We already broke ties with the majority of folks with our new healthy lifestyle. But say if we also feel left out of the small tribe?
That is how me and Emily felt. Although we embraced the Macro diet (for a time), we had a hard time with the strict people.
I also felt this way when I was on Weight Watchers. The community is more flexible, but week after week, from the lectures, I got the message that the folks who strictly followed the program were where it was at. The rewards were from following the program and the shame/failure was from not.
For me Food is more than nutrition. It is about community and being social.
Food is about life.
This brings me to my “Mostly” Food Community idea.
While I probably could not pass for a Strict Macro or Vegan today , there are many things I have in common with these community, but if they are all-or-nothing then I am shut out (or faking in order to fit in).
So I propose the idea of Mostly Food Communities. These are folks like myself who for the most part follow many of the practices of a food community, but are a little more flexible.
They can bring a vegan/macro dish to a vegan/macro potluck and share food and community, but they are not all-or-nothing folks.
A good example of this is my community garden pot lucks. We have meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, not to mention all sort of folks with various food allergies and personal food rules.
For the most part the offerings are vegetarian with many vegan items. If you want great veggie dishes good to a community garden potluck.
I tend to bring a vegan dish, but their will always be the guy who brings pork ribs or chicken wings. The difference with my community garden potlucks is that no one walks out in a huff because someone broke their food community rule. They simple don’t eat the wings and opt to hit up the vegan tabouli salad and grilled tofu.
The potluck is a mixed food community with tendency to vegetarian.
As for going to a Strict Food Community event, I would comply with the food rules. I mean, I don’t want to be the guy who brought the pork ribs at a kosher potluck.
With that said, I am going to my first social vegan restaurant dinner on Tuesday with a large vegan community.
I plan to eat an all vegan meal for the event, but if asked I will say that I am mostly macrobiotic/vegan.