I spent much of my life hating what I saw in the mirror, being insecure and criticising myself. From my early childhood, I felt out of place, always comparing myself to the popular pretty petite girls and finding myself lacking. I was an awkward kid, with few friends. In my teens I was forever trying one diet then another. I did them all! Adkins, Dukan, shakes, low calorie, low carb, low fat, fat-free, eating only fruit, eating only cereal, I even tried the cabbage soup diet (I don’t recommend any of these!). I’d lose a bit then put it straight back on and then some, I was never satisfied, I was never enough. Fast forward to my early twenties, the constant yo-yo dieting morphed into bulimia. Enter a cycle of overeating and starving that’s so similar to the disordered eating patterns many of us experience today. It’s a pattern encouraged by our modern lifestyles. We’re tempted and seduced by food advertisements and then made to feel guilty for not fitting into the media-sponsored beauty ideals. We stuff our faces then run to the gym, or the plastic surgeon. Enough already!
Nutrition for Body and Soul
I got over bulimia thanks to a wonderful therapist. But while I was no going to the gym three times a day to burn off family packs of Liquorish Allsorts, my relationship with food was still skewed. Feeling I shouldn’t have “bad” foods, periodically gorging on sugar, feeling guilty for eating, criticizing myself for not being “perfect”. I was obsessed with food, and read every nutrition book I could get my hands on. I’d say reading probably saved me—I devoured page after page on self-help, alternative therapies, psychiatry, philosophy, law of attraction, shaman medicine, feminism, spirituality, herbalism… The penny dropped: what I fed my body had an impact on my mind, what I fed my mind had an impact on my body. Getting healthy had to involve a shift in my mental and spiritual diet, it was about more than food alone. Over time, I developed my own set of self-care strategies, based around plant-based nutrition, self-acceptance, mindfulness, positive thinking, and, most importantly, love.
Inclusive rather than Exclusive – Why Plant-Based
From pescatarian, I went vegetarian, then gradually more and more vegan. Cutting out most animal products from my diet and adding more plant foods allowed me to overcome many of my issues around eating. I fell in love with food again. I’d say I’m around 90% vegan now, so I prefer using the term “plant-based”. If I’m housesitting and looking after happy chickens and they’ve laid eggs, hell yes I’m going to make an omelette! To me, “vegan” is a mind-set—more about being cruelty-free than belonging to some exclusive club where only those with the “purest” “cleanest” diets are allowed. Doing the best you can for your body, while doing the least harm possible to animals and to the planet.
London Office Girl to Van Dwelling Digital Nomad
The year 2012 was a year of major shifts—for me it was the year I realised I wanted a different lifestyle to one where day after day I got on the same hamster wheel, working a job I didn’t enjoy, stuck in a toxic relationship, living a life that felt like a scratchy sweater you’re itching to throw off. It took me several years to figure out what that lifestyle was, and to pluck up the courage to leave my 9 to 5, spend the savings on an old VW Westfalia campervan (named Lofty) and set off traveling with my soulmate. Between wild camping and house-sitting, freelancing to fund our journey, we are slowly making our way around Europe in search of the perfect place to settle. You can follow our adventure here. Events on our travels confirmed my desire to be more deeply involved in food, so I’m currently in London, studying at the College of Naturopathic Medicine. Next stop… who knows. The universe has a funny way of offering up opportunities where we least expect them. The trick is to go with the flow.
We are facing a huge climate crisis. We’ve known it since the 50’s. Despite what bought-and-paid-for scientists might affirm on certain strident media channels, mankind’s obsession with corporate growth, consumerism and profit is destroying the source of all life: Earth, our home. What was once a paradise where species coexisted in lush abundance is now turning into a barren, hostile, unstable land. It feels like humanity has completely disconnected from Mother Nature. The consequence is a diseased planet on the brink of oblivion. At the same time, we have disconnected with ourselves—eating synthetic “foods”, numbing our souls with legal highs (alcohol, caffeine, sugar), and denying our true, natural beauty and inner strength.
So what can we do? What hope do we have of saving Mother Earth for our autumn years and future generations? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the task, to feel like giving up. But if we do nothing, nothing will change. Radical Bee is my way of doing something, of funneling the sadness I feel for our planet and its earthlings into positive action—sharing information that empowers people to green up their lives, in any small way. And if just one person gives up palm oil, eats more locally grown, makes her own body oils, goes plant-based, it’s worth it. This is my way of being the change 🙂