By Joe Martino, Collective Evolution
I first started shifting my health and becoming more aware about what I am eating about 10 years ago now. It came because I would literally keel over and go into gas fits when I would eat bread from Subway. This was the start of me thinking about going vegetarian or vegan. To note, this piece was inspired by a friend who has a similar story.
To be fair, this could have started because when I travelled across Canada and the US by car over a 2 month period I probably ate about 60 subs as I was eating 1 – 2 a day. My stomach was getting peppered with low quality bread that simply doesn’t digest well. Not only that but, I grew up eating a standard western Italian diet which included a lot of cheese, bread, pasta and meat.
So I started to think to myself long and hard about my body, my diet and what was happening. It took an extreme event to really stop me in my tracks, but I began to realize I was having signs all over the place that something was wrong many years before.
My Obvious Health Problems
Before we continue let me be clear about something, I grew up eating a diet that would be considered pretty healthy in western standards. I rarely ate fast food, 90% of my meals were home cooked and my mom had a good sense of how to balance a meal in ways many would consider fabulous. Meat, a grain and veggies. Every meal had veggies. We ate things like pasta, chicken with broccoli and rice. All the veggies you could imagine. Lasagna, homemade burgers and other simple foods without a ton of processing. By far my, and our family’s worst habit, was having a Coca-Cola at dinner.
I share this because many people might feel I ended up the way I did, with digestive issues, because I ate a ton of junk my whole life. But I didn’t and that’s an important note. It’s also an important note that I didn’t have consistent and obvious problems with dairy or wheat my whole life, they slowly built up over time.
Firstly, I was gassy all the time. Not just farting, I was burping constantly. My burps came after every meal and would last for hours. To me this was normal, I saw so many people around me doing the exact same thing. Farting, burping, being bloated. I thought it was just a factor of eating. For a moment I thought I was gluten intolerant or something, but it was happening no matter what I ate.
I also noticed I was getting tired a lot, but then again I thought it was normal. Coming home after school or work and wanting to have a quick nap. Again, I watched as everyone around me was doing the same thing so I thought this was normal too. After meals the fatigue would often kick in too as I made my way into my 20’s. Finally around 20 or 21, it was hitting a wall.
I would literally get bloated from dairy, meat, wheat, fruit, veggies, EVERYTHING. When I would eat things like dairy, meat or bread I definitely felt much worse, but everything was truly an issue. But again, as I would talk to people, other than when I had my burping fits and stomach pain from bread, everything seemed normal compared to what everyone else felt too.
Intuitively I Felt Something Wasn’t Right
Deep down I knew this couldn’t be right. Feeling this way, seeing everyone feel this way, it didn’t make sense. For me it took having these strong stomach pains and burping fits to finally do something, but for many, it’s still seen as normal.
So I decided to start cutting things out of my diet. Meat, dairy, bread, even things like legumes for a while. I mainly focused on a vegetarian diet. I ate eggs sometimes but not too often, and I also had fish maybe a couple times a month. Over the last 10 years, I have primarily eaten a diet people would call vegan. Today, I still eat a diet that doesn’t utilize animal products because I feel great and it resonates deeply with me.
When I was starting this journey, as time went on I began exploring the community of people that were vegan or vegetarian whether it be people you meet or people online sharing their experience. I started to realize something that didn’t resonate with me. There was a decent portion of people that called themselves vegans that were very angry, extreme and upset with people who weren’t vegan.
In the exact way many psychedelic drug users are constantly trying to convince everyone they need to take psychedelics, vegans are often trying to aggressively get the world to go vegan. And if you didn’t, look out.
The judgement, the anger, the hate.. I felt these people were harming themselves more with their feelings and emotions than people who ate meat from time to time. Then I thought about it even deeper. Who are we really? Are we what we eat? Meaning, are we really here to define ourselves by our dietary choices?
This is where I chose to not identify as vegan regardless of the fact that I don’t consume animal products.
Who You Truly Are
It wasn’t because I was trying to avoid being seen as vegan, but because I felt that label didn’t truly project who I was. I believe, like many other things, it creates more confusion, division and loyalty to others of ‘the same kind’ much like identifying with our cultures, traditions and countries we’re from can.
And this is a happening that’s taking place in a number of ways these days. Whether it be people identifying with being cannabis users, vegans, following diets like paleo, a sports team -anything really. It’s like an identity we build within ourselves as another layer of ego that I believe we take on for a number of reasons.
1. We want to feel better about our choices that we have doubt about, so we aggressively push them onto others or identify with them so as to not have to look at our own doubt. In essence, we aren’t coming from a place of peace within ourselves, we’re operating from the ego.
2. We are hiding from some other form of emotional challenges we have within ourselves. This seems most prominent in regular cannabis users and psychedelic users, but I feel it happens to people with food as well.
3. The ego is a tricky program. Once you step out of one box, the ego looks to quickly identify with another box. It wants an identity and way to express itself. This creates more suffering than we realize.
The Interesting Experience of Not Choosing To Identify
I’ve never been loud about the things I am attracted to per se. And it’s interesting what happens as a result of that. This isn’t something that just happens to me, I’m sure it happens all over, but I’m going to use myself as an example to illustrate the point.
People often assume I am a certain way because I founded Collective Evolution. Because I’m often not loud about my intuitive abilities or ET experiences they might think I’m simply a highly logical person or not spiritual. I don’t dress ‘spiritual’ or attend ceremonies or ‘spiritual’ like things and thus people think I’m not spiritual. I see this happening all the time and while I understand that it’s a journey of going through various identities for people, I want to share the message that true ‘spirituality’ isn’t something you have to prove to others. You don’t have to even call yourself spiritual!
We’re in a time where spirituality and consciousness are becoming trendy. And as a result, many people are experiencing spirituality through the mind. This is OK. I truly view this as a step on the journey, but again like before, I wish to share an authentic message for those that are ready to hear it. Truly ask yourself what it means to be “spiritual” or “conscious” in your own definition. Then determine how much of it is a surface level, mind based or external expression of something vs how much is truly about your relationship with yourself INSIDE.
I took this direction in this article because whether we identify ourselves by our diet or by the trendiness of spirituality, we are often doing the same thing. Boxing ourselves and our consciousness.
So if you are a person that feels authentic in who you are and yet people don’t understand you because you don’t ‘fit the mold’ of what they might feel is vegan, spiritual, conscious etc, great! Your authenticity is all that matters. Truly exploring the deepest aspects of consciousness and spiritual evolution comes without labels or having to be a certain way. This is a meme I believe will become VERY popular in the coming years.
If you want to explore yourself and aspects of consciousness deeper and authentically, you can take CE’s 5 Days Of You Challenge here.