This year for Christmas, I had a few odd requests for our families. For our stockings, no candy or sugary treats. For gifts, nothing scented – no candles, lotions, or soaps. We have slowly been switching to healthier foods and products over the past several months. I didn’t want our families to waste any money on gifts we wouldn’t be able to use.
I wanted to write a post on why I’ve started pursuing healthier living and explain my thought process behind it. Natural, holistic, organic, healthy — these are all very trendy words right now. It can be confusing to figure out what is good and what is bad, who to trust and who to ignore. I used to mock the people who shopped exclusively at places like Whole Foods, mostly because their prices seemed so outrageous. I thought people who bought expensive food were snobby, upper middle class, and ridiculous. (Many of them from back where I am from still are, haha). But I know better now.
After watching documentaries, reading a lot of articles, watching videos online, and doing a lot of research, I have learned some of the deeper reasons why people change their lifestyles and why it’s a good thing. They have become my own reasons for changing the way I live and the products I invest in.
This journey for me has been a change in priorities. What is more important to me — buying the cheapest products possible to save money or buying products that I can trust will not harm my health? What is more important to me — purchasing cheaper products from companies that practice cruel animal testing or purchasing slightly more expensive products from companies who have ethical standards? What is more important to me — buying products easily available on any drugstore or big box store or occasionally shopping online for products not carried in stores? What is more important for me — to buy cheap meat from Walmart or to buy ethically raised meat from Whole Foods?
It’s a matter of priorities. I have decided to prioritize my shopping based on quality products that will benefit my health and not only the financial cost. Which brings me to my next point…
You Either Pay Now or Pay Later
Most of the critique of living a healthier lifestyle comes down to the money (like everything else in life). I know that used to be my main critique. But I am a firm believer in the reality that “you get what you pay for.”
Buying cheap meat? You’re consuming unnecessary antibiotics, not to mention supporting inhumane practices for raising, feeding, and killing these animals.
Buying conventional produce? You’re eating pesticides and supporting some companies who don’t take good care of their employees who harvest.
Buying cheap (and even expensive name brand) shampoo and conditioner? You’re exposing yourself to toxic chemicals daily.
These are not my personal opinions, they are facts. The question is – what will we do with this information? What choices will we make?
You can buy quality products now and have a healthier body. Or you can buy cheap products and deal with health problems immediately, chronically, or down the road.
Do you have acne? Chronic digestive issues? Aches and pains? Dry skin? Chronic illness or disease? Struggle to maintain a healthy weight? Some of that could be related to other things besides your diet, but a lot of it is directly related to what you put in and on your body. I don’t think we have a high enough standard for ourselves. We all deal with little issues every day and don’t take a minute to step back and realize the bigger picture. If you notice you get bloated every time you eat something, why don’t you stop eating it? For me, that’s pasta. If you notice you get a headache at a certain time every day, why don’t you figure out why instead of just popping a Tylenol?
Not everything that is good for you has to be expensive. Not everything that is bad for you is always cheap. Not all conventional farmers are evil, and not every organic farmer is a shining saint. I am making general statements here that are true most of the time. And I still buy some meat from Walmart and mostly conventional produce for now. I’m in the process of learning about all of this myself. It’s a journey and I’m just beginning. And currently our budget only stretches so far!
The Ethics of It
I am a very tender hearted person. I have been scarred by a few extreme documentaries I have seen on how animals are raised and slaughtered in our country. I say “scarred” because I will never forget what I have seen — but anyone who grew up on a farm would probably not feel so shocked by it. The cycle of life and death is natural to the agricultural community. But most of us grew up thinking chickens came in little plastic containers. I do not believe we should all abstain from meat or never slaughter an animal. But I do think they’re part of our world and we have a responsibility and a mandate to treat them with respect, to raise them as close to their natural habitat as possible, and to slaughter them humanely.
Then I see tomato farmers living in poverty, working long days to make ends meet, and ending up in debt to their employer. All because companies like Walmart refuses to raise the price of tomatoes a few pennies to give the harvesters a living wage.
Farmers who used to raise animals in a more natural environment have felt forced into adopting new, less humane techniques over time to raise, feed, and slaughter because the big companies have bought them out and now they’re in debt way over their head.
Our country demands a huge volume of food, especially meat, and wastes so much. It grieves me to see what we’re doing to our animals, our planet, and our future.
A New Lifestyle
I can’t change all of that overnight, though I sincerely wish I could. But when I say “no thank you” to the brownie you’re offering me, it’s not because I don’t love you – it’s because it will give me a headache. And when I ask our families to give us other gifts besides scented products, it’s not because I’m trying to be high maintenance — it’s because I don’t want to support companies who practice animal testing. I am not making these choices to make others feel uncomfortable, though I hope anyone in my life starts to think twice about the choices they’re making. I do it because of deeper reasons.