I updated my “About the Runner” section a few weeks ago by adding that I am a vegetarian. As I mention in that section, I really don’t think being a vegetarian is a defining part of my personality. However, it does present some dietary challenges as a runner. So, I decided that every Friday, I’m going to post a really good vegetarian recipe that even your average “meat and potatoes” type of guy or gal will enjoy.
Soon after I decided to become a vegetarian, I leaned that there are different degrees of vegetarianism/veganism. However, I don’t seem to completely fit into any of these categories. I guess that would be because I became a vegetarian for (what some might consider) “out of the box reasons”.
My running/ healthier life style journey started for me last Thanksgiving. Everyone else in the family was either working, or not going to be in the household for the holiday. So, that left me alone in the kitchen wrestling with this turkey. I had remembered that I found the Dali Lama’s The Art of Happiness audiobook for free on YouTube the night before. I had only listened to the first and second chapters before heading off to bed. Then, was as good a time as any to keep listening.
What really struck me was how plainly he talked. You don’t need a pundit to figure out what the man is trying to say. At this point I have almost half of my forearm into the rear end of this turkey when he got to the really important part of the book, where he discusses how to create your own happiness. He took an approach to this concept that I don’t think many people (at least in Western culture) believe is conducive to happiness. But it certainly worked for me, as it has for many others.
The Dali Lama talked about how creating your own form of discipline can create a certain amount of fulfillment in the daily routine of life. For me, school, work, the military, as well as my own family has always been the motivating factors for me to perform. These institutions require that we be on time, look and dress a certain way and perform different talks efficiently. The military even requires service members to maintain a certain level of physical fitness and to not use illegal substances. So, how does someone create their own brand of discipline?
His Holiness then states how doing self destructive things like drinking and smoking are ultimately signs of unhappiness. Here was when I took my elbow to push pause on my IPad. I just looked at his picture incredulously and said,”Well, no s*** your holiness, thanks for stating the obvious.” That’s when I took a look at my own life and realized how unhappy I was within myself. I pushed play and continued to listen.
He suggests to his listeners/readers to try to stop self-destructive behaviors if only for a little while. Again, I pushed the pause button on the IPad and said, “Very well your Holiness… I will indulge in your crazy ideas for a month… just to see how this pans out.” I decided to also add in the challenge of being a vegetarian, just for kicks. After dinner was served, I announced to my family that this would be the last time I was going to eat meat. I’m sure they were thinking,”Ok… how long is this going to last…”
Ultimately, running has also kept my eating and consumption habits in check. You just cant survive the physical demands of running long distances if you eat poorly, and/or smoke and drink regularly. I suppose that some people could. I’m just not one of them. So, perhaps one healthy decision just led to another. I think that me listening to the Dali Lama really helped push me to make it more of a conscious life decision. I also looked into how cruelly animals are treated before they land on our plates and decided that I cannot morally stand by and support this practice. Of course, animal cruelty is not the main reason of why I stopped eating meat, but it is certainly part of it.