I watched a great video on You Tube the other day of Norah Jones singing one of my favourite songs – Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ at Steve Jobs’ memorial. Search it out after you’ve read this – it’s worth a view. As I listened to the lyrics, it got me thinking, and I had to admit to myself that this notion is at the very heart of my vegan journey.
Many will scoff and say that I am chasing an impossible dream, and in some respects they’d be absolutely right. On the other hand, if you stopped to think about it, most of us would be able to think of at least a couple of people who we describe as being ‘great for their age’. What is it about them that we admire? Generally I’ve found that the old adage of ‘growing old gracefully’ still sums it up rather well. We may not be able to stop our hair going grey and a few extra wrinkles from appearing over time, but there is a lot that we can do to make sure that we are able to ‘build our ladder to the stars and climb on every rung’.
It’s a simple concept – ‘you are what you eat’. The more I come to understand about the connection between food and health, the more profound that simple statement is. How easy the science of nutrition would become if we considered that advice every time we thought about eating something. For instance, I don’t think that many people would dispute that fruit and vegetables are good for us, and that a meat pie smothered in tomato sauce or a sticky donut is not so good. But what if an apple came with a guarantee of a couple of extra hours on the planet and the pie came with a guarantee of a couple less – which would you choose? Silly example maybe, but what I’m trying to say is that everything counts. There are only so many times we can say “just this once”, or “I’ll start eating better from tomorrow”. The cruel reality is that too many people simply run out of chances.
In today’s society so much importance is placed on having the right car, or the latest smart phone, or television set, or one of a host of other possessions and gadgets which in most cases, we treat with great reverence. We wouldn’t dream about putting the wrong gas in the car. Our bodies on the other hand, which we will never be able to replace with a newer or better model, are often somehow not treated as being deserving of the same attention.
In recent years there has been much discussion regarding ‘generic’ medicines, with many people insisting that these do not work, and refusing to take them as an alternative to the ‘real thing’. If only we cared as much about the food we choose to eat, what’s ‘real’, as opposed to what is more akin to confectionery. It seems that somewhere along the journey to this modern age we have forgotten that the reason we eat is to fuel our bodies so that they will serve us well. Instead, to many people food has become little more than another outlet for personal indulgence, and sadly this has now trickled down to another generation who are paying a high price even faster than their parents.
So, what is it that I want to achieve from my vegan lifestyle? Quite a lot, you’re probably thinking, maybe even too much? I would disagree; if youthfulness is one of my quests, I have no doubt that being forever young is as much about remaining upright and strong as it is about having a joyful heart. If we can live life according to the principles of what we believe to be true, and have the courage to defend that truth even when the winds of changes shift, we are indeed fortunate. I have never been more convinced about anything than I am about this: that a wholefoods plant-based diet is the panacea that we have all been searching for.
Reality dictates that no matter how hard we work at looking after ourselves well, none of us are guaranteed to be spared from illness, or from having our lives cut short. However, no matter how short or long, good health will always be a vital component of a happy life.
So back to Bob’s ‘Forever Young’: may the song always be sung. CARRIE STEELE