Tag Archives: vegan

Diet is the New Religion

Have you ever been having a conversation with someone, and it dawns on you half way through that you’re being preached to? Usually the person you’re talking to has no idea that you don’t share the same beliefs as them, and though you’re interested to hear what they have to say, you probably aren’t going to convert. It’s a strange situation, because you have to be polite, even if what they’re saying contradicts your own beliefs completely. You’d think I was talking about religion, or a pyramid scheme, or maybe yoga, but no, I’m talking about diets.

Obviously a diet isn’t just what you do to lose weight, it’s the food you take into your body everyday, everyone has one, and some people think about theirs a lot more than others. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced avid diet discussion, and maybe been guilty of it ourselves. You make a change in your life and it consumes so much of your time and thought that you don’t even realize you talk about it all the time.

Eating is life, without it we wouldn’t exist, but to humans, food is so much more than just nourishment, it’s our culture. How much of your life revolves around food? How many times a day do you think about it? If I look at a bag of potato chips (probably my greatest weakness) and a bag of carrots, my id and ego fight it out, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Who hasn’t had an ice cream binge on a day when you felt like the world was against you? There is nothing wrong with reaching for the carrots or the ice cream, but here’s the thing—it’s an individual choice and it’s not the same for everyone.

What could be more specified than what each person feeds themselves? I personally love olives, pickles, peanut butter, Nutella and mashed potatoes, but I’ve never been a big pasta person, mayonnaise makes me sick, and ricotta cheese does not agree with me. Do I know why I like or dislike any of those things? Of course not! If I could find a way to make my mind crave celery instead of chocolate I would be both skinny and rich, but that’s just not the way I’m wired. If it was easy to curb cravings, we wouldn’t have the very depressing statistic that 75% of dieters gain back the weight they lose. We’re all so individual, so remarkably and amazingly different, that there can be no miracle diet, no sweeping cure, and what I really think more than anything, is that we all need to stop obsessing.

This country is preoccupied with dieting, we can’t stop talking about it, or thinking about it, or judging our families or friends on it. We accept that obsession in other forms is completely unhealthy. We acknowledge that when someone spends so much time thinking, or fretting over one thing there is something truly wrong, but for some reason when it comes to food, it’s not only accepted it’s encouraged. We don’t step in until things have gotten out of control. Maybe the major cause of the so-called “obesity epidemic” is the focus on dieting. There have been many studies which show that taking the focus off dieting and emphasizing living and eating healthy (with room for forgiveness) actually has a greater benefit on people of all shapes and sizes—including overweight people. You know how when you were a teenager and your parents bugged you to clean your room, and the more they nagged you the less you actually wanted to do it? Yeah, it’s like that. We humans are a contrary bunch, and the more you keep telling us we need to lose weight, especially when that is WAY harder than cleaning your room, it really just makes us want to eat a cheeseburger or two.

Ok, so back to the whole diet is a religion thing; religion and diet have always been tied together. Most religions have some form of fasting, and many of them have dietary restrictions as well. There are Jews who keep kosher, Muslims who eat halal, there are Buddhists who try to prevent suffering by eating a vegetarian diet, and there are dozens of others as well. With religion on the decline in the US, it makes me wonder if part of the diet obsession is a need to fill some void. Diet is so practiced, so precise, so important to some people, that it takes on religious significance.

The other day my mom was telling me about a woman who was on a raw food diet, she told my mother that it has cured her son’s ADD and that she was sure it would prevent cancer as well. This woman truly believes the diet will save her, if that isn’t faith than I’m not sure what is. It’s worrisome, because while a devoutly religious person can’t know the truth for certain until they step out of this world, A person who stores their faith in the food they consume will suffer a crisis of faith when some unstoppable disease takes hold of their bodies. If that happens, they’ll have to suffer both the disappointment of years of healthy living, and the pain of illness, I’m not sure which is worse.

The idea that a diet can truly cure any disease has been proven false over and over, and yet people still tell my fiancé that he can cure his type 1 diabetes with a raw food diet, when in reality, going without his insulin for a day could land him in the hospital, or worse. Perpetuating the idea that you can not only diagnose, but cure someone of a medical condition by adjusting their diet (ahem Halle Berry) is just irresponsible and completely dangerous. I want so badly to cure him, and trust me I’d give anything to cure him, but I worry that there is less fact and more self-righteousness responsible for those who preach the wonders of certain diets.

The unfortunate, painful truth is that death is inevitable. I know that’s a total bummer, but it’s an absolute, I’ve struggled with it a lot, and I’ve found the easiest way to deal with it is to accept that it happens, and enjoy what you have. Even if you believe in an afterlife, you still know that you will pass out of this world one day. What worries me about the idea of the “messiah diet” is that it’s not about comforting that morbid knowledge, it’s about buying into a futile hope, and in some cases looking down on others who don’t buy in to it.

I’m all about living life, I have a firm belief that this life is meant to be celebrated, there is so much heartache, so much regret and loss, why do we put more on the pile voluntarily? If eating raw, or vegan, or caveman, or macrobiotic makes you feel great, and you love it, I could not be happier for you, and I wish I felt that way about one particular way of eating too. When your diet turns divine however, when you believe truly that it’s your savior, I can’t help but find that a bit unsettling, because while the belief in god or in religion brings comfort in a time of pain, putting faith in what you eat to stave off the certainty of aging, seems like a comforting delusion that I’d hate to see disappoint.

This post in no way is meant to insult, belittle, or devalue any type of diet, so please forgive me if I have offended. It’s just a discussion, and I’d love to hear some thoughts on it.



Filed under acceptance, health

Live a Lush Life

Have you heard of Lush? I’m assuming most of you have, it’s been around for a while, but if you haven’t heard of it you should. Let me tell you why.

Firstly I want to say I think more advertising should be done by people who genuinely like the products and are happy to promote them. I’m not saying companies should ask anyone to do this for free (although I’m about to do that right now), but if you can’t find people to promote your product who really like it and use it, then maybe it’s time to change the product.

Lush seems to understand this, they put out a great newspaper called Lush Times every season with new products and tons of reviews by real people who love the brand and are happy to talk about the products they use. They share their stories and pictures and It feels both authentic and fun, two things not seen too often in normal cosmetics promotions.

In the cosmetics world, Lush is a very unique brand. Although they don’t sell makeup, they do sell lip balms, hair products, and perfumes as well as bath products. It’s all organic and natural (like actually totally, not just labeled that way to appear “green”), has quite a selection of vegan items, and they make products that do amazing things while smelling absolutely delicious without the addition of chemicals. They also tell you exactly what is in the products they’re selling you, wild idea right?

It’s  nice that Lush doesn’t use model or celebrity endorsements or feature them in their ads, in fact they don’t seem to advertise much at all from what I can tell. They seem to function mainly on word of mouth and getting people into the stores—and it should be a lesson to other companies that if you make a good product, you don’t need to spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns.

One way that Lush cuts down on the cost of their products is by making their packaging from recycled plastic. Sometimes it’s a little wonky, but for the cost and the green factor it’s worth it. So often with cosmetics 75% of the cost goes into the packaging, so I’d rather get more product for the price anyway, although I can be a sucker for good packaging. Some of their products don’t use packaging at all, like their bath bombs.

My sister and I first stumbled on Lush when we were visiting family in Ireland in 2002, we took a day trip to Dublin and the most fun we had the whole day, aside from Dublinia! an interactive exhibit for children in the basement of Christ Church, which we played in like we were four-year olds, was discovering Lush (we made the mistake of going on a day when all the museums were closed). We could literally smell Lush from down the street, and wandered into the shop mesmerized by the colorful products and friendly staff. I think our Irish relatives thought we were crazy when we came home that night, each with a big bag of bath bombs and bubble bars, but it was exciting, we had never seen cosmetics sold in such a way before.

When we arrived home in New York, our whole suitcases, all our clothes, everything, was filled with the beautiful aroma. From then on, every time someone was going overseas we begged them to get us some Lush—I’m sure this was incredibly annoying, but we couldn’t get it in the states, so what could we do but beg? Finally after several years they opened stores across the U.S., unfortunately they don’t produce products in the states so they have to import them from Canada which drives the prices up a bit, but the cost still doesn’t touch what other cosmetics brands charge, so it’s worth it.

I’m going to run-through some of my favorite products, and if any of them appeal to you I hope you’ll check them out!

if you haven’t discovered Lush yet, or even if you have, you can find a store near you here. And if there isn’t one near you, they’re opening new shops all the time.

Let’s start with a soap that is great if you like your products earthy, scrubby, and delicious smelling. If you don’t like little bits of leaves in your soap you might not like it, but if you don’t mind bringing some nature into your shower you’ll love it.

Also a note on Lush soaps, at the stores you can get them cut into any size for you, so if you only want say a $5 piece to try, just ask them. Isn’t that nice?

Figs and Leaves Soap,$7.60 for 3.5 oz.

This is my favorite moisturizer, and it’s so much less expensive than a lot of department store creams. It smells like vanilla and cream and it is specifically made for sensitive skin which is great for me, also a little goes a very long way.

Celestial face moisturizer, $22.95 for 1.5 oz.

I’m very upset that I no longer have a bathtub because it means I can’t use Lush bubble bars anymore. I love bubble baths, and these bars create so many bubbles and leave your skin so smooth and sweet-smelling it’s perfect for the end of a stressful day. You can cut one bar up into pieces and save them so it lasts longer too, because they really do produce a lot of bubbles.

Creamy Candy Bubble Bar, $7.25 for a 3.5 oz. bar

Probably my all time favorite Lush product. If I could afford it I would put this on my hair every week. It’s one of the products my sister and I were completely hooked on as soon as we discovered Lush. It’s a hair mask, you put it on your dry hair (you need to saturate your head, I usually end up using half the container on my hair) and then leave it on for 15 minutes, or put on a shower cap to keep in the heat, and leave it on for hours. After you wash the treatment out you’re left with shiny, lovely, amazing, spicy scented hair. I love it, but I love most things that smell spicy, so if you do too, you will definitely love this. Your hair will smell like a spice market in some beautiful far-off eastern country, yum.

H’Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment, $18.95 for 7.9 oz.

Do you like Almonds? I love almonds, I love marzipan, I love the smell of almonds, I love almond milk, and I adore this soap. The only downside is that it is so creamy it melts away fairly fast, but it leaves your skin smelling heavenly, so it’s worth it.

Alkmaar soap, $7.95 for 3.5 oz.

Since I can’t take baths anymore, I have re-discovered shower gels, and this is one of my favorites. It’s great if you shower in the morning and have trouble waking up because it has a bright, cirtus-y scent that gives you instant pep for the day.

Happy Hippy, $26.95 for 16.9 oz.

I’m a little obsessed with body powders. Especially in the summer, I cover myself in powder every-time I get out of the shower, the cloud of dust scares both my cats and my fiancé, but I wouldn’t stop it for the world. If you don’t powder I highly suggest it, I love that in yoga class once I start to sweat, instead of smelling gross, the people around me are treated to a gorgeous vanilla aroma, lucky them. I love Lush’s Silky Underwear, but I just bought this new scent and it’s making for some serious competition.

Vanilla Puff Powder, $11.95 for 3.5 oz.

I did a whole post about shampoo because I’ve been questioning my whole hair care procedure recently. So I went back and tried Lush shampoo bars again, and now I can’t remember why I ever stopped using them to begin with! They can get a little crumbly in the shower once you get near the end of them, but no more so than a bar of soap. It is amazing how much lather these things produce, I mean seriously, I had enough lather on my head for three more people, and like everything Lush, they smell spectacular (except for the soak and float bar which is for dandruff, and kind of stinky, but supposedly effective).

Karma Komba, 9.95 for 1.9 oz.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bath tub, you should definitely try one of Lush’s bath bombs. I love the Butterball which smells (obviously) buttery and creamy and has little pieces of coca butter that melt into your skin, ugh, it’s so good.

When you go into a Lush shop they will give you a bath bomb demonstration, that way you can see how it fizzes and buzzes around your bath tub, sometimes changing the water colors, or releasing sparkles, but always smelling amazing.

The next time you’re feeling romantic, or sharing a bath with someone else, I recommend trying out this bomb. It releases a whole jumble of flower petals into your bath, as well as the incredible smell of roses and lavender. You may have to clean the petals out of your drain, but who doesn’t want to bathe in rose petals?

I like to buy bath bombs (or bubble bars) just to keep them in my drawers, they make all my clothes smell incredible.

Softy, $6.25 for 6.3 oz.

Anyone else have some Lush product recommendations? I’m sure I could go on forever because I’ve sampled most of their products, so feel free to ask questions too! Happy bathing!


Filed under cosmetics, shopping