“Have you been eating raw garlic again?” She says I smell like garlic every day.
“I put a little in my shakes…” Confession: I put 2 or 3 entire raw cloves in my Almost Vegan Superfood Protein Smoothie every morning. And more in my Totally Vegan Breakfast Bowl Of Awesome. This ritual has been keeping me sane for months now. At a time when it’s seemed like everything is out of control, in my life, in the world, in the universe at large, finding a daily something that’s good for me and better for the environment, even if it’s just this one thing, is helping bring things back into balance.
I wasn’t always so fond of ritual – or eating right. Back in college, I might get out of bed any time from 6 AM to 2 PM. Sometimes I’d leave the house for the first time at 5 PM, just in time for wrong direction rush hour. The next day I might be seen in study hall at 8 in the morning. Consistency just wasn’t my bag.
And boy what a diet! When asked by a potential date what I’d eaten for breakfast, I responded (truthfully), “Two swiss roles, a jelly doughnut and a coke!” I was even proud of it! I thought this showed how invincible I was. She didn’t agree.
It goes without saying that I couldn’t have kept that up long. But it also says something about the life I was privileged enough to lead that I could bounce around so randomly, eat so crazily, eschew all sense of personal responsibility, and pretend to be superman – all the while being relatively assured that the world around me would remain the same. At any point, I could grab hold of that solid ground around me – society, business, culture – and I’d be right as rain.
Perhaps we all did that just a bit. And why not? After all the world can be so structured. School, work, family, sports, church – so many obligations. So many things conspiring to keep you hemmed in. There’s something to be said for riding the wave, going with the flow, letting life do what it will.
And then 2020 happened. Even if you’re reading this in 2030, you know what happened in 2020. Hemmed in took on a whole new meaning, as we took to our homes and stayed away from everyone and everything, waiting out a pandemic we had no idea would last all year – and beyond.
And in a cruel irony, while I felt trapped – more trapped than I could have anticipated – I simultaneously lost all sense of coherence. The world wasn’t just evolving – it had completely changed overnight. Nothing seemed in control. Nothing seemed predictable. We had a global virus – unequaled in scope and devastation for the past 100 years. We had fires – and not just in California – the Arctic, Siberia, Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina – the whole world seemed to be on fire.
If that weren’t enough, we had political and social unrest. Here in the U.S., we fought tooth and nail over civil rights, racial justice, voting rights, healthcare, guns, and of course climate change. Meanwhile, South Asian countries have faced unprecedented financial pressure, including rising unemployment rates, slowing national growth, and recession – not to mention political unrest in various countries including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Needless to say, that solid ground we’d relied upon – the structure that gave us freedom – it was gone.
For me, uncertainty was laid upon uncertainty as I moved into 2020. After six years of pristine health following life-saving double lung transplant surgery, I had unexpected issues. I was admitted to the hospital twice at the end of 2019 and found myself in almost constant communication with my medical team in 2020. I was even admitted once more in June. Not only was the world going mad with the pandemic and everything else, I was suddenly unsure if I’d even be around to see the end of it.
With everything going on and almost no way to influence any of it – I had to take control of something.
So, I took control of my diet. Luckily, I’m a certified personal trainer and I knew a fair amount about nutrition already. I dove into extra research and found out about anti-inflammatory foods, plant-based diets, Asian diets, Mediterranean diets, the works. I reached new levels of understanding about calories, macros, proteins. I learned more than I could explain about the benefits of plant-based eating – even when it’s not a full-on vegan commitment – including environmental benefits.
Armed with all this new knowledge, I designed my very own morning shake. As mentioned above, I call it the Almost Vegan Superfood Protein Smoothie, and yes it includes blueberries, garlic, and ginger. It also includes vegan protein powder, peanut butter, plain non-fat yogurt, spinach (or kale), and if one must – milk (or soy milk). The yogurt and optional milk are what makes it “almost” vegan.
It has everything I decided I’d need to help protect my health so I could celebrate the end of 2020 with everyone else. Does it taste great? Yes, I think so. But I would feel bad if I didn’t mention that I can’t smell. So, there’s your fair warning.
It’s not the shake itself, obviously. You’d have to be crazy to put raw garlic in a smoothie. It’s the ritual, the commitment to health, and the win-win of doing something that’s a little better for the world. The shake ritual has calmed me each morning, reminded me that I do have a say in how I feel, and that I can do something – even if it’s small – to help.
The shake led to the Totally Vegan Breakfast Bowl Of Awesome, which led to daily workouts again, which led to better sleep, which led to better coaching for my clients, which led to more income, which led to a few donations to environmental charities and food banks, which led to an overall better feeling about the world.
It led me back to meditation, to letting petty things go, to doing whatever I can to serve and see the greatness in people. I notice the good news again now and I finally feel as strong as I did in early 2019. I find myself impressed with all the creative ways people are coping, helping each other, and finding new ways to get things done.
It may sound nutty but for me the Almost Vegan Superfood Protein Smoothie was the key to staying sane while the world goes crazy. All of the insanity shall pass, but I think I’ll hang on to this.
(C) Aaron J. Trumm - All Rights Reserved