Driving to work one morning on the M6, then WSET Advanced Certificate student Rashida Veronique Serrant turned a corner - literally and figuratively! As she rounded a bend in the roadway on the South Island of New Zealand to enter Gibbston Valley and laid eyes on the sun-drenched vineyards of Chard Farm Winery on the other side of the Kawarau River gorge, Rashida knew what she wanted to do with her professional life.
Fast forward 15 years, through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma program (hence the DWS), opening and closing wineLIFE Wine Shop, and experience in wholesale, retail and sommelier work with wine, Rashida shifted gears and launched Really Nourish Movement, through which she educates about food and advocates for food empowerment for all.
The first step she took on her way to her current, excellent state of health and the beginning of Really Nourish was to listen to God and feed herself a lot less sugar and refined starch. Her motivation: Donating a kidney to her father. It was not an Atkins thing, if that’s what you’re thinking. She still ate carbs, just what she had learned to be better ones. She continued to indulge in animal products, did not reduce her fat intake on purpose, but reduced her intake of free sugars to less than 25g a day.
During that first month, it was like weaning off of hard drugs! She had headaches from time to time and often found herself to be quite cranky. Eventually, as her body grew accustomed to the change, she achieved two consecutive days with no free sugars at all – no juice, no sugar sweetened foods or beverages. She was already off of refined starches. She very rapidly lost exactly 20 lbs by the end of those 30 days.
Her theory is that much of that was inflammation in my body. Much of the excess weight that people carry is indeed inflammation, and excess amounts of sugar are known to contribute to that. Nonetheless, as we also are learning, sugar is not the lone culprit in the obesity and metabolic disease epidemic. Rashida witnessed this for herself. After losing that 20, going down from 212 lbs to 192 lbs, she hit a plateau. All summer long she stayed at that pesky 192. She did yoga and Pilates almost daily and never went back to my normal American high sugar, high refined starch, processed food diet. But still, Rashida's 192 lbs remained steadfast.
Then, in October of that year, with some encouragement from the Lord, the documentary Cowspiracy and Chronixx, Rashida decided to give up all things carnivorous. That’s when the 192 started to tick downward again. By the the following March, she was 160. She was ready now to donate her kidney to her dad. More than a year later, I am 155 at the start of the pregnancy that will bring forth my third child by the grace of God.
He’s in Dominica. That was the goal. He could have been stuck in New York City, there doing nothing but counting hours between dialysis treatments. He’s in Dominica, talking about flying over to England for a while before visiting New York, free to travel in his senior years and live in his beautiful house on our family estate.
In honor of my dad’s 2 post surgery birthday, I’m re-releasing the book #DonorLife, because I just need to share my story with you. You can now download it on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited. I’m giving it out for free on August 19, 2018. In return, please write me a review and share it with your networks.
Let me preface this by assuring you that this is NOT a complaint. I decided to write “Weight Loss Programs Should Offer a Free Pair of Pants for When You Get Skinny” because going from the obese BMI category to the normal one is a goal that many people have but nobody prepares for. I certainly did not.
Yesterday, I went onto Reddit and searched “weight loss”, looking for a subreddit where I could put up a post to inform people about the launch of Food Life Evolution. I saw a list of posts. One said something like “Weight Loss Programs Should Offer A Free Pair of Pants for When You Get Skinny”.
I was like “I know, right???”
Truth is, I had it in my head that some of the clothes I bought when I was just starting my
evolution would just fit or wear better on my future normal-sized body. In 2016, when I was down to around 192 lbs, I bought this fabulous pair of pants at Bebe. Just having lost my first 20 pounds, I was excited just to be able to shop there, because they don’t sell anything bigger than a size 12. I bought the pants in a 12.
I tried to wear them this year, 2018, on Mother’s Day. I spent most of the church service trying to stop them from falling off my waist! Soon after, I gave those and a few more bagfuls of great clothing away.
What did I have left? Very. Few. Garments.
Indeed, weight loss programs should offer a free pair of pants for when you get skinny. If nothing else, we need the first pair so we can have something to wear when we go shopping for more!
Living in New York, I had been in the habit of going clothing shopping every month, but when I did, it was just to pick up a couple of items at a time. Never in my life have I had to replenish an entire wardrobe! Just as I was writing that, I thought about my mother’s plight every time I had a growth spurt as a child. My feet even got slimmer, so I need to go try on shoes and figure out what size to buy!
As you evolve, prepare for your future body by buying new clothes for your future self bit by bit. Even if they don’t fit now, just buy them. If you’re serious about your evolution, trust me, you will need them in time!
How am I handling this problem?
Sadly, clothing shopping monthly is not an option for me in Trinidad. Somehow they end up with the worst quality apparel here, and I am still learning my way around. Nonetheless, in this fast fashion world I’m blessed to receive free new clothes from the US for my new body size from a friend who has a clothing retail shop, so at least I’m not walking around in my birthday suit!
Nonetheless, the time has come for me to shop and buy a whole new wardrobe. So I googled ethical clothing, went to some sites and started loading virtual shopping baskets and carts with my best picks! I took the best of those from Reformation, Irregular Choice, GUNAS NY, Stella McCartney, Pact and Siizu and made a vision board sheet in PowerPoint. I even covered some of the model’s faces with my own and added new jewelry pieces.
My other option is custom made. I’m determined to learn how to sew, and I’m also learning about local designers who make beautiful clothes.
I am 145 lbs 5 months after having my third baby, with perfect blood pressure and blood sugar readings at every clinic visit. Needless to say I am enjoying my best body ever immensely! Looking forward to more new clothes and more photos of me in my new, slim empress wardrobe!
Disclaimer: Food Life Evolution™ is not just a weight loss program and we don’t currently offer a free pair of pants for when you get skinny, but as a result of this program, you will live the rest of your life in your BEST BODY EVER! We may add the pants to future incarnations of our seminar series, but if you do our first series, you will be able to say
Growing up as a first-generation “Yankee” in a West-Indian family in the 1980’s was not always nice. There were some customs that still endure in Caribbean culture that we really need to do away with. The elders still do it a lot. I think these days, those of us still living in America have assimilated into the cultural shift that happened sometime in the 1990’s.
I’m referring to the one where we are so careful not to body shame our girls.
But that didn’t happen until I was in my teens. As a tween, body shaming was very normal.
The perpetrators:mothers, aunties and grannies who thought they were being helpful by blatantly pointing out what was wrong with your body and making sure you felt bad enough about it to want to change it.
The victim in question: 8-year-old Rashida, a cute, chubby third grader who’s kinky hair wouldn’t grow long, with a complexion a shade too dark to be “pretty”. (Light skinned girls with “good hair” were in style at the time.)
Mom and my aunt, both of whom were overweight and obese themselves respectively (with all due respect) would pinch an inch of my side fat and say “if you would just lose a little weight you would be so pretty!” and other such uplifting statements. There I was, having a secret crush on Kirk Cameron, knowing I was too fat and ugly for him to ever feel the same about me.
“if you would just lose a little weight you would be so pretty!” and other such uplifting statements.
Fast forward 10 years. Cocoa skin was finally in, and fat became PHAT. I was still a size 14 in my jeans, but that was no longer chubby – it was thick, curvaceous, sexy! During that time frame, I got my first tastes of favorable attention from boys and men. It was just the medication I needed. By age 18, I was hooked and always looking for that fix.
I was an addict for another 17 years. Like a crack head, I did things that I’m not at all proud of for my drug. If a man didn’t seem to notice me, I made certain he did. That validation was all I had to convince myself of my own value.
Sadly, my stock was declining in the process…
Then I met Nicholas. One day, we were talking, and he was giving me a kind ear while I explained a problem I was having. He put me on hold to check his church notes – I was astonished and intrigued by the very idea of taking notes in church – because what I was saying triggered a memory of the message he had gotten that morning. I don’t remember the details of that conversation at all, but I do remember that his notes, God’s word, helped me in some way that evening.
It would be a few more months before I went to church again for the first time in many years, but on a chilly Wednesday night in November, I met Nicholas and we went together to his church in Brooklyn. The messages, not just that night but also in the few weeks prior, that God was sending me were about the validation He wants to give me.
Rashida is the apple of God’s eye.
Rashida is wonderfully made. (I didn’t understand the “fearfully” part until later)
Rashida is His workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece!
At that moment, I suddenly stopped feeling that need for validation from men of this world. All I needed was Jesus Christ.
I answered altar call, that is, the pastor invited anyone who did not have Jesus in their life to the altar and I stepped up. I was raised Catholic, with all the childhood sacraments under my belt, but I had never appropriated the gift of eternal life before that night.
The messages, not just that night but also in the few weeks prior, that God was sending me were about the validation He wants to give me.
Since that night, my life has changed dramatically. Not only do I no longer seek validation from men, but I encourage other women around me also. My heart is moved by girls and young women who remind me of how I was. God draws them near to me and I do all I can to fill them up so they never feel as empty as I once did.
God is using me in so many wonderful ways as I get deeper in my relationship with Him and give my life over to Him more and more. I’m honored that He entrusts me with this ministry and the many lives that it touches. I’m humbled by the trust He puts in me!
The best part is knowing that I have eternal life. With that kind of certainty, even the prospect of possibly dying during an organ donation surgery couldn’t phase me. I was able to bless someone I love dearly without fear or hesitation because my trust is in Jesus Christ!
Now let me ask you these two questions:
Have you come to a place in your spiritual life that, if you were to die today, you would go to heaven? Or is that something you’d say you’re still working on?
If you were to die today, and God was to ask you “Why should I let you into My heaven?”, how would you answer?
Please allow me to share my faith with you now:
If you have accepted The Gift, please connect with me so we can fellowship. Whatsapp me at 868-792-5408 right now.
Growing up as a first-generation American child in an immigrant family, I heard lots of idealized reminiscing about “back home”. To hear them tell it, the Caribbean was a magical unicorn-filled wonderland where everything from the food to the freedom was
To hear them tell it, the Caribbean was a magical unicorn-filled wonderland where everything from the food to the freedom was perfect. It never occurred to me to ask them why, then, did they leave it to come to Brooklyn, New York.
perfect. It never occurred to me to ask them why, then, did they leave it to come to Brooklyn, New York. Nonetheless, notions of greener grass and cleaner food lodged in my subconscious and followed me through my move to Trinidad and Tobago, my husband’s native land. Imagine my shock when I discovered how problematic food import dependency is here. At least 70% of what Trinidadians eat comes from outside of the country!
To be fair, my family left the Commonwealth of Dominica in the mid 1980’s. The country was still far behind Trinidad & Tobago in terms of its entrenchment in the global food system. Food and life was perhaps still “natural”, what we now call “organic”. Dominica was also still rather underdeveloped, so much of the land was being cultivated to a wide array of local crops to feed a very small population. Indeed, perhaps there were even unicorns and magic!
Fast forward to late December 2013, my first trip to Trinidad. I found here supermarkets very much like the ones I left in the US stocked with just as much of the pseudo-variety of wheat, corn and soy incarnations with a sad produce section. All these symptoms of heavy food import dependency left me feeling somewhat dejected. Really tho? Did it never cross anyone’s mind here that who controls the food controls the country?
Did it never cross anyone’s mind here that who controls the food controls the country?
Greenmarkets were an even bigger disappointment than the groceries. Instead of the rich panoply of diverse colors, shapes and flavors I looked forward to seeing, I found a similar uniformity to the supermarket. Vegetable vendors have all the same basic inventory. Import fruit and Chinese onions and garlic abound.
Now I started to reminisce idealistically about my New York City farmers’ markets, where I could find a beautiful selection of locally grown heirloom tomatoes, organic foods of all kinds at Whole Foods, and have fresh groceries delivered to my door.
A Wheat Boycott to Call Attention to Food Import Dependency
Not that I wasn’t subject to the Global Food Regime, but I lived in the perpetrating country. Living in the victimized country that Trinidad and Tobago is has affected me in a deep way. Consistently I consider the implications of relying so heavily on other countries for the very food we eat. This deeply concerns me. I will highlight some of these in the coming weeks.
So on Monday, 11th June, 2018 I started a one woman boycott of wheat. I chose to boycott wheat for a number of reasons. Wheat is Trinidad’s top imported food item. The US being this country’s biggest trade partner implicates that the wheat we eat comes from over-subsidized midwestern wheat fields. Those farms, with their GMO seed, heavy chemical warfare regime and degerminated finished product, flood the world with nutrient poor, poison rich product. They are unwittingly sickening the world’s people.
The other reason I chose wheat is because I knew it would be an extremely challenging thing to abstain from. Almost every meal in Trinidad calls for wheat of some kind, from pies, bakes and doubles at breakfast, roti skins and macaroni at lunch, to dumplings and bread at dinnertime and all great snacks – digestive biscuits, khurma, pholourie – you can have in between. Here is food import dependency at its best: a non-native ingredient masquerading as a native staple. And all of it is SO DELICIOUS! It’s never wise to make generalizations, but Trinidadians can cook! Honestly, I haven’t had a bad meal in this country yet.
Here is food import dependency at its best: a non-native ingredient masquerading as a native staple.
Discussing Food Import Dependency in Trinidad &Tobago: More to Come
I am looking forward to giving talks about this around this country, so this is my first act towards helping to determine solutions to this problem of food import dependency in Trinidad and Tobago.
Here’s my boycott launch video. Enjoy!
What are your thoughts? Even if you’re not from or in Trinidad, please share. The Global Food Regime affects us all one way or another!
Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question by A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi – Read my book review
In continuation of a biblical case for veganism, I choose now to focus on water, which is a birthright given by God that shows up in scripture in several contexts:
1. A vital component of God’s consistent provision in our lives
2. A metaphoric reference to His power and His reliability and, at times, His power as it abides in us
3. His way of cleansing us and nourishing us to flourish
We will look at how veganism is an indirect way of exercising better stewardship over this vital resource. Before we do that, let us first examine some scriptures that illustrate what I’ve stated above: Water is YOUR God Given Birthright
Before we continue with A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3, please accept our invitation to join the growing movement for Food Sovereignty. Sign up right here!
Now, as I was saying:
In Genesis 2:5-6, even before God created man and made him Commissioner of Eden Gardens, He watered the land in preparation for the garden and Adam.
God Consistently Provides Water
Even after the Fall of Man, although we are subjected to several consequences for our disobedience, we were never expected to live without water. When the Children of Israel are wandering through the desert, He responded to their complaints of thirst by turning brackish water into clean, refreshing water for them to drink.
Water as a Reference to God’s Power
He caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights straight in Genesis 7 – this is also a reference to cleansing, His main intent for the Great Flood. The waters remained for 150 days and didn’t recede until God decided the time was right.
Water as a Reference to God’s Power as it Abides in us
The Prophet Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
Elijah gave that word later in 1 Kings 18:41
Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” (NKJV)
We know from James 5:17 that on Elijah’s word, through his prayer, there was no rain for 3 1/2 years.
Water as a Reference to God’s Reliability
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Water as His vehicle for cleansing us and causing us to flourish
In the first verses of the first poem in the book of Psalms, the psalmist lays out the characteristics of those who would be “blessed”, or happy. In verse 3, happiness is likened to being a tree planted by rivers of water that bears fruit in abundance and whose leaf never withers.
Indeed, Jesus gives the living water, as offered to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.
So here’s the Million Dollar Question:Exactly what does your consumption of animal-based foods have to do with water? Answer:It’s another case of poor stewardship over an extremely precious God-given resource.
In Chapter 2 of Securing Our Birthright (entitled “Menu Expansion: When God Condoned Carnivory, Man Went H.A.M. – Hard as a Moabite), we examine this issue. With the permission of the producers of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, I list an alarming set of data regarding the impacts of modern livestock agriculture on Air, Water, Land and Mankind.
Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all drinkable water consumption in the world today.
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound (16 oz, two normal 8oz steaks) of beef.
477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs (that’s between 8 and a dozen, depending on the size of the eggs); almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.
According to Charity: Water, 63 million people live without clean water.
They suffer from a wide range of preventable diseases because the only water they have access to for cooking for and bathing themselves and their children and washing the family’s clothes is dirty. Also, often their water source, as poor as the quality is, is a long walk from where they live.
Women and girls are responsible for carrying water in some societies.To do this time-consuming, heavy work for their families, some girls cannot even go to school on a consistent basis.
Just to be clear, Big Ag does not just exist in the United States. There are large CAFO livestock farms all over the world and some of the countries they are in have the biggest water problems.
Also, to be clear, the people in the demographic who live without clean water are highly likely to be people who are too poor to be consumers of animal-based foods. It’s only the wealthiest 30% of the world population who eats flesh, eggs and cheese and drinks milk. The rest are vegan by default.
(Which begs the question: Why do people think it’s more expensive to go vegan, when meat is the most expensive item in the grocery store? But I digress…)
I like math. Let’s do some, shall we?
The World Health Organization estimates that in a crisis, where water supplies that previously existed are compromised, people would need a minimum of 7.5 liters of water a day to meet basic needs. Figuring we are supposed to be drinking around 2 liters a day (that’s a bit more than the 8 x 8oz glasses we probably don’t all drink like we should) that means the other 5.5 liters are for cooking and washing. On the other hand, in the developed world where water is available 24 hours a day, everylittledrop.co.au says that we use an average of around 100 liters a day. This includes flushing toilets and less conservative cleaning and washing.
Figuring 100 liters a day = around 40 gallons, that means that:
Your steak dinner could have supplied 31 people with clean, reliable water they could confidently drink and use for cooking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes and flushing toilets.
Your dozen eggs could have supplied almost 11 people.
Your gallon of milk could have supplied 25 people.
But instead, it supplied ONE person. ONE household. Indeed, it supplied them with “food” that causes them more harm to their health than nutrition. It did so at the expense of many other members of the human family who live in deprivation.
In a world where 63 million are living without clean water, and millions of others have it but inconsistently, and still others, even in the great United States of America, have to choose between drinking contaminated water from their taps or spending money they could use for food to buy clean, bottled water, this is an abuse of God’s provision.
How Much Less water do Vegans Consume?
In contrast, how much water does it take to grow plants? According to a Huffington Post article from 2014 (updated in 2017):
(all of the following are expressed as gallons of water per pound of the food item)
Tofu (Soybean Curd) 302 (feeds 3-4 people)
Lentils 704 (makes 3-4 meals for a family of 4)
Rice 299 (3-4 meals for a family of 4)
Oats 290 (3-4 breakfasts for a family of 4)
The real value of the exchange here is a lot less water for a lot more nutrition. These are the foods that keep the temple in the best condition. This, in addition to the low impact they have on the world’s water supply allow for, once again, better stewardship of the temple and the planet.
Here are a couple of other quotes from the Cowspiracy website pertaining to water:
“Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.”
“The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways.”
Again, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Again, I ask you, does being a consumer in this system glorify God? Does using the increase the God blessed you with to reward the industry that is robbing your fellow man of his birthright?
Where do you stand on this issue? Drop a comment below while you’re here.
Also, please click here to learn more about how Really Nourish is helping those in need of clean water.
Thank you for reading and sharing this! God bless you!