Story Of Octavian

Hi everyone! My name is Octavian. I love making chai and vegan recipes, and am a part of the team here at ommate’ alongside Sukey who created the blend.

I enjoy sharing all of the marvels it has brought into my life over the past year, which you can learn about by scrolling down to “My Chai Story.”

Veganism is also a big part of my life, which I transitioned into over the past two years, starting as a pescatarian, moving onto to being vegetarian, and then finally, a few months ago, I made the leap to veganism.

With the combination of my meditations and yoga, I am convinced that veganism is more than a diet. It is a way of living in harmony with other beings, the way we were meant to. I was born in Romania and identify as a Native of the earth. For me, there is no difference between different people across the world as we are all natives, we are all one. This is known as “Ubuntu.”

This year I am going to run a sub 5:30 mile (my PR is 5:32 twice last year), I am going to publish a book with 42 lessons I’ve learned in my 21 years of living, and I am also going to run a marathon.

If there’s anything I can ever help you with, whether it’s support with vegan transitioning, writing a book, beginning yoga or meditation, or anything else, don’t be shy! I’m always happy to share what I know.

Feel free to reach out on @drinkommate to connect. I can also be reached via [email protected].

My Vegan Story

Two years ago I had a pescetarian partner, and we watched “Cowspiracy.” I became pescetarian overnight, with no desire to eat meat again. In my first year, I ate meat about a dozen times, mostly on accident. One time I had a serving of beef, because I wanted to see if I was lying to myself about not wanting to put meat into my body, and the next day at work I threw up into a trash can. I was extremely weak and unable to think clearly.

Since then, others have offered me meat and I have eaten small amounts in disgust. Not because of any reasons other than that my body responds negatively to it, and it’s disgusting to eat something that I know my body hates. I don’t remember the last time I ate meat on purpose. It must have been in early 2017, in amounts of less than .25 of a gram.

Last year, during the summer, my pescetarian meditation/yoga friend mentioned that fish is like all other beings and that they will stop eating it. I made a mental note to stop eating it as long as they do, as a challenge of sorts. Two months later we were at a Sushi restaurant and they ordered Kalimari or some other type of fish, and I let them know that it’s a fish. They said they know. I asked them about the time when they said they would stop eating fish, and they said that was over or something of that nature.

It was not over for me.

I had no desire to eat fish, I had no need for it.

A few weeks later I realized that another friend of mine had the same exact daily rhythms as myself. Wake up early, meditate, run, complete yoga, and so forth. The only difference? She was also vegan. I realized that we were both intentional and pushed ourselves to the best versions of ourselves, physically, mentally, spiritually.

Minus not being a vegan, this person was a spiritual and knowledge twin. I realized that I was missing being a vegan, and I wanted to complete the part I was missing; I wanted to be in-tune with my friend on a deeper level. It’s important to note the focus was being more in-tune not just with this friend, but with the community of people like us that I realized were out there, and were taking even further steps into health and fitness beneficial ways of living.

A few days after having breakfast with this vegan friend, we met for hookah (late 2017). They shared their vegan knowledge, i.e. #truth, with me. I became vegan overnight, and since then, I have not looked back.

Back then, I was a vegan that could be swayed. I was a vegan in a form that still had an option of eating an animal. If I was starving in the wild and I had the opportunity to hunt, I would after only a few days of starving. After watching What The Health, that has changed. I would go weeks, unto my death, if I was faced with the task of killing and “cooking” an animal for my own survival.

Granted I have never been in this situation and do not hope so, but my very core has been transformed and I am more vegan than I could have ever imagined. Three or four years ago I thought it was crazy to be vegan, not anymore.

As a Romanian, I’ve eaten cow brains, pig testicles, liverwurst, kidneys, cow stomach, cow tongue, and a variety of other things. It’s a marvel to think that veganism in my country of birth is as foreign as eating pig testicles is to the average American. Eventually I would like to bring veganism, chai, and Krishna knowledge to Romania.

If I could build even one Hare Krishna or Interfaith temple in Romania, in this lifetime, I would be satisfied with what I gave back to the universe in return for the gift of being created in the form I now experience. I would like to make a note that I have been to Iskcon in Maryland once, and the people and food there was out of this world. I would kindly ask anyone reading this to experiment with meditation or yoga for a few weeks, to experiment with eating less animal products, and to take a few moments out of their week to visit a Hare Krishna temple near them. As far as I’m concerned, chai is optional. Chai is the destination you reach after a journey of becoming in-tune with your body.

As much as I believe that those who eat meat can benefit from chai, I know that those who are plant-based benefit from chai the most. This is because the benefits of the chai are not going towards fighting the negative effects of meat. When you are eating a clean and healthy diet, drinking chai is one of the last few things you can add to have an even better experience in this body, in this life.

I would have never asked myself to try veganism for a week when I was eating meat and expect to hear good results. I nearly died after being vegan, on accident, for three days when I was still eating fish. Likewise, I would never ask someone, like a butcher for example, to try chai and expect to hear good results. It’s about taking small steps in the right direction, versus being overwhelmed with an alien experience that you have no way to quantify or feel the residual effects of.

As a runner, I have observed nothing but benefits from a vegan diet. I understand that some people may experience a dip in energy after transitioning, and I know that the dip means nothing most of the time, and is natural.

Some people need extra iron or extra vitamins, that’s different. Figure out what your body needs. The dip I’m talking about is psychological. It’s the idea that a vegan is weaker. This is not true. When we cut out meat, our bodies crave what we cut out, in the same way they would if we drank soda for 10 years; we’d find ourselves craving soda.

Because we crave the soda after we stop, and because psychologically we feel less excited or energetic about our day does NOT mean that we are not healthier for it. Soda kills thousands of people every single year. Not drinking it is not as fun as drinking water, I can admit that. But it’s not about comparing soda to water. It’s about asking yourself what else you can drink. Is organic homemade lemonade better for you on a summer’s day than soda? You bet! Is it as easily accessible? No, you won’t find it in the fridge at a gas station.

It’s up to you to make it happen. Make a gallon of lemonade in advance and keep it in the fridge. Make the extra effort to live longer and better, so that when you’re 40, or 50, or 60, you won’t have to worry about organ failure due to making the wrong choices.

I think of meat like steroids. Yes, you will be weaker if you stop steroids. You will also live longer and as nature intended for humans to live. When you cut out meat, regardless of your age, be prepared to experience the “steroids” going away. Just know that you are going to live longer and are going to be stronger in the long-run.

I also enjoy writing. If you got this far into my writings, please read the following pieces:

My Chai Story

Last year I went on a road trip as part of a move from the East Coast, to the West Coast. My friend has a daughter that was born in Boulder, CO, and we stopped in Boulder as a result of the importance of the city. My friend’s daughter name is Sky by the way, named after the Boulder sky.

While in Boulder I went out to a hookah lounge with my friend. I saw a man with two nice looking dogs and asked if I could take photos of them. He said it would be alright, and my friend invited him over to sit with us. We ended up talking for over three hours.

The next day we were invited to the house of this man’s friend. I didn’t know who this friend was yet. All I knew was that their name was Sukey and they created this really great chai. I met Sukey and went on to rebuild the site that she had built for her chai, while living on the West coast. I also took artistic photos of the chai ingredients as a result of my passion for photography and falling in love with ommate’.

My last name is Ristea, which is marvelous to me considering that my name has the word TEA in it. Sukey’s own name was prophetic:

Sukey was led to tea by what some would label a prophecy. As early as two or three years old, in the earliest portrait that can be found of her, she is seen holding a copper tea kettle.

Later while living in Marrakesh, Morocco she was given the nickname of Sukey. As it happens, the name came from the English nursery rhyme “Polly put the Kettle On” and served as another form of foreshadowing for the journey ahead of her.

It’s amazing to think that my own family name, Ristea, has been prophetic of my being.

In some ways I identify as Octavian, and I identify as a Krishna Follower, and I identify as Krishna, all in one. This is due to memories and fleeting experiences of past lives. This year, in 2018, I realized for the first time that Krishna is the 8th avatar of Vishnu. Octavian has 8 characters in it. I believe in the infinite self, and 8 turned on its side is the symbol of infinity. There is no doubt in my mind that I am meant to be alongside my friend, who has a passion for practicing Ayruvedic knowledge, as a vegan with a name that includes tea, which is all compatible with my beliefs and identity.

After living on the West Coast I moved back to the East Coast, and I had thoughts of Boulder, thoughts of a Boulder life, and thoughts of chai. I came to a point where it made more sense to go and live in Boulder than it did to stay in Virginia.

After having lived in the East, the North, the South, the North again, the East, the West, and the East once more, all in a matter of three years, I knew it was time to balance it all out and find my center. Boulder is that center, veganism is that center, and chai is that center.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to learn a little bit more about me.

The divinity in me honors the divinity in you.

Baba Nam Kevalam.

Hare Krishna.