This week we had a guest, Jodie B, who can to talk about veganism and more importantly veganuary, the idea that for just this first month of the year we could maybe go vegan and see what it feels like.
Regular listeners will know that I am a veggie. What that means is that I do some cheese and the odd egg. Sometimes I will do some fish. We have lost of words used to describe various diets and eating styles, vegan = plant based, vegetarian = plant with a bit of dairy, pescatarian = plant and fish, fruitarian= only what is dropped from the tree, rawtarian = is vegan but only eating raw not cooked food.
Our food effects our health but also how we feel
The concept that you are what you eat was coined by Anthelme Brilliat-Savarin in 1816 or the idea that most of us are digging our own grave with our knife and fork, which is claimed to be an old English proverb are used to support different diets.
Neuropsychology and dietetics both confirm that what we eat can effect our health but we also now realise that what we eat can effect how we feel as in the book ‘food and mood’ by Amanda Gerry. For each of us the road to developing a diet that works for us is a very personal matter.
Understanding what we are eating
The idea of being vegan or vegetarian or whatever is a concept that is effected and swayed by morales, ideas, philosophies, science and even religion. One of the reasons that human beings have survived so successfully is that we have been prepared to eat anything and at times this has included each other. Our companions on our evolutionary path have been rats, pigs and dogs who likewise have been prepared to eat anything to survive. I think that the only times that a human being is actually eating appropriately is when they either enlightened or pregnant. When the pregnant woman feels the intense craving for a particular food she is in touch with and listening to her body. Most time people are eating with their mind and not their body. So, they end up giving their body what they think it should have rather than what it actually wants or needs. I suspect that is why we suffer so many vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
I have known many vegetarians and vegans, over the years, who have been miserable because they are living their life on the basis of ought rather than desire. I have no judgement of right and wrong in this regard. We are what we eat, but we are what we choose to eat.
I am reminded of the strict vegan meditator who suddenly, to her friends horror, started eating chicken when she was pregnant. She was listening to her body and providing it with what it needed rather than what she thought it should have.
Developing your own eating style
I was brought up as a meat eater, a standard meat and two veg diet. After leaving home I became vegetarian not really from choice but more to do with the fact that the situations I chose to live in were vegetarian and so it was for many years that I did not eat meat. Back in Britain I found that I was eating a white bread bacon sandwich and began to question what I was doing. To try and work this out for me. And on the basis that I had the opportunity I got a small holding and starting raising my own animals. Eventually there came the day when animals had to be slaughtered. I entered the reality of the meat economy in a big way and over the next few years slaughtered many hundreds if not thousands of animals. Finally I got to the point of realising that other beings do not really need to die in order for me to live. From there I went back to being a veggie. At times I have gone back to eating meat but over all I am a veggie and feel most comfortable that way. I don’t like milk, though I do have some cheese and the odd bit of fish.
Eggs are interesting for me as both chicken and ducks will produce eggs on a daily basis the majority of which are infertile. Theses birds will do this whether we eat the eggs or not. This raises the issue of how are animals kept and can it ever be ok to keep an animal in captivity for our benefit? Captive animals may include farm animals and those in zoos. However I find it hard to see the difference between keeping dogs and cats or horses. In every case where a human being takes control of the life of another being that being surrenders it’s identity to their owner or controller.
I find it very odd when a family of humans keep a dog as a valued member of the family. They will spend thousands on keeping it well and will fight anyone that threatens it. Then they will go home and eat a baby lamb and think nothing of it. How strange is the human mind that it can give the dog a value and that will look down on those societies that openly eat dogs and yet will happily eat a lamb or a calf.
Is it health, morality or environmental?
There is a mass of scientific evidence that would suggest that eating meat may not actually be that good for us and could in fact be making us ill and creating or encouraging cancers.
Is there a moral argument that as, we assume, the most intelligent animals on the planet we should be the custodians of all the other species and treat all living being equally.
The environmental argument is pretty unassailable. The amount of ground and resources that it takes to make a meat product rather than feeding the plants direct to the humans is ridiculous. On that sense meat production makes no sense.
I am not a food fascist and I am a cook. I prefer not to eat meat but if I came to your house and you had lovingly and inadvertently prepared a meat dish for me I would say grace and eat it with gratitude. The issue for each of us and our own development is about each of us understanding what we do and why we do it at all levels not just at the level of food. Our relationship with all earthlings and that include other people should be the focus of our awareness. From that point of view to be a real vegan would mean to treat all and everything with love and respect.
There are too many gurus and teachers propounding their own latest discovery or idea and expecting everyone else to go along with what they now see as ‘the truth’. That is true of politics, religion, diet, health, exercise, education… the list becomes endless. Just as the born again non smoker becomes a zealot so does the vegan, vegetarian, yogi, meditator and so on.
Listen to your inner voice
Listen to your consciousness, to you intuition and be true to yourself. Then you have a chance of living a sane life that makes sense for you and eventually for the world.
Take care and be happy