Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vegetarians

Recently several friends of mine have recommended a book called The China Study by Colin Campbell. When I found out what it was about I was a little reluctant to read it because I heard it contained tons of data showing the benefits of a vegetarian diet. During the course of my life I have wished to be many things, but one thing I have never aspired to be is a vegetarian. Some of the vegetarians I have seen over the years appear to be much thinner than the average person, but they haven't necessarily looked healthier to me. Some were gaunt and appeared undernourished. Others even looked like their eyes would roll out of their sockets if they leaned forward.

I don't have a problem with vegetarians unless they get too extreme and push it on you. Some vegans can get militant about what they eat and what they think others should not. These are the people who say you "shouldn't eat anything with a face" and are known for joining PETA, protesting, throwing paint on furs, etc. In fact over time the word vegan has conjured up an unsavory connotation in my mind to the point that if I were a stand up comedian one of my lines would be "So do we have any vegans in the audience"? Two people raise their hands. I'd then say "Dang, well never mind then".

I've never had a problem with eating animals or animal products. I think they were intended to be used for that purpose. Until we live in a perfect world where sharks no longer attack people I will continue to claim my spot atop the food chain. However; I am not one who advocates cruelty to animals either. I don't hunt and have never killed an animal (unless you claim that my willingness to eat meat produces an increased demand by society which causes the killing of many animals). I don't have a problem with those who do hunt if they use what they kill.

So if I finish this book and finally accept it's suggestions how can I make the change? I am never going to go all out and stop eating animal products completely. Fortunately I know there are many levels or degrees of vegetarians. The most extreme is the Vegan which has the commitment level of a Jedi Knight. A regular vegetarian is more like a 3rd degree black belt. Others adhere to a semi-vegetarian diet. This is more like Fonzie. I will shoot for a flexitarian diet which puts an emphasis on plant based foods but still allows eating animal products but just less frequently. Unfortunately this only has the commitment level of Homer Simpson. At least this way I can still go to barbecues, pizza parties, etc. without having to take a celery stalk and soy shake so I can prove to others how much fun I'm having by depriving myself of all the bad food everyone else is enjoying.

I can appreciate people trying to eat healthier but it seems to be an uphill battle in today's society. I've noticed that unhealthy food is much more affordable and plentiful than healthy alternatives. The few times I have been to health food stores I always get a kick out of the organic produce section. I once saw produce that was labeled as oranges. They were small, shrivelled, and hard. They had a brownish orange color to them and only cost twice as much as the regular gigantic juicy oranges that got that way from "the man" using evil chemicals and pesticides.

Most Americans are overweight and are plagued with cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and other diseases and are on many medications. Nutrition obviously plays a large role in their health. I admit that as a nation we eat too much processed food and empty calories and I think everyone would benefit from eating more whole and natural foods (especially plant based foods). I encourage you to join with me by trying to eat healthier. I am willing to step up to the plate (no put intended) and give it my best shot. At least until someone offers me something unhealthy that I totally feel like eating.

4 comments:

ThirstyApe said...

I would highly recommend The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson Blatner. The author also has a great website (www.dawnjacksonblatner.com) with tons of great recipes.

MikkSolo said...

I completely agree but I can believe you are committing to eat healthy before "the holidays". Isn't that what January's for? I do have a problem with you comparing a Vegan to a Jedi Knight.

Shawn

Angie said...

Go for it, Tom! Good for you. I've been thinking about this a lot too, and haven't quite decided where I stand on it. I enjoyed your comments, and especially your comparisons of the commitment levels!

MEM (Mary) said...

Did you know that your little brother has been a vegetarian for over two years now?

Unfortunately, my commitment level is somewhere between Homer Simpson's and Fonzie's.