Fat Kid Suit


5 Comments

Eating Less Animals

 

Player Haters

If you know me or have read much of this blog you know that I’m all over the map on just about everything, and perhaps especially–food.

I remember being judged–a lot–for that trait growing up.  It puzzled me then and still, why people prefer others to be constant.  Maybe it’s a deep seated fear of death, that big unknown?  Maybe we get complacent and someone else constantly changing threatens that?  Whatever it is, however ridiculous I believe it to be, it’s powerful and at work in all corners of our culture.

In my past life I was a change machine.

That said, the chastisement I received for ever re-inventing myself never really bothered me so much as surprised me.  I guess I always took the disapproval as confirmation of something about myself that I actually really like…contradiction.

 

Why I hate the word VEGAN.


I don't hate the messenger.


Off and on over the years, usually as a result of something I’ve read, I find myself going back to a diet sans animals.  The whole topic is a mixed bag for me.  Why?

My first “attempt” at vegan-ism did not end well.  I got sick.  I got fat.  I got judgmental.  And so did my wife (yes I used to be married) who joined me for almost two years of admittedly vegan junk food binging.  We did it all wrong, and all the while just kept congratulating ourselves on the sole fact that we weren’t consuming (or wearing) any animal products.  We were horrified to go back to meat eating, but after a few months we were “normal” again.

I had other periods of time in my life where I was or close to vegetarian, just not feeling the need for meat.  And slowly over the years, even a “normal” diet for me never got back to my childhood levels of flesh consumption, eating  meat with every meal, every day.  But other than my two 100% raw food forays I’ve deliberately avoided the “V” word.  For many reasons:

  1. “ISM’s” bother me.  A lot.  They fly in the face of true free will, give people a false sense of importance, and almost always for convenience toss the baby out with the bathwater.
  2. I hate faux food.  Along with serious misgivings about soy (health & environment) I can’t stand imitation food.  I don’t want soy nuggets or soy bacon.  A lot of crap is technically “vegan.”  I applaud people who cook authentic real recipes that are what they are and are naturally devoid of animal products (or gluten, or don’t need to be cooked, etc.).
  3. I’m not convinced that eating meat, or eggs, or dairy is bad for you.  I feel great when I eat red meat.  I think a lot of the standard vegan arguments, like the assertion made in Fit For Life by Harvey Diamond that because we don’t want to chase down squirrels and tear them to pieces with non-existent fangs and claws, are silly.  Nature and evolution are complex, why pretend to know any of it beyond doubt?
  4. I think proselytizing about not eating animals just reinforces the majority of others determination to do so.  If you are serious about your desire to limit the atrocious suffering caused by industrial food, much more can be accomplished by a.) getting most people to eat even just a little less commercial meat and dairy, and b.) using consumer pressure to radically change the unacceptable practice of factory farming.  Congratulating people for making better choices goes so much further than chastising them for their bad ones…

 

Buddha was full of seeming contradictions.

So after saying all that, I gotta say that after all these years I’m seriously considering adopting essentially a vegan diet.  Told you I’m all over the place.  But why?

Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals along with some reading I’ve been doing on the Buddha dharma regarding doing no harm are both deeply resonating with me.

Foer makes a powerful argument that right now, in our current food system reality, being a conscious eater who wishes to avoid factory “farmed” “food” essentially means not eating meat or dairy.  Much of the feel good reassurances on animal product packaging regarding the absence of hormones, antibiotics, or cages, is as Foer says, complete bullshit.  Does it really surprise us that an industry so dark and dishonest would continue to lie to us, this time by telling us what we want to hear?

At first I thought Foer should have titled his book Eating Less Animals.  That way, the everyman could find it in him/herself to make a commitment to meatless Mondays and lighter vegetarian lunches.  The net effect of which would vastly eclipse the result of a relative few who give up animal products altogether.  But for days my new title kept making me laugh.  Eating Less Animals–there is something absurd about that to me.  I picture us as these weird Aliens with a depraved sense of entitlement to the flesh of other creatures.  And then I picture a random phone conversation between two perfectly nice human beings…

“Hi Barbara, whatcha been doing?”

“Not a lot.  Just reading this fab new book called Eating Less Animals.”

“Reeeaaaalllly?”

“Yeah, I really need to eat a few less chickens, and pigs and cows Barbara!”

Weird, right?  By the way, read Foer’s book, I think you’ll be shocked at exactly how many whole animals most of us eat in one year, and in our lifetimes!  And I think you’ll also be surprised by his tone and treatment of such a complex personal issue.

At the essence of Buddhism (oops there’s another Ism) is compassion and a whole lot of talk about suffering.  The reason vegetarianism is associated with Buddhism is because of perhaps the simplest teaching…if we cannot help others or be good human beings ourselves, the Buddha said at least do no harm to others.  And guess what?  Others is not restricted to other humans.  It’s others in it’s truest sense, and extends to anything capable of suffering.

But also wrapped up in the often confusing, yet somehow enlightening mumbo of Buddha’s teachings is compassion and understanding toward numero uno.  In fact, at the heart of the No Harm philosophy is a necessary selfishness rooted in simple cause and effect.  It ultimately hurts us when we hurt others.  Whether they have two legs or four.  Whether we think they are stupid or cute.  It just does.  One look at how sick we are as a nation demonstrates that.  We are literally a culture of death.  We mistreat and kill to eat, and it’s killing us.

 

I want to make it clear that I genuinely applaud every single person that is involved in bringing real food to consumers.  That includes meat, dairy, and vegetables.  I hope someday the average person will reduce their overall consumption of animals (see sounds silly again) and insist that those they do eat came from real farms, not factories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For now, I’m going to spend some time not eating meat.  I’m also going to eliminate any dairy except for raw aged goat cheese  & eggs that I buy from a local farmer I trust to not exploit her goats and chickens.

Interestingly (and this is according to the Dalai Lama), Buddhist monks are not prohibited from eating meat despite their profound compassion for animals.  As monks they eat either the vegetarian meal provided them in the monastery or beg food once a day when traveling.  While they would never want an animal to be killed specifically to feed them, out of compassion for their human hosts they eat whatever they are given.  Also tied up in that is a profound acceptance of their reality and a refreshing lack of concern over food in general–allowing them to focus on other things.

So if you ever see me eating a juicy burger again, I hope I’m selfish enough to be eating the flesh of an animal that was well cared for up until its slaughter, and that you will understand that like life, I’m an ever-changing contradiction.


2 Comments

Sexy Apple Cider Vinegar

Not much to report yet in regards to progress.  For the record I stated I would take “baby steps” in my efforts to get my health back.

So to start with, my attention is on simple awareness.  What I do.  Why I do it.  The whole “seeing” thing.

And how it actually feels.  I’ve been noticing that sometimes I assume things feel certain ways even when the opposite is true.

So here is what I saw today in an effort to simply observe–minus expectation and judgment :

MIND

  • I look like Buddha.  At 250 lbs I have his cheeks. 
  • I sleep very late.  The past two days I made an effort to awake earlier (like in the morning), and realized I stay in bed because I don’t know what to do with myself all day.  My life is minus direction, and time only flies while I’m passed out.
  • I think I think too much.  And I’m questioning the value I place on thinking.
  • I used to look people in the eyes–almost searching theirs–now I look away.
  • The foods I eat sound so good until I finish eating them.  After, I feel heavy and less than inspired.  Even defeated.
  • I’ve lost any actual belief in my ability to accomplish anything that requires a real commitment (i.e., time/$/energy).
  • I like people less than ever.

 

BODY

Physically, besides getting up earlier, I am taking nice long walks each day.  Today the heat returned to Palm Springs, so I will wait until around 9PM to take a brisk (pace not temperature) stroll because the temp should drop to around 85 degrees by then.

The only other “healthy” changes I’ve made so far is cutting back on the quantity of coffee and booze a bit, and adding organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s) to my daily routine.

The main reason I’m taking apple cider vinegar (ACV) is to try and reset my stomach and buffer my horrific Acid Reflux.  I’m experimenting with it plain in water first thing in morning and before lunch (which is after coffee).

Late at night instead of my normal bourbon-based cocktails I mix a couple tbs of ACV with 1 tsp of natural baking soda and about 8 0z of cold water and pour it over rocks.  Not actually that sexy, but it kinda tastes like hard cider, and so far it seems to be helping.

For what it’s worth I’ve also read that ACV has a slew of other benefits (kidney cleaner, clear skin, weight loss, etc.).  I’ll report any benefits I experience.

I’ve made no other changes to my diet yet.  A side affect of the mindfulness attempts is that I am cleaning up what I eat a little here and there just because I’m kinda watching myself as an observer…


4 Comments

10/10/10

I’ve been in bad shape lately. For eight months I’ve avoided posting here because I was embarrassed to report how out of it I’ve been.

You may have read that I was getting sidelined by hernia symptoms. I’d like to say I’ve addressed that, but instead I’ve been afraid of making it worse and thus have been terribly sedentary–which has made it, uh,  worse.

Lack of activity coupled with a return to my previous unhealthy eating & drinking (If I were a law firm it would be called Binge & Binge Associates) means I’ve packed a lot of the fat I lost back on.

A few days ago I started getting the urge to regroup and put myself out there again (for both scrutiny & support).  My alcohol addled brain has been making a case for changing nothing in my life, but for some reason 10/10/10 kept popping into my head all week as a portentous date for me and my well-being…

Reading over my previous blog-posts I’m shocked by how healthy I was.  I remember how nice it was to feel that good and happy.

I’m not prepared to commit to a 100% raw diet today, but I will be adding some healthy foods back into my life (I’ve been categorically avoiding fruit and greens).  I’ll also be cutting back/out some of the shit foods that have once again taken on more meaning in my life than they deserve.  And in the spirit of baby steps, I will move about more.

On some level I really believe the Buddhist credo about simple awareness being the key to ourselves and that we are already fine how we are at any given moment.  If we put our attention on just seeing what is, without judging what we see, it’s sorta automatically self-corrective in a really healthy way that makes a lot more sense than flogging…

 

So for now I’ll just write down what I “see.”

  • I weigh exactly 250 pounds today.
  • My acid reflux has gotten ridiculously bad and is at times painful and even scary.
  • My flexibility is nil, and my aerobic capacity is next to nil.
  • I’m optimistic.