Diet overload, healthy choices, and which label fits?

posted by Russ, May 4 in health & diet with tags , , , ,

1 comment so far

Health and diet has been something I’ve been reading a lot about lately. I don’t mean diet as it pertains to losing weight, I am talking about diet as it pertains to lifestyle and being healthy. Until recently I have for the most part always eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD). While I knew there wasn’t something quite right about it, I never really sorted it out until now. (Though I’m sure it will be an evolving process, and my feelings are open to change.)

As I’ve written recently, I’ve been eating mostly vegan, and have even experimented with a raw diet in the past. But I have not sworn off of meat completely, since I do believe that we have evolved to truly be omnivores. That said, I do believe in veganism and what it stands for, and I do firmly believe factory farming is wrong (on many levels). I don’t see the act of eating meat as inherently wrong, nor do I think it is it morally wrong. But I do think what has happened to our food system is wrong.

Typically when I am trying to answer a question about health or diet, I think about how things would be in nature, before we got too smart for our own good and decided we could outdo Mother Nature. And so when it comes to food, that means before factory farms, before synthetic chemicals, before the industrial revolution, and even before agricultural as we know it. The theory (that I buy into) as it relates to diet is that things have changed so rapidly in the last 10,000 years or so (which is but a blip in the history of life) regarding agriculture and animal husbandry and the food we eat, that our bodies haven’t evolved as quickly. So what we think is healthy is a bit different than what our body thinks is healthy and what we would have eaten only a short time ago as hunter/gatherers.

Of course, these animals we would have eaten would have all been “free range” animals, taken from a natural environment where they ate their natural diet, not raised in stalls, eating junk, and injected with who knows what. So the first problem as I see it is that our society has so totally disconnected meat with the animals it actually comes from. Most people who love a thick steak don’t make that connection, they don’t think of the life that the animal lived (or was created to live), or the factory farm that they are implicitly supporting by eating that meat.

Sure, if you look at the natural world, you will see that plenty of animals eat other animals. But you will also see that they aren’t eating other animals three times a day at 7:00, 12:00, and 6:00 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So the other problem is that we are eating entirely too much meat as well.

Needless to say, what I am getting at here is that my pseudo-vegan diet of late is not related to a belief that humans shouldn’t eat meat, rather it is an ethical and moral decision that I am struggling with. My compromise has been that I will stop eating meat, dairy, and eggs that in any way relate to or support factory farming. But if I get my hands on beef that has been free range, grass fed, pasture raised and humanely cared for and slaughtered, then I will compromise. I’m still not sure how I feel about eggs and dairy. (I am leaning towards eliminating all dairy regardless or its source.)

That said, I would find it strange to say I’m vegan, as would I find it strange to associate myself with the meat eating crowd. I don’t think there is a box or label to put on it, other than to say I don’t believe in the way we have come to treat these “factory” animals, and that I am trying to become a more conscious eater. I suppose it could be a hybrid diet drawing influence from both (raw) vegan and Paleo. (Though the moral and environmental issues behind consuming a lot of seafood is another entire topic.) And just because I believe a raw diet has some merit, and I associate with the ideals of veganism and believe in what they both represent doesn’t mean I should deny myself something that I may want or crave, (namely a grass fed, free range, organic beef burger with onion, lettuce, tomato and no cheese), which is where the Paleo influence comes in. I think it’s totally acceptable for me to be “vegan” 6 days a week, and I think that is a great compromise of my morals, ethics, and beliefs. And just because I may break the rules of veganism to enjoy meat once in a while, it doesn’t mean that the rest of what I am doing is all for naught. Nor does it change the big picture of my lifestyle choices.

I think this will suit me just fine for the time being. I’ll make a choice that’s right for me, no need to label me.

Originally posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 6:23 AM .

One Response to “Diet overload, healthy choices, and which label fits?”

  1. […] I am not against eating meat – I know the obvious arguments about meat and dairy, and I do not consume these things daily like most people. If at all, I consume maybe 1 servering or meat or dairy once per week. And lately, I’ve realized that while eating raw contributes to long term health, there are plenty of people who’ve followed “regular” diets in moderation and have gone on to be healthy well into their 90s or even 100s. As long as we’re not eating crappy processed food daily, I think any diet that practices moderation and mindfulness is a good one. My diet is mostly vegan, but once in a while I do eat meat, and I like it that way. I am not going to belabor this point, as I’ve written a fairly extensive explanation here. […]

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