A plant based, whole food diet

On the road trip to Chicago, Benji and Louisa watched a Netflix video on Benji’s smartphone called Forks over Knives.  It was a pretty compelling documentary linking processed foods and carnivorous diets to all kinds of health problems.

diet over surgery

When i lived in eastern Europe i was a vegetarian.  i was challenged by my friend Chuck Kane to do it with him.  It turns out that the east European diet is much more meat centric than this country’s.  Vegetarians are often asked if they eat fish or even chicken.  However, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time and i ate this way, principally for sustainability reasons, for about 5 years.

After Hawina and i took the Polish steam ship across the Atlantic in 1997 and moved to Twin Oaks, i thought to myself, “if anyone is doing sustainable meat, it is this commune and i live it and i am going to return to it.”  It turned out to be unworkable for me to not eat meat in the mainstream and then enjoy it on the commune.  So i started eating meat again, more off the farm than on it.

A couple of years back i read an article on the effect on rainforests from the clear cutting and grazing practices in the Amazon as they related to  beef production.  And specifically, the article stated that cows were, overall, worse than cars in terms of their negative climate effects.  I decided that i would mostly stop eating beef, both on the commune and in Babylon.

There have been exceptions.  I want to encourage us to dumpster food, so when there’s dumpstered meat on the steam table (usually under Ezra’s close supervision), i will eat meat that was going to be thrown away.  This also includes beef that my son is going to compost, which he is these days bringing to me along with other scraps. He drops his plate in front of me and refers to me as “bio bucket,” which i take as a term of endearment.

On this trip, since this Forks over Knives,  i have decide to minimize the amount of processed and animal-based foods i consume. i think i will try to do this for a month or two to see how i feel.

One of the more interesting points from the Forks over Knives film was that agribusiness in the US influences the USDA’s recommendation around the food that people should eat, such as instructing kids and adults to consume meat and dairy products when these are clearly contraindicated for health.  One solution would be for insurance companies to offer discounts to health and life insurance plans for people who switch to healthier diets, as they do with people who quit smoking.  This would encourage corporations to change the quality of their vegetarian and vegan options in their cafeterias and other food dispensaries.

When i mentioned this on Facebook, an ex-member teased me that i should read the Omnivore’s Dilemma,  a book Sapphyre has been reading.  The author points out that most first world persons are living on corn, and that even folks eating principally organic and vegetarian foods are having a significant negative ecological impact if the food is produced in an industrialized fashion.  Here again the Twin Oaks solution of highly tended, non-chemical food that we grew ourselves makes us both different from almost everyone and dramatically reduces our ecological impact.

Stay tuned for the results of this little personal experiment.

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

9 responses to “A plant based, whole food diet”

  1. Will says :

    Since I became a vegetarian a couple of years ago, people often ask me “what made you change?” I usually answer “ALL the reasons! I’m just embarrassed that it took me so long!”

    Rarely does anyone pursue the question further and ask for a list of the reasons, which is good, because I’ve never compiled one. But, off the top of my head:

    – (one of?) the largest sources of greenhouse gas in the world
    – incredible cruelty to animals, in many cases
    – inefficient way to produce calories, in a world where there’s still lots of hunger
    – terribly rapid destruction of rainforests
    – fostering of antibiotic resistance
    – huge waste disposal and water pollution problem
    – most major human infectious diseases originate from herd or flock animals
    – some reason to think that meat diets promote heart disease and cancer

    I submit this ad hoc list simply because it occurs to me that if anyone is susceptible to the persuasive power of overwhelming reason, it might be you, Pax.

    Ball’s in your court, my friend. 🙂

  2. paxus says :

    Dearest Will:

    You reading and occasionally replying to my blog is one of my favorite aspects of this adventure. i am flattered that i am able to entice you into sporadic comment and i appreciate that you use it as a platform to try to influence my behavior. And in this one, you are reasonably likely to succeed.

    But if we are clever, we will look at it as a memetic exercise. How do we take this idea and make it spread to others, become irresistible? We have everyone from Einstein (“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”) to Mike Tyson to Darwin to Buddha to Jeff Beck to Isaac Newton to Sinhead O’conner as highly visible proponents of this diet.

    What we need to do is make this choice sexy, to make people excited to be part of this group.

    How do you think we might do this?

    Paxus in Chicago
    14 Tripoli Fall 2KXI

  3. paxus says :

    Stealing the best comments from Google Plus – the first from Jess X

    -1 to making it even harder to be poor by making insurance more expensive if you happen to not be able to afford healthy food.

    +1 to subsidizing good food (and good prepared food) so that it’s cheaper and more convient to eat veggies than whatever’s on the dollar menu at Wendy’s. Bonus points for subsidizing good food to the point that it appears on said dollar menu!

    Propaganda is only part of why people eat the way they do in America. I think cost is a bigger reason. Make it cheap and easy to fill up on healthy stuff and more people will go that route, even without changing the propaganda. Make it more expensive to get insurance if you eat unhealthy food, and you’ll just have more uninsured people.

  4. paxus says :

    Dearest Jess:

    Excellent points. Tho i am curious, isn’t if cheaper to eat less meat? Aren’t veggie burgers cheaper than beef? [It is a real question, i dont actually buy either because of the commune, so i dont know.]

    Thanks for pointing out the class issues associated with this proposed solution of mine.

    Paxus in Chicago
    14 Tripoli Fall 2KXI

  5. paxus says :

    From Chad:

    oh! I know the answer to that one! Veggie burgers should be cheaper, by at least an order of magnitude and probably a lot more! But no. They aren’t. In fact, crazily, if your primary concern is cost of the food itself, meat burgers can be considerably cheaper.

  6. drebsays says :

    I would recommend In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto instead of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. OD is a good read, informative and interesting, but In Defense of Food deals more with issues you’re talking about here. While not promoting a vegetarian diet, he does offer arguments for a diet of mostly plants.

  7. paxus says :

    We went to the China King Buffet this evening on our family adventure. There is dramatically less for me to eat if i am adhering to this tye of diet, And there was still plenty of options. And i still ate the fish Willow was going to throw out.

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