The ad I’m now seeing off I-95 in Connecticut, found on this blog
For anyone who has to travel on I-95 in the western portion of Connecticut, you know there is always traffic, and often it is at a standstill. Well placed ads on the side of the freeway make sense there, and I started to see black and white ads (like the one above) rabidly promoting veganism as a way to prevent animal cruelty.
Normally I don’t care much about veganism or other fad diets in general, but what I’m starting to notice is that a lot of really smart people my age (the Xenials if you will) are pushing veganism in various forms for their families. They think it’s healthier, gets back to our “agrarian roots,” and that if we only just stopped killing animals and eating processed food, world peace would rain down like manna from heaven.
OK, I made the manna part up, but it’s not far off the vegan ideal.
I’m not a food expert, but I have a helpful background:
- Despite constantly working out, I was borderline overweight until I made some shifts in my diet.
- My doctor’s visits, where they do bloodwork and other checks, put me in the best categories for healthy living.
- I’ve hunted animals, slaughtered them, raised vegetables organically, and worked with lots of farmers, including many of my family members.
Considering Peter’s bacon post is what originally drew me here, I think this is quite timely.
First, human’s are omnivores. It’s true, read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” if you want the full story. Our body has an amazing way of being able to digest darn near everything. If you dig into it, the complex relation your stomach has with gut bacteria that keeps you healthy is pretty cool, and to me proof that you’re one of God’s creations. What’s really neat is that our omnivore diet gives us strength against a variety of environments, including the Arctic, where they eat almost no vegetables.
The bad part of being an omnivore is you can eat anything. In the past this was less of an issue, because people grew 40% of the vegetables they consumed. I’ve seen other estimates even reach the 50% mark. You didn’t worry about “organic” because you saw what you ate grow in front of you. Plenty of people had chickens, beef came from a local butcher, and a lot of people hunted. We had food that was alive too: vinegar, beer, yogurt and cream, all coming naturally through fermentation or as by-products of manufacture, and in many cases, made at home.
We’ve given that up, opting instead for high fructose corn syrup, unicorn drinks with over 400 calories, processed yogurt with live bacteria re-inserted, chicken nuggets and GMOs. We say hunting is bad, but then allow an explosion of deer population to cause over 1 billion in damage. The vegetarian lifestyle? Highly processed in most cases, with tofu being one of the worst offenders.
Our biggest problem is not that we are omnivores, or that we like to eat meat. No, it’s that we don’t know what the heck we’re eating anymore. The food we buy in the super market is too often a highly processed version of the real thing. So even when we try to buy healthy, we’re often simply buying a stripped version of an already bad product. It often causes us to eat more than normal because it doesn’t fill us up, making it hard to lose weight, something I personally lived through.
It’s the light beer problem: we like drinking beer, but forget that light beer is a highly processed source of calories that adds little in terms of flavor and benefit. Drink a real beer (and by that I mean something you like: an IPA, amber ale, or a real lager), and you get the true benefits of beer, including the micro nutrients and beneficial yeast. Even better, good beer fills you up, so you don’t pound a 6 pack. Good beer is real food. Light beer is garbage.
We can’t eat real food until we know what real food is. If you don’t come from a family of farmers, you need to meet one. Try finding a community supported agriculture near you. I did this before in Virginia and it was a blast. We got a basket of food every week, and a chance to talk with a farmer about how they grew it and how their farm works. It stretched my wife’s cooking ability, because our first basket had turnips, and neither of us knew how to cook them. You can use CSAs for vegetables, cheese, dairy and meat, among other items.
Even better, try growing your own. Dig a small garden. It’s cheap, you don’t need a fancy $800 raised bed, just a sunny spot in the yard. There are a million garden books online (and in your library for free), and many states even publish growing guides (check out Virginia’s here). Gardening teaches you how real food is made, and that knowledge teaches you to ask more intelligent questions.
As you do this, please educate those around you. Your kids are particularly vulnerable to what I call “angry veganism.” You’d be surprised how often your school teachers are hailing vegan diets and ideas as somehow superior to a normal balanced diet. If you don’t fight back with hands on learning, you’ll doom your kids to think vegan diets are great, while they suffer from lack of iron, B12 and other micro nutrients. I always do this in a friendly manner. I’ve had people try venison jerky and steak at my house, plus have them help me plant a garden. A little bit of education might make a huge difference.
Lastly, get active in your local community. Too many communities are banning front yard gardens and rain water collecting. We don’t all live on 5 acres of farmland with plenty of garden space, and these ordinances only serve to push us to buy more processed products and purple drinks. Sit in on those local community meetings and educate people.
The more you know, the more you’ll grow, in more ways than one.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. Because let’s be honest, I don’t trust the government to tell me what to eat, and you probably shouldn’t either.
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