Changing the Way We Think About Food

Let me start off by saying, this post is not to promote a vegan lifestyle. I’m also not promoting not being vegan.

I was vegetarian for a large chunk of my life and transitioned into being vegan for a short while. I enjoyed both experiences, but realized vegan is not meant for me due to my culture, activity level, and other personal reasons. I admire people who can maintain the lifestyle and hope everyone can respect it from an unbiased mindset, including my decision to keep meat in my diet. Truth is, I don’t care for labels.
Even without being veg-anthing, I really don’t consume a lot of meat. I recently passed by a string of factory farms and since then, I’ve been super hyperaware of where my food comes from and how I can go about getting it. The stench just can’t be erased from my mind.

Nowadays, you’re either vegan or not, but what if it’s not so black and white? Are vegans really vegans only because of their love for animals? Or does it go beyond that? Why is obesity an epidemic in the U.S., but in Canada, Asia, and other countries, people are presumptuously healthier and obesity rates lower?

The Disconnection of Where Food Comes From

I was reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and in it he talks about how society has become completely disconnected from what is on their plate. We have been sheltered from the factory farming process and blinded from what animals live through to get on their plate. The constant argument is that meat has always been a part of a human’s diet, which is true, but people hunted for survival. Factory farming is not natural. Pumping chicken up with fluids is not natural. Cramping hundreds of pigs in a small space without a glimpse of daylight for their entire lives is not only cruel and unnatural, but calls for diseases. Spraying vegetables with chemicals is not natural. The Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which I find disgusting, has been around for years, but people are just now finding out about it because of Youtube and social media. It created an uproar, in part because it connected people’s emotions and minds about how that could be their house pet. But let me ask: how does it make Baconfest, [Insert City Name] Bacon Festival, and other pig-related festivals okay? Because they don’t slaughter pigs in public, but rather behind factory doors? (For those that want to argue that pigs and dogs are not the same, read this and let me know how they’re different than dogs.)

The Rest of the World

 
I am Taiwanese American. When I was younger, I would spend my summers in Taiwan and always go food shopping with my grandma. We would walk to the local farmer’s market, which was open every day, not only one day out of the week. I would watch my grandma choose her produce and ask where it comes from. I also saw chickens and fish get their heads cut off. Every time before dinner, we would pray and thank the Gods for our dinner (I’m Buddhist, for those wondering). Interestingly enough, seeing a chicken die was not what made me become vegetarian. It was back in the States when I saw a video of cows being hung upside down, gutted open, and bleeding out to death that did it for me. I spent the next 4 years of my life revolted with meat.
My point is, other parts of the world grow and pick their produce and raise a sustainable amount of livestock to feed their families or communities. In recent years, fast food chains have expanded into other parts of the world, replacing an indigenous diet to processed foods. The result: increased obesity rates.

How is This Important to Me?

Well for one, when animals are genetically modified and pumped with hormones, how does that affect your body? If hormones are to make chickens fat, when we eat it, doesn’t it make us fat too? When animals are genetically modified, doesn’t it modify our cells too (…cancer)? The disconnection between people and farming is detrimental to not only animals, but to our own health.

Granted, I’m not perfect. I enjoy Taco Bell, which is my fast food vice. I drink diet coke occasionally after 8 years of not touching it. Like I said, I don’t eat a lot of meat generally, specifically pork and beef, but being in a relationship has changed that a quite a bit. It’s definitely harder when dating someone with a different diet than you, but it’s life and you will always come across people from different cultures and mindsets. I can only do the best I can in taking care of my own health and everything else in moderation. Recently, I realized I had sort of lost myself in that I wasn’t feeling in tune with my own body. Something just felt off and I decided to go back to how I used to eat before meeting my boyfriend and feel like myself again. Can I explain it? Not really, but I definitely feel a change.

Knowledge is Power and so is Action

My defense when it comes to vegans is their commitment to not support factory farming. It’s good to be aware, but I don’t think enough questions are being asked. Do you really know where your food comes from? Did you know that Simple Truth is owned by Kroger and is not as “simple” as they make it seem? I think it’s also easy for people to advise others to cut out certain foods or buy organic. For larger families, this is tough because organic produce are more expensive than genetically modified produce. Humanely raised meat are even more expensive. This is a large part of why people choose to cut animal products completely out of their diet. The premium is too expensive and also too complicated. “USDA Organic” and the terms “natural” and “free range” mean nothing because it’s not 100%. It means something along the lines of chickens not necessarily enclosed in a small space, but a 16×16 pen. That doesn’t sound like a field to me.

 
So what can you do? Well, the easiest way is to cut out animal products and go vegan. Know your produce labels and ensure nothing is GMO. You don’t have to deal with the bullshit of micro-managing where your meat and produce comes from. Another way is to buy local. Eat Wild is a great source to find local farms. Plan B would be to frequent the Farmer’s Market and stock up on your vegetable and eggs. Do your research and find your local butcher shop (yes, those still exist). Or skip the mega supermarkets and go to my beloved Trader Joe’s, 365, or Whole Foods. Try to eat an indigenous diet as best as possible, meaning consuming food straight from nature and unprocessed. My rule of thumb when grocery shopping is to avoid the middle and frozen aisles.



Karma

 

Like I said in the beginning, I am not promoting a certain lifestyle. I’m implying that everyone can live to eat less animal products. Whether you believe anything on a spiritual level or not, there is karma in supporting industries that cause suffering upon other animals. It’s time to change the way we think about food.

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  • Comments

  • avatar
    The Sunday Mode

    I found this really interesting to read and to be honest I think it's nice to read a post centred around food that isn't strictly pro vegan or against veganism. I think when it comes to food it's also quite a difficult subject for a lot of people, because there's our ethical and spiritual values and then also for other people there is certainly an aspect of health and wellness. Personally I don't each much meat and in general I try to just listen to my body, but I do think that different things work for different people so I always try and keep an open mind and be consciously aware of where my food is coming from.

    http://www.thesundaymode.com

  • avatar
    Angela Liu

    I agree! I think people are always to quick to judge someone's diet. I even noticed with cookbooks, your diet is either vegan or not and there's nothing in between.

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