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Truth

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“You want answers?

"I want the truth!"

“You can’t handle the truth!”

 

Let’s imagine a perfect world, where all our needs are met, free from inequities and corruption, from suffering and want.  A transparent world.  An ideal world.  A veritable expression of mankind’s noblest nature.

But we know better than to revel too long upon ideals.  Life shocks us from such sentiment.  From the beginning, we are born into the obscene blinding light of reality.  Perversely ironic, our first cries signal our vitality.  We learn quickly, by way of life “lessons”, that ideals have an elusive nature, dangling like carrots and brass rings beyond the cusp of grasping.  We strive in vain for some tangible gain; but that which is tangible is intangible, and so, once grasped, falls precipitously between our fingers.

Disenchanted by the promise of things, we cast our eyes downwards — the solid earth, rich and repugnant, reflects our shadowy image skulking away from the blinding light of truth that burns within.  We can avert our eyes, turn away and forget, but truth, like early morning light, percolates and spreads, and we are exposed by it, or by contrast to it, to live like a bird or live like a bat, to see by light or by the shade of night, the orientation of all things resides within.

 

What does the treatment of sentient animals – human and non-human – say about our humanity?

To perhaps elucidate this ontological question, Daniel Imhoff, in his beautifully written essay, CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, quotes Gandhi, “The measure of a society can be how well its people treat its animals.”  

But the staggering pace of global population growth, coupled with the world’s increased appetite for animal food products of all kinds, and the industrialization of agriculture in a free market, espouses a corporate-driven factory framework of mass-produced livestock increasingly dominated by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and intensive livestock operations (ILOs in Canada).

“In a CAFO, animals are concentrated in unnaturally high stocking rates by the thousands or tens of thousands and under unnatural conditions, often unable to breathe fresh air, see the light of day, walk outside, peck at plants or insects, scratch the earth, or eat a blade of grass. They are fed a high-calorie grain-based diet (sometimes including reclaimed animal manure, ground-up fish, or recycled animal parts) designed to maximize growth and weight gain in the shortest amount of time.” (Imhoff)

The economic objectives of corporate agribusiness, an industry controlled by dominant multinationals, endorse unethical farming practices and often act with impunity.  Never before in history has domesticated livestock been as cruelly confined or slaughtered in such massive quantities. (Imhoff)

This leads me back to my former question: What does the treatment of sentient animals – human and non-human – say about our humanity?  

David Imhoff explores this line of inquiry further,

“Clearly, the ways in which we produce our food define us as a culture and as human beings. The subject forces us to ask big questions: How did we arrive at this place where the very foundation of human society—secure and sustainable food production—has become so far removed from caring farmers and the cycles of nature? What are our ethical responsibilities as eaters, citizens, and producers in reforming a food production system that is so clearly in need of change? ”

Food for thought.  And while I continue to examine the food on my plate, the stuff in my head, I encourage you to watch the video and “meet your meat”, lest you shall be shocked by the obscene blinding light of truth.

Desire

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What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning. — Charlie Chaplin

Sexy Red Heels…  Absolutely nothing practical about these babies.  They hurt to dance, to walk, to stand still.   But nonetheless, I wanted them.  They spoke to me. Seduced my senses.

Similarly, the sweetly marinated, fall-of-the-bone, BBQ’d baby back ribs my girlfriend prepared for me also aroused a carnal appetite.  Sure, I had a solemn moment for Porky before I ravished the succulent meat, but the truth is, Porky never had a chance.  I could not resist.  Any remnant of guilt dissolved blissfully in the intoxicating stream of robust Red that flooded my throat.

Truth be told, weekday vegetarianism is really just a cleverly crafted scheme I’ve devised to placate my health-conscious wits without compromising too much.  I can sit comfortably on the fence while I contemplate and rationalize the varying degrees of health conscious eating.  What can I say – I want it all.  And too many restrictions are never much fun.  And yet, to some degree, the highest quality of living, is, in my opinion, best finessed with an adequate measure of self-discipline.

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” – Napoleon Hill

While it may seem that our desires, our longings and cravings, are often at odds with our rational mind, they are in fact galvanizers of the same pursuit: self-perpetuation.  Desire is a vital force, an impetus for living life to the fullest.   We crave, and yearn, and wish, and these imaginings embolden our quest for a rich and illustrious life.

If desire has a bad rap it is no less due to fear.  Fear of our primal, sensual nature – a large extent of who we are – shouldn’t be feared or repressed at all, but rather, harnessed; and employed as the driving force of self-perpetuation.  Mediated by the parameters of reason, we can exhume those otherwise repressed elements of our nature to embolden our quest for self-discovery, and optimize our potential for growth.  We can, as if by way of alchemy, transmute baser metals into gold.

Elevating our most primal instincts, urges and desires, as a rational pursuit requires an artful balance of moderation.  But let’s face it, moderation is no small feat!  The idea that ‘moderation is key’ is thrown around like a religious rite.   And yet, the subjective nature out of which the idea of moderation arises suggests that one person’s moderation is another person’s excess, is another person’s lack of.

Moderation is, in my opinion, the artful balance of carnal desires and reason, each kept in check with a good measure of self-discipline.

Whether we are responding to carnal urges, an insatiable appetite, ingrained ideologies, greed or gluttony – overindulgence is bound to tip the scales and tax our wellbeing.  And when the scales do tip, reexamine, readjust, and recommit.  A health-conscious lifestyle is best adopted if it is flexible and forgiving.

So, while I work to become more conscious of the food on my plate, the stuff in my head, and the sensual cravings of my tongue, I will continue to moderate my consumption of meat, and perhaps wine, and maybe some other things as well, resting on the idea that a little moderation allows for a good dose of fun!

The art of eating, is after all, the art of living.



Taofu

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“Don’t seek the truth.  Just cease to cherish opinions.”

While I tucked into a juicy sirloin, complimented by a tender fresh salad of springtime leaves and Oka cheese, and sipped on a glass of Kim Crawford, its sweet honeyed-peach nectar lingering on my tongue, my mind wandered to green pastures soaked in sun and dew.  Like the delicate balance of delights before me, so too is Nature – her bounty bearing forth sumptuous offerings.  

Gratitude.

In this moment, everything seemed just how nature intended it.  But compare the position of carnism rendered in my last post, that states that eating meat is not natural at all, but rather the result of an invisible ideology we invoke to justify the violent and exploitative treatment of “other sentient beings”.  Meat-eating, according to the tenets of carnism, requires that we divorce ourselves from the reality that animals, whose bodies are used for meat, eggs and dairy, live and die in misery. We block our awareness and empathy toward others.  We become impervious to the truth.

I do have a conscience for the facts – it’s devastating to think that the majority of  meat, eggs, and dairy that is consumed comes from CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), in which thousands of animals are crammed together in filthy and unhygienic conditions. Such treatment is despicable.  Certainly not how Nature intended it?

And yet, for argument’s sake, I could just as readily reason that the state of mankind and the conditions of the planet, with all its suffering and destruction and inequities, certainly is not how Nature intended it.

Or maybe it is.

Perhaps, everything is just as it should be.

I’m not impervious to the truth because I choose to eat meat.  There are no absolute truths.  The mind, which is in a constant state of flux, creates perceptions hinged on a subjective reality.  Truth, as I know it to be, is a mental construct: a carnist rationalizes the deplorability of meat-eating; and a meat-eater extolls the merits. These differing ideologies stem from innate belief systems.  And that which is innate, is natural.

Healthy Gal, impetus for change!  Toggling different sides of the same coin:  weekday vegetarianism and weekend carnism.  Examining the food on my plate, the stuff in my head, and the the Art of Eating.



Carnism

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Healthy Gal on a mission!   Re-examing and reconsidering the food on my plate.  Taking my understanding of health-conscious to new heights.
 
Week two as a self-proclaimed weekday vegetarian.  I have reduced my meat intake by  70% and I feel great!   Still not budging on the weekday wine though…
 
 I recently came across the following quote and it inspired me to dig deeper, heat things up a bit, add some fuel to the fire folks…
 
 “It is absurd that we eat pigs and love dogs and don’t even know why. Many of us spend long minutes in the aisle of the drugstore mulling over what toothpaste to buy. Yet most of don’t spend any time at all thinking about what species of animal we eat and why. Our choices as consumers drive an industry that kills ten billion animals per year in the United States alone. If we choose to support this industry and the best reason we can come up with is because it’s the way things are, clearly something is amiss. What could cause an entire society of people to check their thinking caps at the door–and to not even realize they’re doing so? Though this question is quite complex, the answer is quite simple: Carnism.”

–Melanie Joy, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others

A friend of mine once had a pot-bellied pig for a pet.  He was rather cute – the pig, not my friend – and quite sloppy too.  Like a toddler, the pig always seemed to have snot running from his noes that hung in long mucousy strings.  This snorty, snotty, sneezy little creature sloshed his food and water around when he ate and snored loudly when he slept.  He also came when you called and strolled the boulevard alongside without a leash.  He would nudge you for attention, and climb into your lap and bury his head and fall asleep.  Intelligent animals, a pig can be trained much like a dog.

So this has got me thinking, why do we eat the flesh of some animals and not others?  What drives our decisions?  What shapes our perceptions and beliefs?

Carnism is the invisible belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals.  Whether consciously or not, we all bring our beliefs about eating the flesh of animals to the dinner table.  The proverbial dinner table – a symbolic link to our past, to family, to nourishment, to ritual – resonates at a very personal level.  It is of no wonder that we feel very attached to the choices we make, for these choices stem from a innate belief system originating at birth.  Not so much what we eat, but how we eat, the very experience of eating – the feelings and sensations, the social atmosphere – rouse our most native memories, shape our identity, and distinguish our relationship to food.

I recently read an article featured on GOOD (like it on facebook),  and the senior editor, Cord Jefferson, offers this story to further exemplify Carnism:

“Imagine that you’re a guest at a dinner party and you’re eating a delicious beef stew. It’s so delicious, in fact, that you ask your host for the recipe. Flattered, she replies, “The secret is in the meat: You need to start out with three pounds of well-marinated golden retriever.” 

Well now that’s disgusting.  But however improbable this may seem, in some cultures this may well be the norm, not to mention a delicacy.  It’s our perception that certain animals are justifiably more natural for consumption than others, Porky rather than Lassie, for instance.

Carnism further expounds that we are all born into a carnistic culture, and thereby assimilate the attitudes and practices that condition us to eat certain animals.  Our dominant logic therefore becomes, “I am eating food”, rather than “I am eating another sentient mammal.”

It follows then that we need to ask ourselves: Is eating meat a bona fide choice, essential to our health and survival?

Because according to Carnism, “Carnivores are animals that are dependent on meat to survive … Carnists eat meat not because they need to, but because they choose to, and choices always stem from beliefs.”   Therefore, it is inaccurate to refer to ourselves as a Carnivore because we eat-meat.  Unlike animals for whom the term is suited, humans have the capacity to contemplate, to reason, to make conscious-driven choices.

Anyway, food for thought…

So in the meantime, whilst chewing on the cud of deep contemplation, tonight I will be making a pizza of splendid array, recipe compliments of Mr. Fed Up.  This one calls for turkey, but for now, I will substitute with roasted red pepper and potato – finely diced , warmly spiced, with a kick of curry powder.  Take one look at this devilish delight, better yet, take one bite, and tell me again how a meal without meat isn’t satisfying.

If You Don’t Eat Your Meat You Can’t Have Any Pudding. How Can You Have Any Pudding If You Don’t Eat Your Meat?!

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Let me answer your compelling question Mr Waters with an equally compelling response – I can eat the pudding if I damn well please because there is no meat to eat!!!  And, if truth be told, Day 4 no meat is not going any better than Day 1. Sweets have replaced meat.  And I am surreptitiously falling into the carb-trap, soon to join the leagues of Oreo eaters (a vegan option btw) informally referred to as…Junk-food Vegetarians *gasp*. Yes, I’m afraid it’s true, this is what I’ve become. Ease and convenience, coupled with lack of knowledge has reduced me to this.

But I will not be discouraged.

And my ultimate goal of healthful and sustainable eating will not be derailed.  First rule of order is to stem my intake of empty carbs, the tank is low, and I seriously need to refuel. Thank God it’s the weekend: I can further ponder my meal options with some cured chorizo and well aged cheese.

  For this my friends, is the art of eating I know so well.

Vegetarian or by some other name

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Oh wow!  Apparently Vegetarianism is more than just ideology, but rather a conscious driven choice – the inspiration of which is as varied as its practice and principles.  I had better get informed or my capricious fashioning of the conceit is going to ruffle some feathers.

Ok, let’s see, there are varied degrees of Vegetarianism, listed from most restrictive to least restrictive: vegan, lacto-vegetarianism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, pescatarians, and flexitarians.  Flexitarian seems a good place to start on a whim.  Nothing too radical here, I just minimize my meat intake, perhaps weekends only, and Voila!  I’m a a real deal Flexitarian, booyah!


Day 1 Vegetarian

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Day 1 Vegetarian not going so good. As I stood in the grocery aisle and considered the sprouted soy beans, tofu, tempeh – squishy little packages of alien meal – I thought, what the hell am I going to do with this?!

Recalling the warm advice of friends, I pondered the nutritional benefits of hemp vs chia, sprouted vs shelled, fermented vs non processed. And, in moment of complete desperation, I called a friend and we met to discuss the health benefits of blowing a ton of cash at Whole Foods over deep-fried calamari and beer…Um, so technically I haven’t blown it yet, right?

To be continued…

Healthy Gal Impetus for Change!

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I’m a rather healthy gal…I pride myself on my ability to enjoy life to the fullest.  I place great emphasis on nourishing my 3-fold self: I’ve been reading some cool stuff on Biocentricism, and I recently revamped my fitness training program.  But somewhere along the lines I’ve become complacent with my eating habits.  I feel it’s time to shake things up a bit – reexamine my current food choices, and explore new ones.

This may seem all rather ambitious for a Sunday morning curled on the couch nursing a hangover; but sometimes great inspiration can come at the least inspired times, and on this particular morning I feel ready for change!  Maybe I should cut out wine?  Oh, let’s not be so hasty, I will cut out meat instead.  Easy enough, right?