My family’s recent decision to stop eating just about all animal based food is part of a small but growing trend in this country. While still largely considered wacky and fringe, plant-based diets are drawing a great deal of attention in the mainstream media. Probably because the mainstream media loves the wacky and the fringe.
We made this choice because we are convinced, based on science, that this diet is the only way to achieve the health goals we have set out which are:
1) Maintain a total cholesterol of less than 150.
2) Live forever.
We are somewhat flexible on 2.
Since making this change, we have had a lot of conversations with people who are just curious about it, some who want to try it, and some who are hostile toward it. There are a few common threads in those conversations, and here are my responses.
First: We are not vegans. Our family stopped eating all meat, eggs, and dairy. We still eat honey, and we wear wool hats, and leather shoes and so on. Vegans do none of those things, eschewing all use of animals whether for food or not.
Second: We did not make this choice as a political statement, and we did not do it to show you how superior we are to you. While I oppose the inhumane treatment of other animals at the hands of their human cousins, I do not oppose killing animals. In fact, I decline to try to tally all the animals I have killed with my own hands because they were sick or injured, and I do not lose a moment’s sleep over it. If an animal is killed quickly and humanely for someone to make into supper, it bothers me not at all. It’s just not going to be my supper.
Third: Yes, I am aware that bacon/cheese/butter taste good.
Fourth: If you want to try doing it, do it. I’m really bored of hearing, “Oh, I could never give up cheese/bacon/butter.” After all, I know I’m pretty awesome, but I’m not so much awesomer than you that I can do it but you just can’t.
The New York Times Well Column ran a piece on the many, many, apparently insurmountable obstacles to giving up animal based foods. The message appeared to be, “It’s hard, and people will think you’re weird. So it’s totally not worth it.” I have a hypothesis though. Every single thing you’ve ever really wanted in your life, that really, really mattered to you, was somehow challenging. Outside your comfort zone, to speak in the common vernacular. Here are some examples of diffcult things and weird things that are most important to me:
1) My husband and I have been together since we were 14. No, we never broke up, even for a day. (weird, not difficult)
2) I learned hypnobirthing so I could have my second son without drugs, yet without pain. (weird and difficult)
3) I went to veterinary school and got myself a degree. (very weird, and very difficult)
4) Took up running and ran two half marathons in the past year even though no one was chasing me. (difficult, potentially weird)
5) Balancing work that I love with time with my kids. (difficult, and my work is weird)
What they all have in common is that they are things that mattered to me enough not to give up when people looked at me funny, or rolled their eyes, or made snide remarks. This diet we’re on is the same. I believe this is our best shot at avoiding the early diseases and deaths of our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. If you don’t believe the same, that’s fine with me. Believe it or not, I don’t care what you eat. Just don’t assume it’s impossible. It’s possible. And you might even like it. I like it even more than I liked bacon and cheese. Which was very, very much.
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