My introduction to veganism was kind of traumatic. I was working for Whole Foods doing catering. The PETA people lobbied Congress twice a year with lunch that included the grossest of super-processed foods: not-dogs and tofurkeys. YUCK. But whatever, I was there to take the order and organize the pickup/delivery. Every interaction with these people included at least one tirade against consuming animal protein and diatribes about how evil human beings are. They were against eating honey because bees are enslaved to make it for us. Keeping pets was wrong because that was in some way cruel to the animals. They went on and on. They were zealots. It was so unpleasant dealing with them.
It didn't take long to figure out their agenda was really about denying themselves basic nutrition and the basic comfort of living with animals because they loathed humanity. They were all about self-punishment. God. Those people were nuts.
Fast forward a couple of years to a client who had switched to a vegan diet and felt really great as a result. She was early into it and very enthused. She decided her 14 year old daughter would also benefit. Things went downhill for the 14 year old quickly. Her grades plummeted, she couldn't think, she was tired all the time. When she stopped menstruating, the client took her daughter to a very kind doctor who suggested that she introduce eggs into the girl's diet. My client started eating eggs too. What a difference! They were both so much happier and energetic after that. More grounded. I wonder what they eat these days? That was a long time ago.
So, veganism and I did not get off on a good foot. I know not all vegans are self-loathing and fanatical. There are gentle people who eat their plants, and they're fine. They live and let live. The diet seems to work well for them. It's the supercilious, self-righteous vegans I am simultaneously worried about and annoyed by. I think the chronic whining might stem from the fact that they're hungry. People all around the world will eat bugs, worms, innards -- we'll eat anything to get some animals protein. We are built for it.
I was thinking yesterday that the Paleo people don't whine or deliver tirades. They talk about how good they feel, how strong and clear they are. They smile when they talk about what they eat. I think this is because they are well fed. It's a story we tell in the Reyaverse, anyway.
I've studied nutrition and tried many diets over the decades of my adult life. The "health food" of the 70s was the worst! OMG. Every kind of nut butter, 50-grain bread, honey, brown rice and sprouts on everything. I couldn't digest any of it. But it was supposed to be good for you.
Remember the 80s when we were supposed to eat tons of pasta and trans-fat? Carob everything. Oops. Mistakes were made.
Life is all about eating and being eaten. No wonder we think about it so much. I'm struck by how frequently hunger comes up in the fairy tales. Here is the take away from those stories: If someone offers you food and the food looks really delicious and you're really hungry: DO NOT EAT IT. You'll be sorry!! However, if some gnarly old lady comes up to you in the woods, and all you have left to eat is a stale crust of bread, YOU MUST OFFER IT. You will not regret it.
In American society in the 21st century, many of us have the luxury of choosing what we will and won't eat. We are so lucky! Though I cringe at veganism, I shouldn't single it out. The truth is, all diets are diets of privilege.
It's my privilege to eat real food that gives me energy, satisfies my hunger and tastes/smells delicious. I like a variety of foods, not too much of anything. I like to chew so I prefer food with texture and substance. This is why I'm not a fan of smoothies or juicing.
There are foods that are supposed to be good for me that make me queasy, tired and do not satisfy. I don't eat them. When I eat, I pay attention to how I feel while eating and afterwords. I listen to my body. The body never lies.