Some reasonable talk on eating

posted by Joshua on December 9, 2011 in Blog, Nature
6 responses

A movie I saw recently called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (view for free here, view trailers here) struck a chord and got me thinking more about food recently, and buying and eating more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables than ever. So I’ll post a few posts on food and diet.

The last time I intentionally ate meat was the spring of 1989. Occasionally someone brings me a turkey burger when I order a veggie burger and I accidentally eat some or a bug flies down my throat when I’m running, but I don’t count things that happen without intent.

People who eat meat can get weird about people not eating meat sometimes. I’m sure from their perspective they seem normal and people who don’t eat meat seem weird, but I don’t remember how I looked at people who didn’t eat meat when I ate meat.

People often ask why I don’t eat meat. To me, it’s both a weird question and annoying. Weird because I don’t feel like I have reasons. I just eat what I like and don’t what I don’t. How can I explain that? And doesn’t everyone do the same?

(Unfortunately, I find that many people don’t eat what they like and not what they don’t, which is deep and deeply sad. I hope to come back to that point in this series of posts.)

The question annoys me sometimes because sometimes I’ll get asked several times a day. Over the course of a few decades, getting asked the same question approximately daily can bore you. I also think a lot of people don’t think about asking. They just ask on auto-pilot and don’t care about the answer.

Most annoying is that a lot of people, upon hearing my answer, argue against it. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say they consider trying to change someone an enjoyable, effective pastime, yet there they go, trying to argue what for me seems a matter of taste, not logic, anyway.

They often look for a consistency nobody practices with respect to anything, least of all themselves and their eating habits if only they looked inwardly as skeptically as they do outwardly. They want to point out the bee parts in honey or something like that, yet discount the inconsistencies of their practices.

Over the years, conversations about eating habits have taught me tolerance probably more than any other type of conversation. I recognize through the early 90s my attempts to convince others contributed to more than a few arguments.

By now I don’t try to change other people. I simply state my practices and tell others I don’t care what they do. For most that suffices. Some can’t help themselves and can’t stop themselves from arguing.

Eventually you find others haven’t learned the lesson you have and find they want to change you. Or have you acknowledge they are right and you are wrong or ignorant.

Realizing your social skills have surpassed another’s, at least in being able not to start pointless, unwinnable arguments has its pros and cons. Sometimes you can’t stop someone from arguing with you, no matter how you try to avoid judging or arguing.

A lot of people who eat meat view people who don’t as considering themselves better. Many people consider not eating meat somehow morally superior — I think mainly meat eaters, who seem frustrated about it. They seem to want to take you down a notch, attacking you for things you never communicated or felt.

Personally I don’t see any rightness or wrongness — just matters of taste and consistency with one’s values. Still, some people seem to feel threatened.

Follow-up posts on food and eating:

Learn to make Meaningful Connections

with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.

Including

  • Step by step instructions
  • Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
  • An excerpt from my book

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6 responses on “Some reasonable talk on eating

  1. I remember your food arguments in the 1990s and yes, it is clear that the fact that you no longer argue about food says a lot not only about your tolerance, but also the futility of trying to persuade others, and yes, indicates higher social skills.

    I have always felt that there are three reasons to eat a plant-based diet: don’t kill an animal, better for the universe (more effective to eat plants than to feed them to animals, which we then eat), and for one’s health. Until recently, I was not persuaded to make dietary changes, only to buy organic produce and meat-based products that were farm raised. Essentially, I continued eating as I did as a child.

    My thinking radically changed when I read THE CHINA STUDY by Dr. Thomas Campbell and Colin Campbell. Summarizing 40+ years of research, Dr. Campbell concludes that worldwide cultures eating plant-based diets do NOT get cancer, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. They will have parasites, pneumonia, tuberculosis, rheumatic heart disease, etc.

    As a child, Dr. Campbell grew up on a farm as I did. We farmers were intimately involved in the life cycle of the animals that we fed and ate. Our chickens ate our food scraps, and we gathered their eggs. When the hen stopped laying, we stewed her for dinner. My sister milked the cow morning and night, and we drank the milk. We gardened all spring, summer and fall, and froze and canned as many plants as we could, to last through the winter. However, my dad did find it difficult to butcher the calf that he had fed and talked to for a year, so he sold it to buy anonymous meat.

    Of course, we all recognize that the outcome of life is death; however, as Dr. Campbell observes, “Good health is about being able to fully enjoy the time we do have. It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives and avoiding crippling, painful and lengthy battles with disease. There are many better ways to die, and to live.”

    After reading this book, we decided to enter our plant-based food era. We have finished our last carton of eggs. We have only a few ounces of cheese left in the cheese drawer, and a few containers of soups made with meat in the freezer.

    We hope that our social skills will reflect tolerance for the [unhealthy] choices of others around us. Thanks for your post.

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