Speaking of taking care of yourself first so you have the energy and resources to serve others, I’ve been thinking a lot about veganism and vegetarianism lately. I know a number of people who are and have been for years. In fact my son has been mostly vegetarian since his college days after reading “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”
And recently I have begun to know people who are not only very strict in their discipline around a vegan diet but are also strong advocates of such, recommending it as a way to eat to save ourselves and the planet in the process. In fact some folks become so enthusiastic about their lifestyle and dietary choices that they almost become zealots, fundamentalists in their beliefs and political views on the subject.
I could say that some people even push my buttons on this subject. And I ask myself, “what are they mirroring for me that I need to examine closely?”
Examining this question took me all the way back to my childhood. I grew up on a small family farm in Wisconsin; and yes, it was a dairy farm. But we raised pigs, chickens, and sheep as well. For the most part we were a self-sufficient farm growing and raising much of our own food. Milk was the primary cash commodity and it all, but what we saved out for our personal use, went to a local factory that made cheese. Everything was pretty local in those days. We traded the eggs to the local grocery store for credit toward the things we didn’t raise or grow ourselves. We ate the extra roosters. We ate our own meat from pigs and steers we raised. So, I grew up with a lot of meat, milk, cheese, eggs; and when the local hunters helped thin out deer herds during hunting season we had venison as well.
I look back on this childhood with a great deal of fondness; I feel blessed to have been raised in the country with what then would have been the nearest thing to non-GMO, organic food we could have had from any source at any price – and it came from our “back-yard”!. We knew exactly where it all came from and what went into it.
Fast-forward about 60 years and it is hard to believe how things have changed! While some of the family farm remains right there in Wisconsin where I left it, much of the land has been sold to a “giant farm” following the trend everywhere to big-agri-business; the family farms of my youth are mostly gone. And I now live on the east coast with just enough garden for a few tomato plants. The nearest thing to small farming is the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) approach we have supported for the past few years. At least this way we are sourcing some of our produce locally; it’s fresh and organic and supporting a healthy way of life and a healthy planet!
My diet has changed too: for several years I have made my breakfasts and lunches in my Vitamix “super-blender” by creating a concoction of nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables; it’s all raw, as organic as I can find and it certainly qualities as vegan. I have lost a bit of excess weight, very gradually, while on this regimen, I have lots of energy, feel great and I believe I’m pretty healthy. And for dinner I often have a meat dish. I love cheese (here I don’t think I had a chance since from childhood I had more milk in my veins than blood!). And, while I’ve given up on chicken in my diet I still enjoy, now and then, a bacon-and-egg breakfast on a random weekend.
I am far from vegetarian, let alone vegan! And I am not sure I ever want or need to become a strict anything. I tend to avoid becoming a zealot about things in life.
That said I have asked myself if I need to look more closely into this mirror held up to me by those who are more zealous! Are we on an evolutionary path toward a meatless diet? Will this path, in part, be driven by realities of limited resources and over-pollution by the current approach by big-agri-business? Are we killing ourselves with GMOs? Can we rely on science and technology to continuously increase production of already strained resources?
And the real nagging question, because I want to think of myself as an evolutionary and cultural creative: “Is the New Human vegan?” I’d love to have your thoughts.