February 2, 2014

“Wait, That Healthy Nature Guy Eats Meat?” & Other Welcomed Judgments. ~ Keith M. Cowley

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Recently I have enjoyed an influx of articles floating around the social media scene regarding veganism and the vegetarian condition.

While they are all legitimate accounts of lifestyles, there are many perspectives on diet as it is a matter of intention, especially as we are all comprised of a different constitution when we come to the question of diet choice.

I know many vegans who live healthy lives and make healthy life choices. I also know a few distinct carnivores whose diet is richly comprised of meat, and who have exhibited a clean bill of health far further into their elder years than society would expect.

While I am not a carnivore, I do consciously consume a portion of meat in my foundational diet. Given my lifestyle as an internal arts instructor, wild forager and Nature lover, my food choices sometimes come as a surprise, and are occasionally met with harsh judgment.

However, I know that this judgment is part of an educational process for the critic. It also helps me refine my dialogue.

The following are the most common judgments I have learned to welcome:

Welcomed Judgment Number One:

never expected that you’d eat meat. You’re so health-conscious.

I am always taken aback when offered this misconception. Yet this admission is still one of progress. Due to the celebrity marketing of successful vegan/vegetarian lifestyles, many people have become aware of the food/health connection. What we consume ultimately influences our overall health.

Equally, so does that which we do not eat. It becomes integral for us to formalize our own opinions on what is important for our lifestyles. The first step is confronting our own judgments and misconceptions.

Like many political agendas designed to influence the masses, the shocking news revealed to a previously uninformed and unaware population regarding the unsavory state of the mass meat industry has inadvertently given all meat products a bad rap.

Confused consumers see yogis and internal practitioners boasting health-conscious lifestyles that swear off meat. Meat is evil. The meat industry is evil. Hunting is evil. And when I am confronted with, You eat meat?, it is as if to say, You are evil. But is there another lifestyle that exists for those who eat meat and are health-conscious?

Welcomed Judgment Number Two:

You shouldn’t eat meat. It’s modified and full of hormones.

I enjoy this blanket statement because, in the mind of the critic, they have yet to consider that I might know my meat choice more intimately.

In fact, I enjoy knowing exactly how and where my meat comes from.

It is a gift to receive a portion of meat from a local bowhunter who is thankful for his harvest. Furthermore, that hunter is humble and makes peace with the animal before accepting it in areas where forestry and wildlife management is a priority.

I know when I visit a Farmer’s Market to support a local grassfed farm that sustains a family and a locavore community that they gather their harvest as humanely as possible. They are accountable and accessible to my scrutiny.

There are ways to know where your food comes from and still enable a stand against the mass meat industry.

Welcomed Judgment Number Three:

How can you eat animals? Its murder.

Since animals share a similar biology, we naturally grant them human emotions and therein compassion as if they were indeed human. Meanwhile we clearcut trees and eat the (often modified) embryos of countless plant species.

If murder is the question, then we should question taking the lives of anything that grows, lives and ‘breathes’. Is it only okay to take the lives of the things that “don’t have feelings” or “cannot feel it”? If the tables were turned, as they have been in history, I would not blame a cougar for taking my life as a sampled food source in its environment.

The argument should, in my opinion, focus more on moderation as to not deplete the resources, always giving Nature the opportunity to return the lesson.

We are not the top species in the chain. Our actions as a whole have equal consequences in Nature. To be a part of that conversation, with my omnivorous palate, I am above and below no cuisine of the species. Each edible gift is an insight into the state of the animal kingdom, flora and fauna, keeping my mind open and aware. I also believe it ultimately influences my overall decision making in day-to-day life. When my palate is balanced—meat is generally only 15-20 percent of my diet—I believe my actions reflect balance.

Welcomed Judgment Number Four:

You don’t know where that came from, why are you eating it?

Finally, when I am cornered for eating restaurant cuisine or questionable edibles at a social gathering, I am humbled to express my interest in the communal experience, especially culinary arts. If diet is about intention, I intend to be adaptable to maximize my understanding and compassion for all life. Alienating myself from the general population due to diet choices is an elite process that does not sit well with me.

Everything in moderation.

My daily diet—which I refer to as my foundation—is a stable, balanced exploration of choices I have been involved in. I know where my foundational food comes from and why I am choosing it. The occasional social scenario will not affect my daily discipline.

I don’t eat chips and dip every day. This subtle moderated approach helps me identify the taste of the genetically modified and chemically altered. It makes for smoother transitions in the social world, as well as more welcomed educational conversations about diet perspective.

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Assistant Editor: Tifany Lee / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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