Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Reccomendation, a Discussion, and a Change

First thing first. If you have not yet seen Food, Inc. go. If you balk at paying $15 for a movie (and really, who doesn't?) plan on hosting a viewing party the minute it comes out on video. Those of you who are dyed-in-the-faux-wool vegans may argue that the film does not encourage people to go outright vegan and is therefore not helpful. However, the film talks about more than just animal agriculture, it is a larger discussion on our whole food system.

After much thought and research and discussion have reached something like homeostasis in my views on diet as it relates to my health, the environment, and ethics. I may lose some readers for saying this, but it is more important to me that I be sincere and forthright than to appease others. I am not opposed to responsible, sustainable animal agriculture. I am well aware of the arguments that there is no such thing. I disagree; people and animals have co-habitated and co-depended on one another for thousands of years. Our eco-systems are dependent on both fauna and flora inputs to be healthy. I am not under any illusions that will cease to be the case. I am adamantly opposed to industrial animal agriculture and I know that as a nation we eat entirely too many animal products. I believe that a plant-based diet, meaning consisting primarily of plants, is most definitely the healthiest, and most sustainable, way to eat. However, I don't think that advocating a vegan diet as the only option is the most efficacious way to encourage people to improve their health and that of the planet.

I aim to never stop learning, I am always reading, researching, browsing. At this point I find myself most in line with Michael Pollan's position of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." And more importantly with the position that we should endeavor not to eat that which our great-great grandmothers would not recognize as food (I'm perfectly willing to pretend that my great-great grandmother was quite the world traveler and ate foods from all cultures). That means that processed foods are out, including vegan processed foods. I think whole soy products in moderation are a perfectly healthful part of a varied diet. However the pervasiveness of soy derivatives (and corn derivatives for that matter) in our food supply concerns me. If your primary or sole motivation for being vegan is animal rights then I understand that veganism is essentially your only philosophical option. However, from the standpoint of health and environmental concerns I don't see a great deal of difference between eating fractionated "food like substances" (especially from GMO crops), vegan or otherwise, and eating conventionally raised animal products. They are both hard on our bodies, the environment, and the people involved in producing them.

This small but significant shift in my perspective has led me to reconsider my blog title. Firstly, I don't want to misrepresent the vegan community. Much of what I do eat is and will continue to be vegan, however I do incorporate some dairy and eggs into my diet. That combined with the broader focus I have take to include my path to simple, greener living has led to the choice to change my blog title (the actual web address will remain the same). I hope you find it informative and encouraging.