Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan

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August 2007
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I'm thrilled to report that another voice has just pierced the "sustainable/humane meat" illusion - and what a voice! B.R. Myers, a book critic for the Atlantic Monthly magazine, has written a fiercely honest criticism of Michael Pollan’s book in the September 2007 issue of the magazine, and I read it here. It’s called "Hard to Swallow: The gourmet’s ongoing failure to think in moral terms." Myers adeptly scrutinizes Pollan’s bogus arguments, chews them up, and spits them out. Though the doublespeak of such "excuse-itarians" as Michael Pollan has always been very clear to me, it was incredibly satisfying to have a respected writer agree that Pollan’s justifications leave as bitter a taste in his mouth as they do in mine. And to have it published in a magazine such as The Atlantic gives me great reason for hope. (See previous podcast episode called "The Rise of the Excuse-itarians.")

Direct download: pollan.mp3
Category:Food, Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:11am PDT
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Many a vegetarian has been on the receiving end of jokes, jibes, digs, insensitive quips, and cruel comments, and though it can be hard not to take it personally, the truth is all of these insensitive reactions have nothing to do with you. They reflect a resistance on the part of the non-vegetarian to take an honest and thoughtful look in the mirror held up for them. Though meat-eaters may feel as though they're being judged or made to feel guilty, it's often just a matter of the vegetarian reflecting back his or her own truth and compassion. But vegetarians don't get off the hook that easily. As much as we each have own process and transition to work through as we experience our own awakenings, we have to honor the transition of the people with whom we share our lives. Even though we may feel completely changed, we may forget to look at how our changes are affecting our partner. As much as we want him or her to be understanding and compassionate, we have to provide the same compassion and understanding.

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This episode debunks the claim that a "vegan diet is more expensive than a non-vegetarian diet" by looking at a cost comparison of the equivalent amount of animal versus plant protein, by looking at the government subsidies that make food artificially cheap, and by looking at costs that go beyond mere dollars: those of the environment, the lives of the animals, our health, and our peace of mind. I also offer some thoughts about why it's no harder for a person of 75 to change her habits than it is for a person of 20.

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Now that I'm vegan, what do I do with my leather couch, my leather shoes, and my wool sweaters? What should I do with the meat and other animal-based products in my kitchen? How do I know about animal-derived ingredients on food labels? Can I still call myself "vegan" if I eat something like honey? These are some of the questions that arise for people who find themselves newly conscious of animal suffering and who don't want to participate in it. And these are also some of the issues that deter people who may be interested in "becoming vegan" but who think it would be too difficult or who think they have to live up to some kind of "vegan perfection." Join me as I address these concerns and offer some suggestions for the practical aspects of living a compassionate lifestyle.

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