How much of your time do you think about what you’re eating?
Do you ever think about the impact your food choices have on the environment?
One unique challenge I have is that I’m a vegan in the South . While eating a healthy diet has become a lifestyle for me, it’s sometimes viewed as offensive by local restaurateurs. Vegetarian, or even remotely healthy, options are few and far between at the typical “mom and pop” restaurants. Any chains have healthy options ordered so infrequently that when they are ordered oftentimes the ingredients are freezer-burned, expired or out of stock, or the kitchen simply doesn’t know how to prepare them. I could tell you horror stories here, but let’s just clarify: bacon does not count as a vegetable, nor does cheese, and thank you so very much for carefully hiding that pepperoni under the tomatoes on my pizza.
While it may seem like a “first world problem” to be frustrated when served meat, dairy and eggs when they are explicitly stated that I do not want them; I feel like I should give you some background. Whenever I would eat a meal it was “normal” for me to lay in the fetal position on the couch until the heartburn or gas subsided. This made mealtimes stressful and awful. Food was my enemy and I didn’t know how to combat it other than to take a pill. Omitting dairy and meat (and eventually eggs) from my diet was not only necessary; it freed me from feeling like I was trapped by food. I had more energy, heartburn was a thing of the past and I was healthier and lost the weight I had gained in college. Now, I’m not one of those evangelical vegans who will insist that you read Skinny Bitch or become a member of PETA, but I do encourage you to take a good look at what you put into your body. You may be surprised how much your diet really does impact everything about your life.
That old, “You are what you eat,” adage? It’s true.
Think about it: if the foods that you consume contain synthetic dyes, hormones, excessive fats, sugars, salt and preservatives… you’re probably going to end up feeling pretty gross after you eat that meal. Additionally thinking a little bit about where your foods come from (“Did an animal suffer to produce this meal?” or “How far did this have to travel before arriving on my plate?”) makes you a more conscious consumer. So what does this have to do with philosophy?
“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”
–Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)
Here are five reasons why being a vegan can clarify your thoughts and allow you to be a better philosopher:
1. A diet with variety will never leave you bored.
According to the Vegetarian Resource Group the key to a healthy vegan diet is variety. Lots of color, lots of sources (grains, fruits, beans, nuts, vegetables, leafy greens) and lots of flavor. Vegans (and omnivores alike) are also encouraged to get ten to fifteen minutes of sun on the hands and face two to three times a week in order to get the requirement of Vitamin D. The sun makes us all a little happier!
2. A vegan diet will allow you to hone your ethical skills.
Ethics are a hugs aspect of considering a vegan diet. If not for the health benefits, choosing a vegan diet can also allow you to formulate ideas and arguments that support and protect all creatures on the planet. Peter Singer’s The Ethics of What We Eat is a primary example of a philosopher examining the ethical dilemma we face with food choices.
3. A vegan diet will allow you to explore the foods and customs of other cultures and countries.
Indian, Afghan, Greek, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian… all delicious options that have plentiful vegan options. Eating a vegan diet will force you to eat outside your comfort zone and allow you many new experiences, flavors and cultures.
4. You will have more energy and brain-power to devote to thinking.
So-called “brain foods” make up a significant portion of the vegan diet. Brain foods such as:
Nuts, Mushrooms, Onions, Millet, Grapefruit
5. You won’t be alone ordering from the vegan menu.
Many noted philosophers and thinkers (including, but not limited to: Plato, Pythagoras, Ghandi, Tolstoy, Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci) were vegan or vegetarian.
What is the biggest obstacle you face when considering a vegan lifestyle?