Tag Archives: food

Why vegetarian? A cultural journey.

vegeplate

He asked me, “why are you vegetarian?”  He wanted me to write an article to explain why.  He thought his magazine readers would  be intrigued by the combination of muslim name with vegetarianism. The latter is more associated with Hindu and Buddhist names in the subcontinent.

My vegetarian journey is all about belief.   Science tells me that, cognitively, the most important reason is because of my belief about myself.  I chose to think of myself as being vegetarian. Therefore, I mostly eat vegetarian.

Hang on, he objected, “Are you truly vegetarian, if you don’t eat only vegetables?”.  So, what is a vegetarian and how did I become  one?

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Water is vital for life; sugary drinks not.

“Please give us nothing but vegetables to eat & water to drink” Daniel 1:12

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.  Daniel 1:15 (~600BC)

The book of Daniel, is not your typical religious text. It’s part of the Old Testament; part I of the Christian Bible. (In case you don’t know, part 2, the New, is a glorious story of redemption or being saved which may or may not be metaphysical.  It’s so hard to know with words, but the words are indeed very useful.  Which is why they survived.)

The core of the Old Testament is the 5-book Torah given to us by Moshe, our Father.  With no archeological evidence for Moses, could he be a scientific created of the Egyptian elite?  The timing fits with the reign of Akhenaten, the only monotheistic Phaoroh. After him, they reverted to the traditional Egyptian gods.  The speculation is that the religious monotheists established Israel as a colony of Egypt, allowing them to live in peace but away from the new regime of polytheism.

In contrast, Daniel reports a historical character. Like Jesus, Daniel’s story was written long after his death; in Daniel’s case hundreds of years.  The value of both stories is to remind of us deep spiritual and practical truths.  Such as diet health, and feeding our microbiota (bugs).  Eat your vegetables; don’t drink sugary drinks!

I found this pictures on Wikipedia; I hope they don’t mind me using it.  It highlights the simple but hard act of self-denial.  Rejecting sensual pleasure over health.  And his fellows behind him in the portrait show that that Daniel did not do this by himself.  We act best as teams.  And perhaps the result is the ability to go to the lion’s den, by himself.

Are you interested in following Daniel’s dietary advice, and tell me upon its impact on your health?  If so, the first step is: who is the team that will help you?   How can I help you?

And if you have the time, have a look at this project on vaccines as an educational tool.  And why am i vegetarian?.

Eating together: less cooking, more health and connection

Why is the standard unit for eating the household?  We have institutions that provide food to its inmates.  Sadly, the government just blocked a proposed law to provide breakfast and lunch for those who go to schools serving the poorest fifth of New Zealand children.  This is despite the OECD having advised that more redistribution of income would be good for the overall economy.

The primary concerns of maximising our time and our health are at a trade-off. We can optimise this by reducing the time we spend on preparing food.  If you are rich, you can employ people to provide you food.  (And we can all indulge in this luxury for one meal when we go to a restaurant).  But is there a community-wide way to reduce time in food preparation while improving the nutrition, and hence the health of the population?  If so, this would save all of us money, by reducing the burden of disease that we all pay for through our national health system.

Community kitchens provide food as a safety net to the homeless.  One reason for eating at home, is its convenience.  But if food could be provided as cheaply, as tasty, and also more healthy   – eating in a communal setting would meet many needs; especially for those with the least resources of both time and health.

Mass food production is usually with food that has had its nutrients processed out and additives to enhance taste or shelf life.  While this has provided cheap and tasty food, the adverse health consequences are increasing important as diet-related diseases account for large and increasing public health costs.  The other key aspect here, is that the food industry is such a massive enterprise.  Perhaps, the most powerful lobby in the US.

Can we change from food industry to food for health?  Can we develop communal eating options that can meet the needs of most people?  Perhaps the real question is why don’t we?