I became a vegetarian over 30 years ago, based on an inner, intuitive feeling that this was the right way for me. There was not that much information available on the subject back then, especially in
, and the truth is that I did not bother too much about searching for it. Somehow, I reached the notion that nuts are rich in protein (I did not hear about fats), and they became a major part of my diet. I still have a strong appreciation of nuts. Only a couple of years later, when I attended graduate school in the US, did I actually read a book on nutrition, which was offered for free outside a used book store in Santa Barbara, where I was studying. Since then, I have read quite a bit on the subject of food and nutrition, both from the theoretical side, and the practical aspects (as in cooking), but when asked for the reasons for being vegetarian, I continued to claim that it was based on a intuitive feeling. Israel
In the past 2 years I have converted to an almost wholly vegan diet. Later, after meeting various people, and reading books, such as “Conscious Eating”by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, I decided to try following a mainly raw food diet. Following this process, I also restated my reasons for my diet, as well as my general lifestyle.
I will start with a few definitions:
Vegetarian: does not eat any flesh products. Therefore someone who eats fish, may be eating a healthier diet, but is not a vegetarian. However they can eat eggs and diary products (at least unfertilized eggs, such as we get in the store).
Vegan: Will not eat any animal products. This includes eggs and diary, and usually any other animal based food, such as honey.
Raw food: Will not eat any food heated to temperatures above 46-48C. I will write about the many variations on this definition in a future post, but will usually be vegan.
|A raw food dish|
Personally, I am aiming for a vegan, 80% raw diet at present. However, I try not to be too “religious”on this subject, and when visiting friends or family, I will gladly enjoy the pleasures of a tasty cake, even though it may have eggs or butter in it.
I have often been asked for the reasons for my diet. For me, there are three circles which have influenced my decisions. I will label them as Man, Nature and Animal.
The Circle of Man:
In this circle I relate only to myself, out of pure self interest. I am interested in my health, my vitality. As Albert Einstein wrote: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.". Meat, especially meat grown in today’s industrial manner, is full of all kinds of additives, antibiotics, hormones and more. It is very doubtful that these add to our health. Indeed we see phenomena such as girls reaching puberty at age 3, as described in “My Year of Meats”.
Fish, though they are supposedly healthier suffer from increased pollution of oceans and rivers. Much has also been written on the problems associated with milk products, such as increased mucus, and the respiratory problems associated with this, as well as the antibiotics, pesticides and hormones found in milk products.
In conventional medicine it is often claimed that we will not fill all our nutritional requirements without meat or diary. However, more and more doctors and health experts are becoming aware that if we choose our food in a conscious manner, we can easily get all that we need from a vegan diet (except for vitamin B12, which is often also deficient in meat eaters). Personally, I can say that at the age of 53 I find myself full of energy and vigour, walking long distances with 20 year old friends, or running marathons.
The Circle of Nature:
Back in the 80s, Francis Moore, in “Diet for a small planet” claimed that we need to produce 10 kg of plants in order to eat 1 kg of meat. This, without mentioning the fuel required to transport these plants, the pollution of our water supplies from animal waste (which is a major source of water pollution in the world), the effect on the ozone layer, the effect on global warming and so on. In this context, I will add the claim that if Americans lowered their present meat consumption by just 20%, the food surplus would be enough to feed all the starving people in the world.
The Circle of Animals:
All we need is to pass 100 meters away from an industrial chicken coop to smell the terrible stench. The hens live in this terrible smell all their lives, often having their nostrils burned by the acid fumes. Cows also live in terrible conditions, eating their own waste, and additives made of bones which have caused diseases such as the Mad Cow Disease. This without mentioning the way they are slaughtered, which is full of pain and cruelty. I find it hard to subject animals to such a life of misery and sorrow. Incidentally, I also do not want to ingest this pain, along with the physical body.
In summary, I can only say that each of us has the privilege and duty of choosing how they proceed in this world. I can only suggest that each of us investigate, research and finally follow his heart in choosing the proper path for them.
And, if we are looking into nutrition and dietary choices, then we need to be involved with the practical aspects as well, namely food preparation. I will present a simple yet tasty recipe from the world of raw foods (note that some of the spices are not raw)
|Zucchini carrot pasta|
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP raw tahini
1 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
2 TBSP brewer’s yeast (not essential, but gives a cheesy flavour)
Cut the carrots and zucchini into narrow strips using a mandoline or peeler. Put in a bowl. Mix the ingredients of the sauce in a jar and pour over the vegetables. It is best to let them stand for an hour so that they absorb the taste. Note that one can play with the quantities of the ingredients, based on taste, and also be creative – add or remove ingredients, to create your own version.