Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself – Michael Pollan
The quote above is #39 of Michal Pollan’s food rules. Now that I have new information, I would want to modify it. Instead I would say eat all the food you want as long as you make it from scratch. I can almost guarantee that you would eat less meat if you had to kill and process your animal by yourself.
I want to preface this by saying I have no agenda with writing this. I am only attempting to record my thoughts on this topic. I have been playing around with the idea of being a vegan for a while now. It started off as a challenge to develop my cooking style but it morphed into something else. Initially when I completed the water fast, I was sure that I wanted to stop eating meat. It was not really due to the ethical aspect but more do do with health reasons. I started to notice that my mental and physical health improved significantly when I would avoid my trigger foods (meat, spice, commercial white bread, processed foods, etc). As a side note, I actively avoid taking prescription drugs because I believe strongly that nature has the answer. I would be more inclined to drink tea or a eat a salad of herbs than take a synthesized pill.
Stefan a YouTuber I have followed for a while (mainly due to the experiences he shares about mental health), released a video titled Being vegan is not enough. Due to the fact that I am a proud consumer of YouTube content, I watch almost anything regardless of the message if any. Meat has never been a problem in my life really. I eat it and I have watched Cowspiracy, Vegucated, Forks over Knives, Fat sick & nearly dead (1&2) and a few other things here and there. Out of all those documentaries and short videos, nothings struck me as much as the video he linked to Earthling Ed about fur. I never really cared much about fur because at the moment I live in Nigeria and it is hot year round. If anything we are trying to find creative ways to wear the bare minimum. However seeing an animal that had its skin ripped off trying to stand up because it was skinned alive sobered me up real quick
I left a comment on Stefan’s video and I got a really generous reply that I was not expecting. Here is an excerpt of a few sentences that really stuck out from the reply.
We have no right, in my opinion, to decide who gets to live – and when they should die.
Murder, like rape, cannot be labeled as humane. It just doesn’t fit. It’s violent, and very messy.
Did you know that, at the rate we are emptying the Oceans, scientists estimate there will not be any fish left in just over 30 years? The population continues to grow… it spells bad news if we carry on as we always have.
Up until now, I have had the opportunity of living in the US, Qatar, France and Nigeria. I have also had the opportunity of visiting Spain, South Africa, Dubai, Germany and the UK. The reason I bring these places up is because of what I have noticed as far as the food culture goes. Out of these places, the most interesting by far has to be the US. When I am in the US, if there is meat at a dinner I attend, I will usually avoid it. I would also not cook meat from the store for myself to eat except if it is for a group of people and the reason is simple. The meat taste strange and it smells sterile. There are a few situations where I slip because I have been conditioned to eat meat but I really try to stick to this rule. There is something very synthetic about the look, taste and presentation of the meat in the stores.
I am only saying that because I am juxtaposing it with meat I eat in Nigeria. Usually in my household we select a cow or goat from a farm or purveyor we are familiar with and have it killed by a halal butcher. We usually witness it ourselves and are very much involved with the process of cooking every part of the animal. It only makes sense that you would eat every part of the animal as you decided to take its life. In most other Nigerian houses, they may not go to that extent, but the experience is similar. Meat is selected at the open market where you can smell it and see the bright color. The offal and the skin are very much a part of eating meat and it is not strange.
Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, halal, gluten free or whatever I really do not care where your diet falls on the spectrum. We (the majority of you reading this now) will live a life ridden with a preventable health challenge due to the food we consume daily and that is not just because of meat consumption. Also the ocean fish that are being eaten as you read this are on their way to becoming something that will only exist in aquariums. The estimation on this is 30 years. That means that the way floppy disks and CDs have just kind of disappeared, fish would do the same thing in our generation. Our grand children would only hear about seafood from the ocean as a random story grandpa or grandma always brings up.
This particular topic touched me for one small reason. I have willingly chosen cook for other people as a job. I have always considered cooks to have an important role in shaping the health of the world. Cooks are the middle men between farmers and consumers. Apart from feeing people education about the food we eat is just as important. Why are we eating livestock instead of insects? Why do we drink and eat the breast milk of a cow? Why is there corn in almost everything? How can food stay fresh for years in a package? Does the food I cook and eat align with my values?
There are many important questions that we should all be asking around one of the only constant questions in our lives. What am I going to eat?
If you read this to the end, I hope it exposed you to a different perspective on the food that we all eat. If you took nothing away from this, the next time you sit down to eat anything I would like you to ask yourself one simple question. Should I eat this even though I know it is edible?