I was thinking about food this morning…and what to blog about, when, by divine intervention, the idea was handed to me in the form of a Sunday morning magazine program.
A friend called me, screaming,’ Turn on the t.v. There’s a vegan firefighter!!!!’ Ah, I thought to myself, more press for the brilliant Rip Esselstyn, former athlete turned firefighter who changed the lives and health of his fellow firefighters at their engine house in Austin, TX. When he saw the declining health of these true heroes, he knew he had to do something, so he developed a 28-day plan designed to melt fat, lower cholesterol and prevent many of the lifestyle illnesses that plague so many Americans. His plan was so effective for his fellow firefighters, that he developed the ‘Engine 2 Diet’ cookbook.
His groundbreaking approach to weight loss and fitness? Eat a plant-based diet, no processed foods and exercise. I love this book because I love Rip’s message; I live the lifestyle he is recommending…and I adore firefighters. So I was more than happy to turn on Sunday morning television (something I HATE…) and watch Rip do his thing…and he did…and he was great. And while his Chief said she missed fried chicken and he admitted that great barbecue still smells good to him, he leaves it at the memory so that he can maintain his health and eat delicious food…it’s just different…and the results in his life are obvious.
But here is where it gets weird…and made me totally nuts…totally. While Rip spoke of the benefits of a plant-based diet and cited solid study after study about nutrition and health, his segment was inter-cut with an expert spokesperson about meat. Nancy Rodriguez, a Connecticut nutritionist whose research has been funded by the beef industry, said that meat is a healthy option in man’s diet and cited the absorption of iron as the bedrock of why people need meat. She continued that moderation is the key, that if people just ate a wee bit healthier and lost some weight, we would see the same results as we see with dietary approaches like veganism. Really? On what planet? Has she looked around and seen where this idea of change without really changing has gotten us? Does she live under a rock with no access to information about soaring healthcare costs and their direct link to the food we eat? We don’t need more healthcare; we need to take care of ourselves and it begins with what we choose to eat.
The question was then asked, why prolong life if you can’t enjoy it? Rodriguez said, ‘Those other types of pleasures that come from enjoying good quality proteins whether you’re roasting a turkey or a piece of beef, I think it would be sad to deprive ourselves of some of those things.’
Sad????? That’s her answer? And she’s a nutritionist! Heaven help us! I’d like her to tell me what the standard American diet has contributed to in terms of ‘enjoying’ life. Now I know a heart attack is every girl’s dream and cancer, well that’s a party we all want to attend, but if it means giving up all that greasy saturated fat, well, life just ain’t worth living, right?
Seriously, if we think that giving up killing and eating animals to satisfy some weirdly programmed, marketed desire in us will make us happier, then why aren’t we? If meat is the key to enjoying life and feeling fulfilled, then why, as a culture are we fat, unfit and depressed? Many of our men can’t get it up and women aren’t interested if they can. We’re sad and angry and irritable all the time. That’s what our current style of eating and living has wrought. And while some of the ‘health nuts’ in your life are a little, well, nuts (me included), they are generally slender, happier, peaceful and fitter. That’s what a diet of all those foods that take away life’s pleasures gives you.
It’s a truly sad day for us and the world when nutritionists use our battered emotions to keep us eating in a fashion that keeps their work funded. And I suppose CBS couldn’t very well have Rip Esselstyn and his doctor father talking about the perils of eating meat when advertising dollars hang in the balance. How could they justify this position to Wendy’s or McDonald’s or any of the other fast food, junk-peddling, health-robbing pirates out there masquerading as food manufacturers?
When giving up meat would make us ‘sad,’ we need to step back and see that we are being screwed…by big business, meat lobbies and advertisers. And we didn’t even get kissed.