Last week I took a call from my Nan, in between her deciphering who I was and me being cut loose, because Elvis himself was performing at the care-home that evening (the wonder of Alzheimer’s) my Nan gave me some advice. She told me “don't trust people who aren't into their food”. This got me thinking, isn’t everyone into their food? Eating is something primal, so surely everyone feels hunger and has preferences? I wondered, can each one of us control or adapt our dining desires?
For a long time, I believed that hunger arose purely to warn of imminent energy loss. An efficient, diagnostic note penned by our hormones, to request the replacement of depleted vital nutrients. But how could this be true, if it were, then why when we see a delicious food advert (M&S!) does our stomach growl? Surely our own stomach isn’t trying to intimidate us, to deceive us, to lead us astray? Possibly it is that our minds are easily seduced; the anticipated pleasure involved in eating too addictive for them to resist. Or just maybe, our instincts believe that we are still hunter gatherers? In my case I find this hard to believe, however it is true! Our instincts are still fine tuned to a time when food was scarce, a time of feast or famine. When our early ancestors found food they would experience a surge in the hormone ghrelin, this increasing their appetite to enable them to eat more, as it may be days before they would eat again.
So, how do we know if our twenty first century memos of hunger are genuine or forged? Should we be able to distinguish between the two? One, to administer a prescription by knife and fork; a lifesaving mission; a necessity to promote health and prevent...well...death. The other, a hedonistic dance across the plate, allowing primal senses and taste preferences to materialise one's pleasures.
Well, if we don’t hold the ability to control hunger, do we have the ability to control our desires and most importantly, our culinary choices?
Before my Nan shared her perplexing advice, she mentioned that in her day they never had fancy organic foods or people limiting their consumption of certain food groups. Oh, but how wrong she was, they did! However, the produce and purchaser didn’t come with an exclusive label, all produce was organic, seasonal and rationed. Farmers bred and respected cattle, greed was a deadly sin and the world was blossoming. But at what stage did this change in such a drastic way? A way that we now have to pray that everyone slams on their brakes, while we cling on for dear life.
Sadly, during this era we became so detached and desensitised to the mass production of food, the suffering of animals and the planet. We closed our eyes and ears, while being hypnotised by greed. The truth is that today the egg industry is responsible for 7 billion day old chicks being ground to death each year, purely because they are male; The milk industry is responsible, for screaming mother cows having their day old calves torn away, so they can continue to be raped and eventually killed; Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse emissions - more than all forms of transport combined; 91 percent of the Amazon rainforest deforestation is caused by livestock; One third of the earth’s water is used by the meat and dairy industry. Did you realise that your lunch choice was such a colossal one, one with a side-order of the aforementioned? Who allowed this to happen? Are the industry’s responsible for these atrocities or is it us, the consumers?
So, going back to my Nan’s advice, perhaps it is more crucial today than ever before … we must be into our food! Now is the time to reassess our preferences, to open our eyes and minds afresh and start talking.
The topic of what we eat, need not be discussed on the battlefield. Vegetarians come in peace to share a message, a passionate one, a message fueled by compassion and love for all sentient beings, the planet and the future of the next generation. I understand that the counter-argument of some is driven by habit, the belief that one person won’t make a difference; and occasionally, out of spite, due to the wrong approach of some non-meat-eaters!
Let’s continue the rapid awakening; diminish judgement, educate and support one another. I myself understand that you have to be ready to acknowledge the reality. I delayed watching the film ‘Earthlings’ as I knew it would change my life forever. Now, I strongly believe that having the strength to endure that film and subsequently becoming vegetarian, is one of the best decisions that I ever made. Every single time you chose to avoid animal produce is a momentous and beneficial one. They say that you save the lives of 100 animals per year by eating a vegetarian diet, this proves that just one person can make a significant difference. We each have the power to control our desires and ultimately what we put on our plate...
Will it still be your DARK NECESSITY?
Be into your food!