Eating Thoughts + Infidel753’s Vegan COVID Ones

Little K-D girl definitely loves her meat — and anything else her people are eating. Here she works her hypnosis… Photo thanks to Khashayar Parsi
Little K-D girl definitely loves her meat — and anything else her people are eating. Here she works her hypnosis… Photo thanks to Khashayar Parsi

What kind of eater are you? Writer, reader, whatever you do for fun (I’m working on my novels, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat’ and “Tango & the Sitting Cat”), you gotta eat, right?

I’m sort of vegetarian — more pescatarian — more accurately hypocritical — but definitely not vegan.

Whatever one is or isn’t, I believe the thoughtful — and emotional — life is best. The idea of considering one’s actions, being honest with oneself and the world at large mean a lot to me. Particularly because I believe not being so causes harm, i.e., people doing bad things to themselves, each other, their pets, the environment. I’m no expert, though. The only thing I know for sure is that generalizing generally gets me in trouble.

So for the rest of this post I’ll stick to worrying about myself. I’ve written about what my pets have taught me here and here and here

For a long time, I didn’t really want to eat meat, but I ate it because the vegetarians I knew were so insufferable that I didn’t want to be anything like them. For one thing, they were awful to eat with, the way they’d badmouth nearby meat-eaters and discuss food in unwholesome ways. But as someone who too often bends backward to be understanding and accommodating, who am I to speak badly of vociferous vegetarians?

What I can say is one day I attended a BBQ. One where the hosts had purchased ribs as I’d never encountered them before; long racks of them, as boney and white-pinkish as mine! I can’t remember if I ate some to be polite. What I know is that very night I had a nightmare wherein I ate the little lovebird I owned at the time. It didn’t help that around then (in real life, I mean) it seemed convenient, tasty, and nutritious to once a week or so rinse a dead refrigerated Cornish game hen and dump it into a crock pot with veggies. How grown up of me — Voila! — dinner awaited as soon as I got home from work!

After aforementioned BBQ, the next time I rinsed a little boney pink-white-grey game hen — I thought of my ribs, my pet bird who was named Gumbie for her adorable putty green feathers, and the nightmare.

I can’t remember if I immediately — “cold turkey” harhar? — stopped eating flesh. Maybe I ate whatever was left in the fridge as it would’ve been beyond disrespectful to toss the corpse remains in the trash….

What I’m sure of is the convergence of discomfort woke me to the fact that I was foolish to eat meat only because I didn’t want to be like the sort of folks I could never anyway be.

It wasn’t hard to stop. The meaty meals I enjoyed had to do with the stuff on them, the sauces and such. And I’ve always loved veggies and fruit and nuts and beans and grains and the like. Good chance less meat would clear space for more of the better stuff, assuming I didn’t fill said “meat gap” with candy. That I could easily do as I love chocolate, but I didn’t. Not much, at least.

The first year, to be social, I ate a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. I was taken aback by just how much meat some people consume when I heard lots of, “I would starve if I didn’t eat meat. What do you eat?” The trickiest situations were eating at people’s homes until I realized I should just bring a good veggie dish to share. As a result, I found people enjoy veggies a lot more than they think, so long as they’re prepared nicely. In fact, at parties, it’s the veggie pizzas that usually finish before the meat ones.

But I eat fish sometimes. So I’m a hypocrite. Though I don’t go out of my way to eat fish meals…

Eating is complicated. For all the health advice I’ve encountered, stress is hands down the worst thing for us. And eating can be super emotional. So if not eating meat is going to stress anyone out, not that anyone seeks my opinion on this, I’d say just go ahead and eat some, but try to do it with thought and compassion.

For sure don’t heap more of it than you can eat on your plate and then throw it away. That animal died for you, after all, unwilling as it was. And try to make sure it had a halfway decent life before it was led into a slaughterhouse or tossed into boiling water or…

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I recently stumbled onto “Infidel753: we are not fallen angels, we are risen apes,” a blog filled with so many genius posts that I asked Mr. Infidel753 to guest blog post here for you! The following post he wrote for us is what inspired my preceding aside. BTW, with all the quarantining, like him, between no social eating and exercising more regularly since now I do it on zoom without having to add in a commute, I’m now actually healthier.

Born in the United States since his parents arrived here from Britain, Indfidel753 blogs from Portland, Oregon. He’s been to the UK, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Germany, Ukraine, and Japan, and hopes to travel some more. Though he earned degrees in Middle Eastern history, he works in something secret that’s other than academia. A blogging pioneer, he started in 2006!

An in-depth portrait of the author, Infidel753.
An in-depth portrait of the author, Infidel753.

Pursuing health in a land of sickness by Infidel753

It started with the pigs.

For most of my life I ate pretty much like a typical American. That included eating meat, with little or no thought to what meat is or where it comes from. But due to a long-standing interest in evolutionary biology, I steadily learned more and more about animals — including how similar they, especially other mammals, are to humans in many ways. Did you know, for example, that the other great ape species have the same blood types as we do — A, B, O, etc? In the case of chimpanzees the blood chemistry is close enough that transfusions between species would be possible, with individuals of the same blood type.

Around 2008 my reading made me aware that pigs, in particular, are at least as intelligent and emotionally sophisticated as dogs. This made me uncomfortable with the thought of eating their meat. Most people, at least in the West, would not be comfortable with eating dog flesh because we think of dogs as quasi-persons. But I realized that eating pig meat was no different — so I stopped doing it.

Over time, as I learned more, I extended the same principle to mammals generally. Cattle and sheep are not as intelligent as pigs, but they’re also self-aware creatures, and I could simply no longer blank out the knowledge that what I was eating was part of the corpse of a conscious being. Finally I gave up meat altogether. Even animals like chickens and fish seem obviously self-aware to some extent, and they certainly have the capacity to suffer.

And suffer they do. Most meat now is produced on factory farms, where animals are kept in horrific conditions of overcrowding and immobility, constantly dosed with antibiotics to suppress the infectious diseases which would otherwise run rampant under such conditions (and even so, disease is often widespread). Unlike many vegetarians, I don’t really like animals — they’re unpredictable, generally not very clean, and in many cases dangerous; I don’t like having them around me. But I don’t like the thought of them suffering.

But I still hadn’t grasped the implications for human health. If anything, I worried that eliminating meat might lead to malnutrition. I still ate things like eggs and cheese, as well as the wide range of processed junk that makes up so much of the “normal” American diet.

By the beginning of 2020 I knew I needed to do more. I had lost some weight, but at 225 pounds and 5’11″ I was still clinically obese, and I was about to turn sixty. That put me in the express lane to a stroke or a heart attack. I started educating myself about health and came to realize that animal by-products like cheese and eggs are probably even more toxic to the human system than meat is.

The pandemic was the final straw. It soon became clear that if you catch covid-19, overall health has a lot of impact on how badly it harms you. I observed rigorous isolation to avoid the virus, but I knew I couldn’t absolutely eliminate the risk of catching it. So I cut out all the remaining animal products and most of the junk food. It was, I suppose, partly a way of feeling proactive and taking action rather than being passive in the face of the viral threat.

I also became something of a fanatic for learning as much as I could about the effects of various kinds of food on the human body. Human anatomy and biochemistry are those of a herbivorous animal, not an omnivorous one, and our pervasive problems of obesity, diabetes, arterial damage, and a dozen other scourges, are simply the kinds of things that happen to an animal when it eats the wrong kind of food. Such problems have historically been rare in populations which traditionally ate a mostly starch-based diet with very little meat, as in much of Asia — but as prosperity brought American-style eating to those cultures, American-style health problems have followed. Conversely, among Americans, it’s vegans — those who eat mostly vegetables, fruit, nuts, and legumes, eschewing animal products and keeping processed stuff to a minimum — who statistically suffer least from such ailments. All this self-education helped me stick to the new path.

The results far exceeded expectations. By the end of 2020 I had lost thirty pounds, and the joint inflammation flare-ups and chest pains which had plagued me for most of my life had almost disappeared.

This isn’t a “diet” in the sense of a temporary program to be followed until its goals are achieved. It’s a reversion to what should be the norm. I consider it analogous to quitting smoking.

In terms of popular thinking and moral consensus, I think meat-eating today is about where slavery was around 1800. Most people still accept it as a normal part of life without giving it much thought. Only a small minority recognizes that there’s a serious moral problem, to say nothing of the health issues. But that minority is growing with time. There is, at least, fairly widespread awareness of how much animal farming contributes to global warming. But that issue is only the tip of a very large, ugly, and dangerous iceberg. Over time, I hope and believe, the reality of the problem will become widely understood despite the dense fog of misinformation, propaganda, and wishful thinking that now obscures it. Until then, at least I personally am no longer implicated — and no longer harming myself.

How do you feel about eating these days?

90 thoughts on “Eating Thoughts + Infidel753’s Vegan COVID Ones

  1. I really love food and cooking and I pretty much eat everything, although I don’t eat a lot of processed foods. Raising kids, my intake of meat and sugar has increased well beyond what it was in the years before they were born or even when they were little. Adolescents have a way of taking over. I don’t see myself ever giving up either meat or sugar but I do expect to cut way back once I no longer have to prepare meals for 5 people every day. This is perhaps the lazy way out but somehow I’ve managed to maintain a healthy weight my entire life and have never been on a diet. Perhaps all the standing on my feet, chopping fruits and vegetables every single day has helped.

    Infidel alludes to there being a lot of misinformation out there. One thing I’ve wondered about is the claim that replacing meat calories with vegetable calories would have other undesirable impacts on the environment. For example, we’d need a lot more land to grow the required amount of food and the harvest and transport of those crops (which have fewer calories per pound) would impose a greater carbon footprint. What do you think about arguments along these lines?

    Liked by 3 people

    • A vegan world would need much less agricultural land to produce the same amount of food, not more, because it would eliminate the enormous inefficiency of animal farming. With animal farming, the land that could produce 10,000 calories of food for human consumption is instead producing 10,000 calories of food to be fed to animals to produce 100 calories of meat for human consumption. An entirely vegan world could support a much larger human population with greater food security and far less impact on the environment.

      (This, by the way, is why carnivorous animals are almost never farmed for meat. You’d need to grow 10,000 calories of food to produce 100 calories of herbivorous animal meat to feed to carnivores to produce 1 calorie of carnivore meat for humans. With the additional step, the economic inefficiency becomes insurmountable.)

      As to the carbon footprint of transportation, this is part of the larger issue of needing to convert our transportation systems to non-fossil-fuel energy. We have the technology. Electric vehicles are already more powerful than gasoline-powered ones (see here, for example), while solar and wind power are being developed to replace fossil-fuel power plants to generate electricity in much of the world (notably, Europe, India, and the Arab world have forged ahead while the US lagged behind under the Trump “administration”, but the US is now starting to make a greater contribution). So food transportation is part of the larger issue of transportation more generally, which is manageable as new technology is implemented.

      The real carbon footprint issue related to food production is the huge methane output of farm animals, which actually makes a substantial contribution to global warming. Eliminating animal farming would probably reduce global warming more than eliminating gasoline-fueled cars would reduce it.

      Like the cigarette industry decades ago, the meat and animal-products industry is investing millions to spread lies, confusion, and fake research, to obfuscate the fact that they’re making money off of a product which is essentially poisonous — and which is produced under conditions which are morally intolerable to decent people, an issue which didn’t arise with cigarettes. But in fact, reducing or eliminating meat consumption is one of the biggest things we could do to mitigate global warming and damage to the environment more generally.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I figured you would give me an excellent argument for why I should stop eating meat. 🙂 You always have a superior understanding of the facts behind every stance you take.

        Much of what you wrote, I’ve heard before (perhaps even from you) but you’re right that there is enough misinformation out there to make people pause–especially before embracing the virtues of vegetarianism, what Al Gore might label an inconvenient truth.

        You’ve motivated me to make a concerted effort to eat less meat. Can’t say I’m ready to give it up but I can definitely cut back. I’ll also try to keep your talking points in mind so that I’m at least better educated about the reality of the situation.

        Congratulations on the weight loss and cheers to a healthier 7th decade!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve noticed small, slender people like me tend to eat often and gain little or no weight. I suspect that’s genetics at work. And since small, slender people are well-suited to aerobic sports like running and cycling, that tendency is enhanced. On the flip side, we also tend to get very cranky if we don’t eat when we need to.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you for sharing!… Da-Al, when it comes to writing something, irregardless of the subject matter, I usually let my fingers do the walking and my heart do the talking… 🙂

    As far as eating habits, I am not a vegetarian but I do try to have a healthy eating habit and therefore eat more vegetables with my meal, also try to prepare meals in a healthy manner… also I try to reduce my intake of sugar and salt… 🙂

    Until we meet again…

    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Da-Al, I thank you for this post I greatly enjoyed. I am a vegetarian since over 17 years by now, I do eat fish and can so very much relate to your experience, as mine was very similar. Those many years ago, I was invited to my persian brother in law for chicken kebab, which used like, I had a few bites and suddenly I was not able to finish my plate, something all of a sudden grossed me out. That very night I had a dream, that a little lamb came to me and begging me not to eat animals anymore, it was such a vivid and real conversation with that lamb, that next morning I woke up, I decided not to eat meat, chicken or anything like that any more. It became so natural to me, as like I had been all my life a vegetarian, such a relief. Since than my cooking has become much more creative and happier.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Hi. I want to politely disagree to your comments brought above. Eating meat is not in any way against our human design. Animal have been made to be feasted on by man. But anything in excess is always dangerous. So mindful.eating eating is the key here

    Liked by 3 people

    • There is abundant hard evidence that our human “design” is herbivorous, not omnivorous. Human teeth, stomach size, length of digestive tract, type of stomach acids, and countless other features are all similar to herbivorous animals, not omnivorous ones. Our closest relatives, the other great ape species, are almost entirely herbivorous, and as I noted early in the post, our biochemistry is still very similar to theirs. Almost all meat-eating humans develop forms of gross damage to the circulatory system which simply don’t occur in omnivores or carnivores when they eat meat. It’s very clear that we are herbivores by nature. And the other animals were not “made to be” anything — they evolved in accordance with natural selection based on whatever traits led to their own survival and reproductive success, not some externally-imposed purpose.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. A good source for more easy-to-absorb, evidence-based information on this subject is “Mic the Vegan” on YouTube. He has dozens of videos on various aspects of diet and nutrition; what makes him stand out is that he always cites solid scientific studies and data to back up what he’s saying. For pretty much any pro-meat claim that’s out there, he’s probably posted a video debunking it. More, including some sample videos, here.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Growing up a vegetarian, I did waver at a certain point, enjoying fish and the occasional chicken snack. But it’s back to vegetables again. Though fish does manage to sneak on to my plate, though only on rare occasions, that too when dining out. It’s a matter of choice and conditioning. But eating healthy is very important. I wouldn’t label anyone’s habits as right or wrong, I’m not in that authoritative position. For me now, the thought of eating another creature’s flesh is highly unappealing. It makes it worse when you think of all the suffering they’ve gone through.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Unfortunately, Infidel753 makes the opposite error of those who think we are fallen angels. Both are mistaken, one into thinking we are somehow destined to be divine again; the other thinking we are just glorified apes, no different from the animals that Father put us in charge of to care for and protect.

    In terms of health disciplines, he is spot-on with the unhealthy American habit of overeating, and then paying $400/year for gym memberships to work off the excess fat from donuts, and $1000/year to a shrink to tell us why we are overweight.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really hope nobody is paying $1,000 to a shrink to tell them why they’re overweight (a nutritionist would be more qualified, anyway), when I’ve just told everyone for free. As to the donuts, refined sugar is also unhealthy, though for different reasons than meat — we’re evolved to live mostly from complex carbohydrates, especially starches. Refined sugar has very different effects.

      “Risen apes” does not equate to “no different from” the other apes — in fact, it excludes that interpretation. The point of the motto is that we should be proud of our achievements, given our lowly origins. On my view of the status of the human race in the universe, see here.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Excellent post. Cutting meat out of my diet is something that I aspire too. I’ve already had to stop eating gluten, so I’m sure I can manage without meat (also maybe I’m weird but I love tofu!).

    Liked by 4 people

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