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But Don’t You Miss the Taste of Meat?

October 10, 2017

I like food and when I eat I try and follow a compassionate diet. What that means for me is a plant-based diet that causes no harm to animals and doesn’t involve the exploitation of animals and doesn’t cause any harm to the planet. Oh yeah, and selfishly I suppose you could say, a diet that’s also the most beneficial to my health. Call it what you’d like: vegetarianism, veganism or Whole Food/Plant Based; I call it simply trying to eat and live mindfully.

For me, eating a whole food/plant based diet for health at this point in my life is a no-brainer, and while I have a lot of love for vegans (sorry vegetarians, but between ‘ovo’ and ‘lacto’ and ‘ovo-lacto’, you don’t make a lot of sense to me so my love meter for you falls a little lower and lands in the “bunch of respect” category ) the focus on animal welfare and harm makes the vegan diet a little difficult for me. Not because I want to eat animals, but because the attitude of some individual vegans is off-putting and that makes the overall lifestyle unappealing to me.

And also – and this is sad – animals, in one form or another, are (again, sadly), involved in pretty much everything in our lives. Because of that, I wonder if it’s not almost impossible to live a truly ‘vegan’ life.

I don’t defend or necessarily condone any of what follows, but . . .

There are animal parts in house paint (casein). So do I live in a home with unpainted walls?

I have an old hammer in a drawer that I use to pound nails into the wall to hang photos and I think the handle might be leather. So I can get rid of the hammer and replace it with a rubble-handled hammer, but rubber also contains animal ingredients (stearic acid).

Forget about the rubber tires on my car, how about the asphalt I’m driving those rubber tires on (glycerin)? So do I stop driving and walk everywhere, careful to avoid stepping on asphalt and walking on grass only?

If I do that – walk on grass only – I’d better make sure what type of fertilizer was used on that grass because . . .  yes, animal parts (bone meal, manure).

And speaking of driving: I can’t drive my car in the summer without bugs and insects smashing up against the windshield and the front grill so by driving am I inadvertently putting insects and bugs in danger and harming them when I drive to the grocery store to buy vegetables and fruit and other non-animal food products to eat?

Vaccines, what do I do, just say no? (I have no real idea what’s in a vaccine but I’ve read a lot of nauseating things about fat and milk and blood and bone and brain and muscle being used at one point or another in the process)

It goes on and on:

Plastic bags (animal fat)?
Condoms (casein and glycerin)?
Fireworks (stearic acid)?
Computers (stearic acid)?
Wine (casein, gelatin, isinglass)?
Beer (gelatin, isinglass, glycerol)?
Red-colored applesauce and lollipops (carmine or carminic acid)? Some bagels and bread (L-cysteine)?
The Minnesota Orchestra (and by extension all Classical music because of the catgut for stringed instruments and glue to hold the wood of those instruments together)?


The summer of 2017 has been tenacious here in Minnesota and the other day I took a beautiful walk through the Westwood Hills Nature Center (if you’re ever in town check it out, and if you let me know I’ll try and meet you there) and while I was enjoying the trees and the grass and the water and the wildflowers and the breeze, a bug flew into my mouth and my immediate instinct was to cough and then I involuntarily swallowed and it all happened so fast I had no idea what was going on until the bug was on his way down into the gloomy acid-filled pit of my belly. So do I need to stop outdoor walking?

Yes, I’m using very extreme examples here and I understand that my examples might be every bit as absurd as saying that the bible tells us not to kill, but when we wash our hands we’re killing bacteria so as hand-washers concerned with sanitation and personal hygiene we’re guilty of murder. And I know that by the definition provided to us by the Vegan Society, veganism is living – as far as possible and practicable – a life that limits anything that would exploit or cause cruelty to animals for any reason, and I know that sometimes in life there are things that are simply out of our control. But the point I’m trying to make – and I took a long and windy way to get here but if you go back to the second sentence of the second paragraph you’ll see what got me started on this – is that no one is perfect and I think that life would be a lot simpler if people stopped believing they were perfect and other people weren’t.

Wow, man, how’d you get from there to here and who’s talking about being perfect and criticizing others for not being perfect?

Well, I’ll tell you.

I read different message boards looking for food and cooking tips, as well as recipes, and I see a lot of compassionate and humane people criticizing other compassionate and humane people for no real reason except to, I can only assume, make themselves feel better. I see vegans criticizing vegetarians for being hypocrites and vegans insulting other vegans for not doing enough or for not being compassionate enough, or in the case of one message I read, a person was criticized for not being “vegan enough”. What does that even mean? I never comment to anything on these boards because what’s the point, but after reading enough of those messages and absorbing enough of that anger and hostility I start to wonder what the point of it all is.

Someone lives a vegan lifestyle because they don’t want to bring harm to animals and yet they can bring harm to another animal online by shaming them. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

What does make sense to me is to live simply and to live mindfully.

Thanks for reading and now go live as the best being you can think to be. And if you have a recipe you’d like to share, please do. Or if you want to know where I get my protein, feel free to ask!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2017 4:31 pm

    If you really want to look at the extremes (for curiosity sake) check out the Jain religion. They wear masks so that they don’t inhale bugs/micro-organisms and they sweep the ground in front of them as they walk so that they don’t step on anything they cannot see. I met some at the Parliament of World Religions a couple of years ago. Genuine, compassionate people with .. get this .. no judgment about how others live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      November 2, 2017 11:36 am

      I like the idea of wearing masks for more reasons than not accidentally inhaling a bug! I’m reading a little bit about Jainism now but the swastika symbol is a little off-putting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 4, 2017 11:11 am

        That made me laugh! (about the mask) Yeah, the swastika makes us think of the worst era it ever symbolized. But there’s so much history with it long before Hitler & the Holocaust. I wish we could see past that, but I have no idea how to do that. 😦


  2. October 16, 2017 4:34 pm

    Oh, and honestly the reasons you mention above are why I stopped following most vegan/vegetarian pages. They declare compassion and non-violence as their motive, but live with a ridiculous amount of violence in their spirits. (Yes, I see me judging there.) I would assume that creates much more of a toxic environment within their bodies emotions are directly linked to systemic changes .. than any food or drink they may or may not put in their mouths.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 16, 2017 4:43 pm

      And I also neglected to say to you how much I admire your approach and how much you think through not only your own choices, but your reactions and responses to others. It’s part of why I enjoy interacting with you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      November 2, 2017 11:39 am

      I guess I don’t consider what you said to be a judgement but an observation. The spirit is what’s really difficult for me to work with. Changing my diet was simple and I don’t even miss the foods that I thought I’d miss, but the spirit… thoughts… emotions… Those are stumbling blocks for me. I thought meditation was supposed to fix all of that but it’s not so easy. And thank you for the kind words! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 4, 2017 11:08 am

        I’m with you,the thoughts & emotions are the hardest part. It’s like it can be really easy to change habits around eating. Just takes discipline and willpower. But changing thoughts and emotions isn’t so simple. So much deeper and the reasons feel more hidden (to me anyway). I’m guessing meditation takes a really long time to work. But I keep trying!


        • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
          November 13, 2017 1:12 pm

          I keep trying too but I’m not having any success so I’m going to try and switch things up a little bit and see what happens.


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