The Know-a-tarian Diet for Body, Mind, and Soul: Part II
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on January 8, 2013.  Posted with permission. 

There’s an odyssey on your dinner plate, and it’s epic.   A know-a-tarian knows the story.

Calculate the number of miles your food traveled to arrive.  Think about the fossil fuels burned in transportation, processing, and storage not to mention the pesticides. Some studies find that it takes seven to ten calories of input energy to create one calorie for the consumer.

Know that food is its most nutritious when it’s freshest.  Why should a Floridian eat an orange grown in California?  Does it matter? Buying locally not only supports your local economy, but it’s better for your health and for the environment.  Know that.

So, know your local food producers.  Click on the online version of this article for “A Guide to Eating Sustainably in Southwest Florida” prepared by the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The setting jumps to past supermarket where cleaned and de-veined shrimp were glistening on ice.  I, the protagonist, was thrilled.  Shrimp I don’t have to clean?  Yes. Without thinking, I purchased it and cooked it and enjoyed it.  Until. I read about the shrimp farming industry. (Side trip to Google.)

What disturbed me the most were not the labor practices, but that not once did I even think to ask who was cleaning this shrimp for me.  I didn’t know then who was harvesting, processing, packaging, shipping, and selling my food. It’s not just my shrimp back then but all of my food, even today. Perhaps I knew, but I didn’t really know. I try to know now.

But in terms of ethics, perhaps one of the greatest dramas on the plate is the plight of the animals.  Know about eating animals.  Please?

Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, once wrote, “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

The benefits of a plant-based diet on the human body are documented.  But what about the spirit?

Yogis believe that when you eat, you are consuming the energy of the food.  The purest food, the most “sattvic,” the food of the highest mind and spirit, is unprocessed and plant-based.  If you eat chicken that has been tortured in a factory farm, you are consuming the energy of terror.

If you don’t believe that, it’s fine.  Just watch a few videos of factory farms, the impacts of corn feed on livestock, or peruse the PETA website. Face the dragon.  Then, you can make a decision.

You don’t want to look?  I can understand.  Just know that’s called denial.

Read Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser.  Read Diet for a New America by John Robbins.  Read The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.

Netflix “Forks over Knives,” “Food, Inc.,” and “King Corn.”

Know that vegetarianism isn’t the only option.  Even in the production of vegetarian food, there are animal casualties on the farm.  But, know that there are humane alternatives to factory farms and corporate slaughterhouses.

Sayer Ji, founder of and co-author of “Cancer Killers,” warns people to “beware of neuroticism” when it comes to food.  He suggests that there is more to food than its chemical, nutrient components.  The experience of growing, preparing, and sharing food has nutritive value.

Food and the sharing of its energy should be pleasurable.

What you choose to eat is an economic, moral, and spiritual decision that impacts your health; the bodies, minds, and souls of all living things; and the future of this planet.  But pleasure without knowledge is dangerous.  Know that.