Healthy Lifestyle Blog
May 9, 2016
January 31, 2016
This letter is in response to an article I recently read in which the author addresses her belief that veganism perpetuates issues of classism and racism. The article can be found here.
Dear Ms. Ogwude,
I appreciate the thought that went into your article, touching on so many aspects of the obstacles that vegans face: economic, cultural, convenience, and although not addressed directly, lack of education.
I respect your hypothesis with regard to classism and I do hope you will give my comments some serious consideration. Although you opened your article with what seems to be an understanding of some of the very valid reasons one would adopt a vegan lifestyle (“More and more people are deciding to reject the slaughter, consumption and exploitation of animals. People are realizing that there are safer and more environmentally friendly options out there to sustain themselves.”), you depart from these ethical and environmental reasons which are very compelling, to explain why it is just too hard to follow for those who are not middle class Caucasians.
I agree that there is classism at play in the availability of healthy food to people of some socio-economic groups, especially when you consider the food deserts that exist in so many underprivileged communities, where convenience stores are stocked with processed foods and fresh produce is rarely available. It would be far more productive to join forces with those working for food justice, than to succumb to the existing reality and rely on that quick convenient MacDonald’s hamburger or that bulk package of chicken parts, that we know is detrimental to our health and to the environment (not to mention to the sentient beings that were tortured and slaughtered). So rather than resenting “notion that it is a superior lifestyle,” it would be prudent to examine whether or not it is indeed a more beneficial lifestyle for all, regardless of class.
That said, I wish to address the economic issue first. The only reason that a MacDonald’s hamburger or bulk package of chicken is cheaper than the veggie burger alternative is the price is unnaturally low because our tax dollars contribute to the torture and exploitation of millions of sentient beings every day. Our tax dollars subsidize the production of millions of acres of monoculture grain to feed these animals, grain that is not meant for humans. Our tax dollars support the the industrial animal ag industry with water rights to consume billions of gallons of water to raise these crops, to sustain the animals, and to wash away their waste into “lagoons” that poison the water tables. Our tax dollars support the use of public lands for grazing. If these dollars were directed to small scale organic farmers and food equity, we would solve the economic issue while improving the environment along with the added benefit of a healthier population, thus reversing the downward spiral of health and life expectancy in the US. There are many ways to eat healthy vegan food without spending a fortune. Changing public policy with regard to subsidies is one of them. Until we get the money out of politics, we can educate ourselves, while working at the local level to bring in healthy food into our communities at low costs. We can be instruments of change by encouraging food cooperatives, establishing buyers clubs and buying in bulk, organizing community gardens, eliminating lawns to grow edibles, creating rooftop gardens, applying pressure on our government, teaching others how to prepare affordable healthy food, and certainly by being an example.
You mention culture. The traditional diets of most cultures did not include meat as the main course, but rather as a condiment, if it was available at all. We have departed greatly from the traditional diets that sustained humanity for so long, and have now have placed animal flesh as the main event on our plates, and it is infused with a cocktail of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, coupled with a huge dose of fear and suffering. That was certainly not typical of what our ancestors consumed.
If you examine the food industry since WWII, you will see how convenience foods became the mainstay of the western diet. Our grocery store shelves are lined with edible food-like substances that come in packages (adding to our waste stream) and are laden with preservatives so that they may sit on the shelf for years. This is not real food. This is not what our traditional cultures ate. This convenience has a cost – on our health and on our environment. But those costs are shrouded by the convenience and cheap price.
So how would one be able to eat if animal products were left off the plate? I admit that it is a little more challenging at first, especially in our fast food culture, huge food lobbies, and separation from nature. But with some education and re-connecting with the source of our food, it becomes far more simple, and there are so many benefits. Research and countless case studies have proven that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse the most common chronic diseases that are among the top ten causes of death in the US (cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, renal failure, to name a few). Isn’t it time to educate the public, and especially the medical professionals, in the prevention of disease through proper nutrition rather than treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals, costing us billions of dollars every year? This shift from the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is the hallmark of our current culture (certainly not embedded in our history) will only occur when people recognize that we have strayed from our core values.
Each and every one of us who cares about life on this planet should become the change agents to bring about a more beautiful world. It takes courage to live our true core values (I don’t think anyone wants to routinely contribute to suffering and exploitation). Food is our livelihood. It is at the root of our culture, class, economics. It takes commitment to set an example of living a life in alignment with our core values. It takes stamina to educate others that we don’t need to submit to what the masses are doing, even if it may be more convenient and more acceptable to others. I trust that you have the courage, commitment and stamina to become a change agent.
November 29, 2014
She would have been 30 years old today.
On Thanksgiving evening grief flooded my being as the day of her arrival/departure emerged into my consciousness. I pulled out the tattered folder I have treasured all these years. A folder full of condolences, handmade cards from children, a few photos, and multiple drafts of a piece I wrote three decades ago while attending a writing class at Teachers College in NYC. A catharsis for me.
It’s time to share today’s version of that narrative.
The doors open to a stark block-letter reality.
A lump swells in my throat.
My limbs weaken.
My blood vessels throb.
My vision pulsates with the rhythm of my heart.
Wait here, while I get her.
Upstairs mothers wait to feed their babies.
This mother waits to grieve hers.
Images of the past 24 hours occupy my mind’s eye
from awakening to severe cramps
to the harsh brightness of a crisp morning
piercing my being
punctuating my fear
to the solitary room
sounds of monitors beeping
muffled voices just outside the door
to a crowd of shadowy figures shouting commands
to the faint cry, hands reaching in to whisk away its source
to awakening in a lonely room.
A crescendo of footsteps.
She enters with a small bundle.
There was nothing physically wrong with your baby. She’s perfectly formed. Would you like to hold her?
My mind hesitates but my arms are ready.
I am left alone to hold her and rock her.
To fill the cold institutional space
with anguish and primal sobs…
Empty of the promise of new life.
Empty of dreams.
Empty of tears.
My attention shifts.
I want to know this being that arrived before its time.
To examine her thoroughly
from head to toe
abundant dark hair
hands the size of my thumbnail
and fingernails, too!
noticeable calf muscles
and ink on the sole
(on the soul?)
Even down to the soiled diaper.
for the chill
that permeates the wrapping
(a signal as blatant
as the block-letter reality)
reminding me that this is a
complete with ID tag
dangling from one toe.
She must have read my mind.
June 18, 2014
Since March, I have been traveling quite a bit, and discovered an amazing location to host a gathering for the adventurous spirit. The place is Yelapa, located on a beautiful cove in western Mexico, about 20 miles south of Puerto Vallarta.
After being there for a week-long yoga retreat, I decided that I MUST return and share the experience with others. So with the intention of finding the perfect place to host an event I returned to Yelapa for an extended stay.
So far I have two amazing women to help me create a wonderful experience for a small group. One is a raw vegan chef extraordinaire, and the other is a photographer who has a remarkable ability to paint a story in a single photograph. And what better than to have a gathering with delicious food and photography in a location that is beautiful, remote (no cars in Yelapa) and magical.
I am planning for our group to gather in Puerto Vallarta on March 7, 2015, then proceeding to Yelapa for one week (March 8-15, 2015). More details will follow. Basically daily activities will include lessons in preparing raw vegan food, classes in creating story through photography, and/or additional activities like yoga, chanting, meditation and day trips to beautiful sites. Double occupancy accommodations and most meals will be included in the cost of this eight-day experience.
Does this sound like something you would love? If so, please email me with your questions and interests.
Marilyn at aTasteofLight dot com
September 18, 2012
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were introduced into the food supply in 1992. At that time the FDA declared that genetically engineered foods are not substantially different from conventionally grown foods and do not require special regulation or safety studies.
This opened the doors to continued infiltration of GMOs into the food supply with no requirement to label such foods. Today, almost 90% of all processed foods in the supermarket contain at least one genetically engineered ingredient.
Several states have introduced GMO labeling laws, but backed down after Monsanto, a major producer of GMOs, threatened legal action. Fiscally strapped state governments had to back down.
In a grass roots effort, Californians have met the requirements to have a GMO labeling proposition placed on November’s ballot. The biotech and food industries are gearing up to defeat this effort. Hopefully Californians will continue to organize for their right to know and pass the initiative, which would likely result in other states following suit.
If you wish to learn more about the health and environmental effects of GMOs, and which foods are free of GMOs you may email me or visit http://www.responsibletechnology.org/ or http://www.nongmoproject.org/.