FOOD & HEALTH
12 November 2011 Catalystmagazine.net
To meat or not to meat? One woman’s quest for a healthy, sustainable diet leads beyond raw foods veganism
BY VANESSA JOHANSSON
ears ago, I was the co-owner of a 40-restaurant Subway franchise in multiple states. That income allowed me to retire; I never needed to work again. Then I began to uncover the horrors of factory farming, as well as the health challenges caused by the consumption of cooked meat. I knew my days of being a franchise restaurant owner were over. I began intensive experimentation on my own body with herbs and raw foods. I studied intensely for seven years, earning a degree in nutrition along the way. I watched my body shrink and grow and go pale and fill out and get sick and weak. Hives, acne, a sore throat for 18 months, candida, weird emotional stuff, and so much more colored my raw vegan days. I have been front row witness as well as in-house medicine woman to my three superhero children and my brave and willing life partner. When I stepped onto this extreme path seeking health, I was in large part motivated by the understanding that other feeling and living beings suffered so I could have life. I cut anything with a face from my diet. I felt that if I ate lower on the food chain, not only would there be more food for all, but there would be less suffering in the world. I wanted to preserve the natural resources of this planet. I knew eating meat was resource intensive. I believed conventional farming methods were responsible for pretty much all of the illness and disease being experienced today, not to mention the destruction of our land, water, air and trees. I stand in a very different place today, and it has been a riveting journey to get here. I know with certainty that my position and perspective will continue to evolve as my understanding continues to grow.
Plants are living beings The “I don’t kill my food” rationale for eating vegetarian does not hold up. This was a painful admission to make to myself. I loved believing that I had eradicated the killing of other beings from my karma. Unless you are growing your own food or buying only from local small farms, eat-
ing a plant- and grain-based diet means you are being supported by monocrop agriculture, which wipes out entire biosystems. The vegan diet plays a part in the destruction of a viable and healthy, sustainable ecosystem. My next sticking point was the issue of what is alive and what is not. Is a tree less alive than a deer or a cow? Read The Secret Life of Plants and you will know that plants are as conscious as you and I. A 300-yearold tree may be more conscious than the average human adult today. Plants are life, the big life. Everything else is little life, depending on the big life for survival.
Sustainability “What is sustainable?” is the next question in the carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore dialogue. It is a wonderful step taken as a living being when one becomes aware that this is a shared planet, and that all need to be fed, sheltered, watered, and given their time in the sun. How can I live in a way that is sustainable over the course of my life and makes life sustainable for as much other life as possible? Rule number one is to understand that we can not pollute the pond that we live in. “Sustainable” will of course mean no more pollution than can be easily handled by the earth and trees and waters and by our own bodies and the bodies of all living things. Sustainable ideally means that what we take is renewed quickly and easily. Is food flown in from the South America sustainable? The number of calories required to get it from there to me outweighs the nutrition it provides. Add in the pollution caused by producing and then burning the jet fuel, and mining and producing the metal for the planes and trucks that carry the food, and it becomes clear that this is not a sustainable way to eat. Eating food grown where I live, in soil that is loved, is sustainable. It used to be that the food supply regulated the population. A community or tribe would not have more people in its fold than there were resources to support them. A direct relationship with your food reduces waste. Respect for the soil and water are keys to planetary health and the health of all living creatures.
Health The raw vegan living foods diet is a cleansing diet. But over time, if a body remains in a mode of cleans-
CATALYST November 2011 issue