Figured I would spend some time on other peoples why’s and provide a historical 101 for those interested. I mentioned, people may chose a vegetarian diet for many reasons: religion, anti-establishment tendencies, health, decreasing your carbon foot on and on. This week I want to break etiquette and discuss religion.

Many religions abstained from meat. Ancient religions as the Pythagoreans and Zoroastrianism to Buddhist, Janism, Hinduism, Rastafarian, some Christian and Jewish secs, and even Neo-Pagans follow some form of vegetarianism. One of my favorite vegetarian religions/cults has always been the Pythagoreans. They were the followers of Pythagoras 570-495 BC, father of the Pythagorean Theorem A2+ B2 = C2, a mathematician, musician, mystic, and scientist. Sometimes my ego likes to think of me as all of the above. Like Buddhist, Pythagoreans believed in reincarnation, therefore eating animals was not allowed because you may return as one. It is said that Pythagoras once heard the cry of a friend in the bark of a dog. No thank you.

Humanitarianism seems to be the connection between religion and vegetarianism. The essential ideology to do no harm, participate in non-violence, have a condemnation of cruelty, and at the core be kind to all living things resonates within many religions. The concepts are endearing and idyllic. I have to admit I subscribe to all the above reasons even though I would not consider myself religious, but a student of religion.

Whether the modern veghead will accept it, religion has contributed a great deal to the vegetarian culture. Without the Seventh Day Adventist, the US would not have health food stores, food co-ops, and don’t forget the Soccer Moms Mecca… Whole Foods. The Seventh Day Adventist philosophy evolved from Protestant Christianity during the middle of the 19th century. Religious and dietary teachings of the infallibility of scripture, vegetarianism, and health were key concepts followed by parishioners. By the turn of the century, Adventist companies such as Kellogg’s, Battle Creek Food Company, and Loma Linda Foods were preparing “Health Food” for Adventist communities. In 1902 the Southern California Adventist Conference opened the first health food store in San Diego. Wow, now I know why there is 5% more vegetarians in Cali that the rest of the US, look out Whole Foods.

Other Religious notable contributions are the plethora of ethic restaurants that are heavenly alternatives to American food. Transitioners can always count on Indian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Chinese, and Thai Restaurants to offer a melody of flavors that will make you never miss flesh.

Rant Warning: The point of discussing religion, we need to know where we came from to know where we are going. Ignorance may be bliss but your still an ignorant F*@k if you’re not understanding of other peoples ideologies on the topic and only concerned with your own particular opinion……………….Whew. I have wanted to say that to so many Co-op’ers over the years.

Next Week Carbon Food Print

How can you eat anything with eyes? ~Will Kellogg


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Why I became a Registered Dietitian

I had previously stated that I was not the healthiest child. I was blessed with giant tonsils that were infected a couple of times a year. Once I became vegetarian, every cold or flu I got was blamed on my lack of dietary meat. My family always told me I was sick because of my diet. It’s funny, with all we know about, food and nutrition, the myth you NEED to eat meat still prevails in the general public. I was constantly having to defend my diet to my family or re-state, “No, I do not eat fish.”

After realizing I would never make a living as a watercolor artist, I chose to study Nutrition at the University of California Davis. What else could I talk about ALL day and be satisfied by but food. When I began my nutrition studies, I was surprised by the lack of Vegetarians in my class. Out of 100 nutrition undergrade students only three abstained from meet. Three %! I was surprised at how low our representation was. In California with our wild ideologies and 8% vegetarian population shurly within the nutrition community our statistics would exceed that National norm. Sadly no.   A 2009 study by the Vegetarian Resource Group reported 3% of Americans were vegetarian and 1% reported following a vegan diet.  I’m not saying that you need to be vegetarian to be healthy, it just seems that vegetarians tend to gravitate to healthier lifestyles and studies. The Vegetarian healthy user bias. As I digress……..

Now that I have finished my studies and earned my letters RD,  my purpose is to help dispel dietary myths and enhance the nutrition knowledge of any who will read……. and write.

Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.  ~George Bernard Shaw

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Why I Became Vegetarian

From humanitarian passions, religion, anti-establishment tendencies, to decreasing your carbon foot print there are many reasons people become vegetarian.  The philosophies and classifications of the lifestyle are endless: Vegan, Freegan, lacto-ova, even Pescatarian. For everyone choosing to be a vegetarian the question, “Why are you vegetarian?”  is always asked. People have been asking me this very question for sixteen years and the answers have evolved over time.

I decided to think long and hard about my answer to this question and the evolution of vegetarianism for me. Today I may answer, “I cannot eat anything I respect.” Usually the conversation ends there, but at 15 my reasons were very different. I often would answer with the diplomatic high horse, “I was often sick and decided that I needed to take my health into my own hands.  Changing my diet made me responsible for my health and nutrition.”  That was my word-vomit on the subject and recited in many college applications and papers.  In retrospect I think the honest answer was spare changing was the driving force in my dietary changes.

At 15, I would spend  afternoons skateboarding and evenings at Aric’s Java Cafe, in Fair Oaks. I would spange the cafe patrons and spend my bounty at Burger King.  Two, one dollar BK Woppers were my weekly prize. After ingesting the massive hamburgers, I was ill, very ill. This behavior lasted for months, and it got to the point that I could not eat hamburgers. Ironically, Burger King was the restaurant point that turned me vegetarian.

Some teenagers may choose vegetarianism out of lack of life control, or to give a big FU to their carnivorous parents.  Telling my mother, “I will not eat meat,” did give me certain amount of power, and kept with the anti-establishment fever I felt in high school. Overtime vegetarianism became part of my personality and ideology. I learned more about the lifestyle, drank the cool-aid, and sixteen years later I’m still part of the fold.

Vegetarianism IS  healthy and a easy to diet to maintain. I would never tell you “The world NEEDS to become vegetarian,” but I would certainly encourage anyone  interested in the diet and show you how to transition in a healthy manner.

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.

LEO TOLSTOY, On Civil Disobedience

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