After having visited with so many people over the last couple weeks, I have been thinking that writing down some of my food restrictions would be useful. A lot of people ask me about these, and when they do, they really want to get it right. Hopefully this will help.
I’ve listed the generalities first, followed by exceptions to the rules, and then some explanations.
Foods I Don’t Eat
- Meat - This includes cow, pig, chicken, fish - essentially anything with an eye except for potatoes. You can also find meat in broth, lard, beans, soup….
- Gelatin - This is in a lot of things, mostly as a thickener, though it’s used for some other things too. Look for it in marshmallows, jelly beans, Jell-O, any rubbery “candy” (like Starbursts), See’s dark chocolate, and other stuff.
- Hydrogenated oil & partially hydrogenated oil - This one is in a lot of food in the U.S. In many other countries, it has been banned. Look for it in margarine, peanut butter, candy, bread, junk food, and pretty much everything else.
- Almost all bottled drinks and sugar or corn syrup drinks - This includes Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, water, Energy drinks, etc.
- Rennet - This is sheep gut that is used to make a lot of cheese. I try to avoid it, when I can, but it’s hard to know if it’s been used.
- Jägermeister - There are rules.
- Fast food
Foods I Do Eat
- Anything not listed above (I think)
- Eggs - I’m pro choice ← That’s a joke, in case you missed it
- Milk and milk products - I’m lactose intolerant though, so I minimize it
- Beer - it’s not a soda.
- In-N-Out fast food - It’s generally a lot better than other places
Foods that Confuse Me
- Escargot - Is it meat? Is it vegetable? Do I really care if it is meat?
Reasons for the Madness
Let’s start with the big one - Why I don’t eat meat. This one usually boils down to environmental reasons. In order to create meat, you have to create animals. And to create animals, you have to feed animals. Feeding animals is a waste when you can just eat the food they would eat instead. In other words, the lower you eat on the food chain, the better it is for the environment. When you eat an animal, you are also eating all the other foods that that animal ate during its life. That’s a waste. In addition, animals like cows and pigs create incredible amounts of methane, which happens to be a rather powerful (and in my estimation, avoidable) green house gas.1
In addition to those reasons however, I ask you this: What good reasons are there to eat meat? I can think of two: It’s socially easier, and it tastes delicious. If it’s environment v. taste, I choose environment.
Moving on, hydrogenated oil is an easy one. I don’t eat it because it is REALLY, REALLY bad for you. It causes hardening of the arteries, higher cholesterol levels, diabetes, and one or two other rather impressive diseases. Like I say, they’ve banned it elsewhere, and soon it should be banned here. It’s the food industry vs. the people it serves. Eventually, with any luck, the people will win.
As for bottled drinks and corn syrup drinks, it’s a bit more complicated. The bottles are a huge environmental concern, since four out of five end up not being recycled, and since recycling isn’t a perfect process anyway. Beyond that, I don’t support the U.S. corn subsidy since it creates crazy economic scenarios that make no sense. Sugar is bad for you, I’m sensitive to caffeine (and it causes insomnia), and carbonation is bad for your teeth. Like with meat above, there is only one reason to drink these: the taste. Health, the environment, and good U.S. policy trump taste, and so I don’t drink these.
For fast food, the reasons abound, and I probably don’t need to go into them too much here. Ultimately, I don’t do fast food because of the way it is produced and the way it harms the environment and health of people around the world. I read a while back that every McDonalds burger sold in the U.S. costs about $6 in health damages down the road. That figure seems high, but clearly there is a deferred cost when eating these burgers. Again though, for me, I can’t think of any good reason TO eat fast food. It tastes nasty, slowly kills you, damages the environment, and, well, the list goes on.
Finally, as for Jägermeister, like I say, there are rules.
1According to the IPCC 100-year global warming potentials, methane is about 25 times worse than CO2
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