Interview with Will Tuttle, author of the international best-seller "The World Peace Diet"

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With Will and Madeleine Tuttle in Geneva (Switzerland)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: This interview was translated in French and can be found here.

VP: You are very well known internationally in the vegetarian and vegan communities and you received numerous awards. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself as your work is not well known in France yet.

Will: My spouse Madeleine and I have been traveling now for over 20 years, presenting between 100-150 events annually, promoting vegan living throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia. I’ve been a thriving, joyful vegan for 35 years now, and I’m most well-known for the best-selling book I wrote, The World Peace Diet, which has been published now in 15 languages. Earlier in my life, I was a Zen monk in Korea, and then I was an academic, with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on educating intuition (and strongly influenced by Bergson), as well as being a professional pianist and composer.

Many others (like you Veronique!) are also contributing in beautiful ways to the benevolent vegan (r)evolution that is happening. The World Peace Diet is unique in that it gives the truly big picture of the ramifications of our routine mistreatment of animals for food, including the spiritual, emotional, cultural, historical, health, environmental, and other dimensions, so that people can grasp the enormity of both the problem and of the opportunity we have today. As more people go vegan, we will see an absolutely massive positive shift in health, happiness, sustainability, and cultural creativity. There’s nothing more important anyone can do than to make an effort to understand the ramifications of our food choices. That’s why, I believe, sales for The World Peace Diet have been so strong, and why it continues to be published around the world in other languages as well.

VP: Your book “The World Peace Diet” is a major international best-seller and is finally translated in French. What made you want to write it in the first place?

Will: In writing The World Peace Diet, one of my inspirations was to bring our culture’s routine mistreatment of animals for food and other products from the periphery of cultural concerns to the very center—to help people understand that the mentality of violence required by our most basic action—eating—is the spinning fury, hidden at the core of our culture, that generates the crises and problems we face both individually and collectively. Switching to a plant-based diet for ethical reasons is the ultimate spiritual statement in a culture such as ours that routinely and relentlessly kills over hundreds of millions animals daily for food. I feel it’s essential to bring the spiritual dimension to the vegan movement. This is the foundation of ethics, justice, and vegan living—awakening our inherent compassion and wisdom, questioning the indoctrinated disconnectedness that our culturally-imposed meal rituals impose on us, and changing our behavior to reflect our natural, deeply-held human values of respect, cooperation, and caring for others. We all know that we reap what we sow, and we all know that nonhuman animals are capable of suffering.

Going vegan is both a cause of and an effect of spiritual growth. As we nurture our bodies with organic, whole, plant-based foods, we cleanse internally, and our mind and emotions can relax, and we naturally begin to feel and understand directly the interconnectedness of all life. This essential awareness lives in all of us, waiting to be awakened. That is the spiritual journey we are on, whether we know it or not, and it is intimately connected to vegan living. As we travel and talk with folks all over the world, we hear this a lot: many have told us that upon going vegan, unexpected positive internal shifts happened, and they feel more confident, relaxed, at peace, and at the same time, a greater awareness of the underlying violence and deceit in our culture. There is a lot more on this of course in The World Peace Diet.

 

VP: Being your student, I have read your book several times and the chapter I still prefer is the one on Sophia. Would you explain a little what you’re talking about in this chapter.

Will: Yes, Chapter 7 is entitled “The Domination of the Feminine” and it cites two prime examples: the hen and the cow. “Dominating others requires us to disconnect from them.” Humans dominating animals and also men dominating women: this mentality of domination is probably the biggest mistake we humans make. It plays out in relationships between men and women, and also in many other ways as well. Domination requires disconnection and also reduction. Most women know how it is to be looked at as “meat” and as men, we are taught early on to look at women in that way, as we are taught to look at certain animals as well. I would not say, though, that it is easy for our species to disconnect. We have to be forced into it. I refer to a crucial aspect of our innate wisdom as Sophia, who was the Greek goddess of wisdom. This sacred feminine wisdom is brutally suppressed by forcing us as children to participate in mealtime rituals of eating blood and violence. We’ve got to remember the ferocity of the ritualized programming we have all endured. It’s tremendously powerful. From the time we lose our mother’s breast, we are forced to eat the flesh and secretions of abused animals in the most significant and relentless rituals in our culture: our daily meals. Veganism is essentially the resurrection of the feminine wisdom of Sophia within all of us, the wisdom that protects life and nurtures our children and cares for the health of our communities and our Earth.

 

VP: Would you tell us about one of the personal stories you mention in your book?

Will: In Chapter 14 of The World Peace Diet I describe how I went fishing, caught a couple of fish, and then had to repeatedly slam them against the floor to kill them. Looking back on it now, 40 years later, I can see that it definitely was a seminal moment in my life. I was quite an avid fisher in my youth, and was always proud when I caught some fish. When I went fishing within the new context of the spiritual pilgrimage that I went on at the age of 22, I suddenly saw fishing in a whole new light, and saw the cold, cruel violence of trickery and deceit as the blinders fell away. I suddenly felt compassion for the fish I was killing! I never fished again and within a couple of months, never ate fish in my life again either.

 

VP: Do you consider that the foundation for a peaceful world starts with our food?

Will: Our meals of hidden violence are devastating our Earth, torturing millions of beautiful and sensitive animals daily, and laying waste the inner landscape of our thoughts and feelings. The wars, diseases, neuroses, and crimes we see around and within us have their genesis in the wars, diseases, neuroses, and violent crimes we inflict on billions of animals routinely and completely unnecessarily. The basic sense of disempowerment many of us feel to change “the system” derives directly from our daily meals, which are the rituals that keep us as domineering agents of slavery and commodification, enslaved ourselves!

I am seeing increasing numbers of us “get” the message of The World Peace Diet and begin to share it with others, and this is the foundation of the healing of our world and of our culture and ourselves. We will continue to be merely ironic in our quests for peace, justice, and sustainability until we make the connections between animals as beings deserving of respect and these animals as products on our plates. When we authentically come into alignment with our true nature of compassion and wisdom and share this uplifting and liberating understanding with others, we will then be worthy of celebrating our lives on this beautiful and abundant planet. I encourage everyone to make an effort to understand the consequences of our food choices, to teach a community course on The World Peace Diet, and to spread the message of kindness, not just for ourselves, but for all living beings and all future generations. As they say, “We are the ones we are waiting for!”

 

VP: What is the important core message of your book?

Will: The essential message of The World Peace Diet is that the hidden core of our culture is herding animals for food and other products. This requires that everyone born into our culture be injected with a set of behaviors and attitudes that are not in our best interest, and are devastating to animals and to the ecosystems of our Earth. Some aspects of this set of attitudes are the mentality of disconnectedness that every meal requires, as well as the mentality of domination, elitism, exclusivism, and commodification of other living beings, and of the entire living world. Veganism is the most powerful alternative paradigm to our culture’s internal and external disease, because it’s not just theoretical, it’s solidly practical. It touches every dimension of our life: our meals, our clothing, our entertainment, and ultimately, the way we think about all others in our life. Veganism is the polar and transcending opposite of our Western culture, and it is what will, ultimately, heal that violent, oppressive, and suicidal mentality and its endless woes, and usher in a new world of undreamt possibilities of freedom, equality, and fraternity for all. We don’t have to fight against the old paradigm, though! That gives it more strength! Instead, we are called to focus on the positive changes we yearn to see, and to embody them in our thinking and behavior, and share them creatively with everyone we can.

VP: L’Association Végétarienne de France (note: The French Vegetarian Association in fact promotes veganism) is involved with the Cop 21 climate conference in Paris, what message would you like to give to all the participants of this climate conference.

Will: Victor Hugo is credited with saying that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. There is mounting evidence that global climate change may well bring an inconceivable catastrophe to humanity and to the Earth within the next century. It turns out that the main driving force behind global climate change is also behind human disease, environmental pollution, massive animal cruelty, and the whole range of dilemmas we are attempting to solve. The routine confinement and slaughter of millions of animals every day for food is catastrophic and must be explicitly addressed at COP21.

The most forcibly ignored cause of global warming is eating meat and dairy products; it’s the greatest source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 297 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, as well as methane gas, which is 30 times more powerful. The science on this is unequivocal, and in addition, eating animals requires massive amounts of fossil fuel inputs, directly pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We are transporting over seventy percent of our corn, soybeans, oats, and other grains to animals, pumping water to irrigate these fields, manufacturing millions of pounds of fossil fuel- based fertilizer and pesticides, and housing and slaughtering billions of animals yearly. The end result of all this is that while it takes only two calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of protein from soybeans, and three calories for wheat and corn, it takes 54 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of protein from beef.

The primary driving force behind deforestation is cattle grazing and clearing land to grow soybeans and other grains to feed factory-farmed chickens, pigs, and fish. This is a further major contributor to global warming. In addition, sixty percent of our fish are now factory-farmed, causing severe water pollution and genetic damage to wild fish populations. Our limitless demand for fish that are used for feeding factory-farmed fish, birds, and mammals has brought our oceans to the brink of collapse. As the threat of global climate destabilization grows, we will hopefully begin to realize that the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (and environmental pollution) is to reduce meat and dairy consumption.

Research has also revealed that buying locally grown meat, eggs, and dairy is not significant in its impact on our carbon footprint. Additionally, as the recent documentary Cowspiracy demonstrates, eating “free-range” and “organic” meat, dairy, and eggs does not substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because free- range cattle, for example, are not fattened as quickly as feedlot cattle, so they cause a greater greenhouse gas footprint in many cases.

To their credit, more journalists are coming forth, encouraging people to reduce meat and dairy consumption to save the Earth from climate break- down. Let’s amplify their call! The situation is critical. As the Worldwatch Institute has bluntly concluded, “It has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future.”

 

VP: I know you travel a lot around the world giving lectures to packed rooms. What would be a message you would give to a French audience?

Will: The main message of The World Peace Diet is to make essential connections that haven’t been made before. We have all been taught to disconnect and to practice disconnecting by our culturally mandated food practices. My work is to address this nearly invisible mentality of exclusion and its effects from many perspectives—the historic, psychological, sociological, spiritual, and ecological. What I say is not new. Pythagoras, Buddha, Da Vinci, Tolstoy, Einstein, Schweitzer, Gandhi, and many others have all said the same things, but more as aphorisms. The World Peace Diet is the first book to go into the connections in depth and show the big picture of our culture.

I feel that French people have, in many ways, a natural affinity to the vegan message. The French people are known for their sense of respect for nature and for their love of fine cuisine and their sensitivity to the romantic and loving aspects of life. Vegan living embraces and nurtures all these dimensions of our life, and also contributes to more healthy familial and social relationships. The French Revolution exemplified the idealism that the French people are capable of, and again, veganism is a deep and heartfelt dedication to the ideals of liberty, equality, solidarity, and caring, all of which are dear to the hearts, historically, of the French people. There is also the spiritual yearning that has characterized many aspects of French culture. To grow spiritually, we are called to question the official narratives of violence, and understand our cultural programming. This has been taught by Voltaire, Rousseau, Pascal, Camus, Sartre, Hugo, de Beauvoir, Bergson, Comte, Teillhard de Chardin, Durkheim, Weil, and many other remarkable French philosophers and writers.

 

VP: Thank you Will for all your inspiring comments. Is there anything you would like to add?

Will: Until we become aware, it’s difficult to change, but with awareness, we can grow in wisdom and contribute to a healthier and more harmonious world. The World Peace Diet points out the roots of our dilemmas and suffering, hidden in plain sight. Its main message is that we have been deceived by our cultural conditioning into seeing ourselves as essentially predatory, and by relentlessly eating like predators, we have created predatory economic and social institutions that create enormous suffering. When we awaken to our true nature, we see clearly that our greatest joy and satisfaction come in blessing, cooperating, creating, giving, encouraging, loving, protecting, and caring. We see the interconnectedness of all living beings, and can awaken to the deep spiritual truths that bring authentic freedom.

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© Copyright January 2016 – Vegan Empowerment/Veronique Perrot – All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or publication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

DEFIANT DAUGHTERS: A (personal) review

Having always loved Carol Adam’s « The Sexual Politics of Meat », I plunged very eagerly into this book by women who have been influenced by her and this started a fascinating journey into the personal experiences of these women of varied backgrounds.

My own feminism started after being physically assaulted in the early 90s. Until that point, I was playing into the game of what women were supposed to be according to men: desirable objects. I didn’t realize that I had become this dismembered being, wanted for certain attributes. I had fooled myself into believing that seduction led to empowerment and finally realized that this was the opposite. I was just playing into a game set up for thousands of years by men. Carol Adams’ book opened my eyes to the truth.

My food disorders also started around that time. After so many years, and a lot of self-therapy and regular therapy, I mostly found peace and I, particularly, found Veganism which I used as a tool of healing and reconciliation with myself. I am far from where I want to be, but my healing is continuing and it allows me to help others, humans and non-humans as I am able to. This book is God-sent with its true stories or women searching for themselves in a male dominated society which still calls the shots on what women are supposed to be.

From the get go, I was struck by the power of the stories presented by each author in this book. So much sincerity can hardly let someone leave the book feeling nothing. But what really grabbed me was the sense of being among soul sisters, regardless of their various background or journeys.

In each woman’s story, I saw part of myself. Having grown up in France where we have a large Muslim community in which I mingled a bit, I could relate to Ruby Hamad’s story.

Having gone through my own alcohol, cigarettes and food addictions as well as body image problems, Kim Socha’s story touched me deeply.

Jennifer Grubb’s story about breastfeeding her child reminded me of what other women I have known have confronted in a society which considers breasts as sexual and not nurturing. I personally never had or wanted children but, as a woman, this was still personal.

Colleen Martell’s struggle with being a vegetarian outside of home reminded me of my own and how I isolated myself and will only go eat with Vegans in Vegan places and can’t tolerate the non-Vegan world anymore. How do we create balance when we still are a minority that is still ridiculed by the majority? How do we deal with the disconnectedness of other people even when they are presented with the truth? These issues I have struggled with since I went Vegan in 2006 and Colleen’s story rang true to me.

Sunaura Taylor’s view of animals as disabled beings is something I had never thought off but made total sense. They are bred to become disabled and then dismembered victims. She also makes a wonderful point about the use of some words and reminded me of the importance I place on words and language in general in my own advocacy. That is something so often ignored in the animal rights and Vegan movement.

Carolyn Mullin’s story of her Mexican heritage fascinated me as, having Mexican neighbors does not obviously make me knowledgeable about Mexican culture, particularly when it comes to women and the difficulty in finding women role-models who are not domestic workers or house makers. I had no idea for instance that so many women had been enslaved during the Mexican Revolution. This was a (sad) revelation. I was also fascinated by the calendar girls’ history and it’s white domination underlying. And the biggest surprise was for me to learn that Jack London had tried to get Ringling Brothers to stop using animals in the circus. Carolyn’s vast knowledge of museums put me back in touch with my love of antiquity and visiting museums as a kid. However, I never wanted to see a museum of natural history for the gruesome displays of « preserved » animal bodies. The animal advocacy movement constantly revisits old themes.

Dallas Rising’s story of her rape by a weirdo from a Star Trek convention was strangely reminiscent of my own sexual assault by a weirdo who was a Star Trek maniac and wore a lot of Star Trek uniforms (please note that I am still a Star Trek fan in spite of it). I love Dallas’ work with Midwest Vegan Radio (and miss the podcast). Her comments about the so-called « happy meat » movement and what some welfare animal organizations spoke deeply to my abolitionist liberationist position and how I relate to the movement in general. This particular paragraph resonated deeply with me: « I worried for years that it was my fault because my rape didn’t look like that. But it was still rape and it was still wrong and it still left me traumatized and wounded. Hearing people advocate for cage-free eggs or asking people to go vegetarian instead of vegan when they know the violence inherent in the dairy and egg industries is, to me, exactly like hearing that my rape doesn’t count. I wasn’t violated to the degree that they feel is sufficient to be worth speaking out against. »

Finally, Jasmin Singer’s story is one I was excited to read as I am a big fan of Our Hen House and the wonderful work she and Mariann Sullivan do to raise awareness of animal issues and feminism. Jasmin’s story talked to me on various levels. I was bullied in school by both boys and other girls. I remember one spilling a red liquid on my bed without me noticing so that my clothes would be smeared in red to look like I was menstruating and being later humiliated in public because I had failed to notice it. I remember being madly in love with this 16 year old guy until I found out he was using me for a bet with his friends and being crushed for month. A few years later, I was assaulted by a « friend » of mine in my parents’ home and he ran out the door leaving me completely lost and terrified. I hated men so much that I turned to lesbianism for a few years and even had a couple of girlfriends. The difference with Jasmin is that I was always bi-sexual and never ended up rejecting men. By the way, I am not implying that lesbianism is a result of rape but that it was to me a way of healing and finding who I was. Jasmin beautifully makes the connection between the rapes of mother cows on the « rape racks » (which is an industry term) and women’s own experience with assault. « I recalled watching the footage of factory farming, of cows screaming, and I thought of the many times I would leave rehearsal from a play that focused on rape, and get some ice cream on the way home – a « food » that was the byproduct of, in essence, rape ». I couldn’t say it better.

And I could go on and on about all the wonderful stories in this book. Whether their stories related to mine is irrelevant in the end. We are all sisters and we all face the same ugly patriarchy and all its difficulties thrown at us as women.

I am so grateful for this anthology and the beautiful stories from everyone of these women who are not only remarkable human beings but incredible animal advocates and Vegans (and near Vegans).

Carol Adams’ books shaped most of my own writing to this day. If there was ever a second book like this one, I would apply to write my own story and add it to this necessary book’s mission of educating more women and men to feminism and Veganism.

As women of the world are raped, abused, and killed in wars started by men so are our animal sisters who are also raped, abused and killed in a war against them started by men. All this is also damaging to men as it prevents them from developing empathy and respect for both women and animals. It is impossible to not make the connection once you read both The Sexual Politics of Meat and this wonderful anthology. Everyone is being consumed by patriarchy.

© copyright November 2013- All rights reserved

Defiant Daughters

LIVING AMONG MEAT EATERS by Carol J. Adams

I previously read Carol J. Adams’ classic The Sexual Politics of Meat but didn’t review it (something I should correct!) and I consider it one of the best books ever. Carol J. Adams was justly inducted in the Animal Rights Hall of Fame at the Animal Rights Conference in 2011. I was there and that made me extremely happy.  So I went ahead and digged out a less known treasure she wrote a few years ago. The edition I have borrowed from my public library is from 2001.

One of the struggles of anyone going vegetarian/vegan for the first time (the author addresses both but with emphasis on vegans) has to do with dealing with peers. Parents, family, friends, co-workers, etc… have all known us for being… well.. « us » for so long that they suddenly have to face this new « us » which comes with new « conditions ». Thanksgiving is not the same anymore because we don’t want to eat the dead bird anymore, lunch with co-workers is done with them looking weirdly at the kale on our plate, etc… As the new « you » comes into play, also comes other peoples’ bad sides as they have to be faced with you not wanting to fit anymore. So how do you handle this new paradigm? For a lot of Vegans, making the shift makes us realize the suffering we never saw before. It makes us angry. Suddenly, we want to go out there and fight the good fight. We get angry at people who don’t « get it » and we forget that we were once in their shoes. That anger, for most of us, calms down and becomes transmuted into positive activism. For some, it is very hard to get past. What remains is the difficulty to deal with people who are judgmental, aggressive, and pretty much think we are freaks and to whom we have to deal with on a daily basis. So how do we do that? Well, that is when this terrific book from Carol J. Adams can be useful.

I must admit to having read it with great pleasure. It gave me new ideas, tools I had not though about in terms of relating intelligently with people who are not Vegans. As a (soon to be) Health Coach, it is also a valuable tool as it will help me take people on a journey towards their health by progressively going Vegans and open raise their consciousness to become more compassionate as well. My favorite point in the book is what she calls Being at peace and repairing the hole in our conscience. It is reminiscent of what Will Tuttle describes in his book The World Peace Diet regarding the conditioning we all have received since birth. Carol Adams explains that every non Vegan lives with a hole in his conscience because he misses that part of him/herself that relates to animals and compassion. Repairing the hole in the conscience means making the connection and wake up to the Vegan and animal lover within (i am paraphrasing). For us Vegans, it is vital to be at peace with our diet and not apologize for it. Who needs to apologize? meat eaters, not you. You are following your conscience. It doesn’t mean that you have to hurt them by being nasty and say things like « you’re a selfish meat head » even if we sometimes secretly desire to say so. One excellent reasoning (extract from the book) is this one:

« If you are at peace, maybe they, too, could be at peace living without meat.

If you are not at peace, why should they try?

Are you at peace?

If you are, how do you communicate that sense of peace?

If you aren’t, what is needed to discover a sense of peace? »

These arguments are all valid, I experienced them. I used to feel that I was on a mission to convert my co-workers (and the planet!) to Veganism in an agressive way, therefore taking the angry Vegan approach of pointing out how they ate dead carcasses at each meal. And even though the argument is true, it does not work. People get turned off. Being the example, being the motivator is what makes people ask questions. When I changed my attitude and became comfortable with being this real « me », people also changed a bit around me. People reflect what is in you. What is within, is outside too. For instance, an ex-collegue of mine suddenly got interested in my diet and started asking questions. So I loaned her the documentary « A Delicate Balance » (which I recommend by the way) and « Got the Facts on Milk » (another good one). She later told me that she actually went ahead and bought Kris Carr’s book « Crazy Sexy Diet » (Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! ) which kicks ass in terms of diet and what Kris thinks of animals. Another one sees me drink a big juice (freshly done with my juicer at home) at work each day. Once again, don’t push, let them come and they will ask. She said I was inspiring her to get healthy. So who knows? that may be a good sign (and her diet is McDonald’s). I get asked about what I eat almost each day and even though they may not change to Veganims soon, I am planting seeds which is a lot more efficient than being in their face with agressive words. As Carol Adams says, they are all « blocked Vegetarians » (Will Tuttle uses the term Pre-Vegan which is another variant on the meaning).

The biggest challenge of most Vegans is social, not being an activist. We are activists the moment we stop eating animals and their secretions. But it doesn’t stop there obviously. The way we relate to other people is what determine our effectiveness at spreading the message that Veganism is the way to free animals and ourselves. Carol quotes Mary Midgley at the beginning of her book. This quote sums up a lot of what we face on a daily basis:

« The symbolism of meat-eating is never neutral. To himself, the meat-eater seems to be eating life. To the Vegetarian, he seems to be eating death. There is a kind of gestalt-shift between the two positions which makes it hard to change, and hard to raise questions on the matter at all without becoming embattled. »

So it is a big point. Once again mirroring the fact that people are conditioned, they are also seeing the world in what seems upside down to us. We see them eat death and we try to open their eyes to that fact just to fall on deaf ears. What is the matter with them? Why don’t they get it? One way to cope with this is once again to see meat eaters as blocked vegetarians. « This person has a problem with my vegetarianism. It is their problem, not mine ». Think that way, and you will be more at peace. Vegans make meat eaters uneasy, that is inevitable as we appeal to their inner compassionate selves, the part of themselves that wants to remain comfortable and not disturbed. As the author points out, the mere fact of being in the room with non-vegans is already disturbing (if they are aware that you are vegetarians/vegans). She says it well: « People have many explanations for eating meat; vegetarians have heard all of them. If their explanations sound hollow, it may be because they are. For some people, their predicament is not so much that they choose to eat meat as that they have chosen not to change. As a result, interactions are often really about the nature of change – or, more precisely, not changing. » That is very true.

While Vegans can manifest their just anger for the suffering of animals, it is probably harder for them to deal with the anger they generate by being « different ». Look at this quoted Bumper Sticker in Texas: « Eat low on the food chaing. Barbecue a vegetarian. » or this one: « Vegetarians welcome… to watch us eat steak » (from a Minnesota Steak House). These are pure examples of blocked vegetarians, nihilists and people denying themselves. They have a Hole in their conciousness. There is not much we can do for these type but I have seen examples of what seems impossible. An episode of « 30 days » was about a hunter being asked to spend 30 days of his life among PETA Vegan activists and adopt their lifestyles. He accepts the challenge determined to not change and go home a happy meat eating hunter. During the process, he goes to PETA protests, helps rescue a calf (and nurtures him) and works in a Farm Animal sanctuary and get exposed to the animals. What is remarkable is how he transforms unwillingly during the 30 days of his new temporary life. By the time this is over, he still wants to go back hunting (sounded more like macho bravado than real desire to do so) but WE know he is not the same anymore. We SEE how he is transformed. That is the power of the truth. Another great example is the excellent documentary « Vegucated » which I highly recommend to show to non-Vegans. I agree with Carol that the people who are the most aggressive with you are probably the ones most susceptible to change. Their feelings are, as she points out, the most on the surface than people who casually dismiss Vegans as just freaks but don’t really bother them (or so they think). The more defensive the person, the more he or she feels guilty deep down and the more that person may change in the future. I see the defensiveness as a challenge, but a welcome one. That is hopeful.

The rest of Carol J. Adams’ book is filled with tips and good things to say in every situations from work to your sharing of the home kitchen. She goes into every aspects of the daily life, from raising kids, dealing with co-workers to living/loving a non-Vegan. You will not regret getting this book. It is a wonderful practical tool.

Healthy at 100 by John ROBBINS

Bestselling author John Robbins (author of Diet For a New America) continues his beautiful work of helping people change the way they live with this no less beautiful book: Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of The World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. By analysing the mysterious cultures of Abkhasia in the Caucasus, Vilcabamba, Hunza and the Okinawans in Japans, John Robbins demonstrates the similarities of lifestyles and social connections. How can we not be struck by the beauty of each of these communities, the simplicity in which they live and the loving relationships demonstrated in each of them.

Based on that, the author presents several chapters showing each of the aspects of what makes these cultures unique: diet, fitness, social structures. He then takes the lessons learned from these people and show how we can apply their age old wisdoms to our daily lives. Nowhere does he preach to give up our modern ways but to reclaim what we have lost, our sense of community, our sense of what makes a good meal and our vision of what old age is supposed to be. He shows us the power of love, long ridiculed by « modern » medicine but embraced by these healthy old people.

But the striking difference between these cultures and ours is how they treat their elders. They are valued, respected, listened to. We put ours in retirement home and spend thousands of dollars on trying to stay young and keeping them alive. They embrace old age. And they embrace it well considering that they age without all the ailments that we suffer from in the western world. We lose our « marbles » as John Robbins say in our modern world, they keep theirs until they die, well into their 100th year. They can walk for hours and faster than us. So what makes them different?

Well, as indicated above, there is the factor of how they live with each other and how they see old age. But there is also what they eat. They don’t stuff themselves on processed foods, and tons of animal flesh. They actually barely ever eat any of that. Their diet consist of mostly whole foods, sometimes just picked raw with very little or not animal foods like milk and rarely meat. You could say they are near vegans, which is now proven to be the healthiest diet on earth. But diet alone does not explains their extraordinary healthy longevity. They also have a very active lifestyle consisting of physical work and long walks. Therefore, they are also very fit starting in youth and they carry it all the way to their late years. The book describe instances of visitors not being able to keep up with these people who were 40 years older than them!

Their connection to each other seemed to me being the major factor creating the difference. Diet and exercise of course make a huge difference but if you have loving and respectful relationships between the generations, your quality of life is proven to improve dramatically. John Robbins shows how major studies in the western world are now proving the importance of « love » between people and how that affect health in the short and long terms. Until recent years, it was considered unrelated and generally ridiculed.

There is clearly something that needs to be learned from these cultures. How backward really is our view of aging when all is considered is up to us. We are wiping out these people’s cultures by invading them with our western ways. I am just sad thinking about what is being lost. In Okinawa, for example, younger people have adopted the western diet and habits. They are dying younger and faster than their elders who have kept their old ways. How sad!

So please read this book, it will bring you a new perspective on age and also point you to what needs to be done to save ourselves from this misery.

healthy at 100

© Copyright October 2010 – All Rights Reserved

BREAKING THE FOOD SEDUCTION by Dr. Neal Barnard

In this important book, Dr. Barnard (founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) deconstructs food addictions for us in a concise, easy to understand format. You won’t find boring scientific explanations in this book. On the contrary, this is a page turner! Not bad for a health book. Not only does Dr. Barnard tells you why certain foods are addictive and what they do to your body but he helps us break free of them with simple methods. I thought this book was a great complement to Alicia Silverstone’s « The Kind Diet » which I reviewed previously and coincidently.

But Dr. Barnard’s book also contains a lot of recipes to keep you happy and mouth watering. I can’t wait to try these as well. But more important is the wealth of information i have acquired in this great book. Thank you Dr. Barnard for everything you do to raise awareness about the benefits of a balanced vegan diet.

THE KIND DIET By Alicia Silverstone

What a joy it is to have picked up this book. It is pretty, elegant and even classy. The book is well organized into various sections for ease of use. Alicia’s pictures of life at home and of various gourmet dishes are delectable. Her writing is thoughtful and witty. She doesn’t preach, she encourages and is the first, to my knowledge, to point out that our bodies are designed for a plant based diet and not an animal based one! Finally! I am sure she is not the only one but she explains it in a short but to the point paragraph and, once again, without preaching.

Alicia Silverstone’s recipes look so yummy, i want to eat them all. She organized them in three sections: Flirting, Vegan and Superhero (I love the choice of words!). And reading this sections made me realize that i was still flirting as in still replacing former meat centered dishes with vegan versions instead of the revamp that she talks about in the « vegan » section. The « superhero » section is for the die hard committed vegans wanting to get into macrobiotic as well. Strangely enough, it seems easier to me than the « vegan » section but more demanding than the « flirting » section.

So go ahead and explore this book as either a vegan or not. Anyone will appreciate this book’s very approachable style. My only critic of it is that Alicia uses a lot of « exotic » ingredients which might throw off some people. I admit to not be familiar with a lot of them but being willing to learn and discover new things. Whatever approach you choose in picking up this book, there is something for every one in there. And yes, I still want to try all the recipes. hehe

 

© Copyright July 2010 – All Rights Reserved. Printing by permission only.