Saturday, October 18, 2014

Healthy Eating -- Sacrifice or Investment?

Healthy Eating -- Sacrifice or Investment? We all invest our earnings to secure our financial future. We invest time and energy in our closest relationships to make sure we’re covered emotionally. We invest in education to make sure we have the necessary skills to sustain a living. The wiser among us also ‘invest’ time and effort in exercising regularly to keep the physical body healthy, albeit the motivation is often rather short-sighted—staying fit and looking good. But what about ‘investing' in the food that powers our body and mind and, thereby, our very existence in this lifetime?!

No, choosing rice crispies over raisin bran, diet soda over regular, chicken over beef and pork, and 100-calorie ice cream over another dessert is not the kind of investment I’m alluding to; they’re all essentially the same processed trash--completely unnatural to our physiology. In fact, most leaner foods have more devastating effects on health than their plumper cousins. Think about it, how does a preparation get to have lower calories than its ingredients? Calories don’t vanish in thin air; the ingredients themselves are engineered.

Eating foods in their naturally available form and without hurting other sentient beings is the path Man has to lead to ensure prolonged sustainability of the entire Ecosystem. Very unfortunately though, we live in a culture where choosing a salad is seen as ‘sacrificing' ‘tastier’ foods, passing on processed snacks as being 'finicky', and being vegan often invites cautiously sympathetic comments like ‘oh poor you, there’s nothing for you to eat!’ from 'normal' folks who walk around devouring on dead animals and charred veggies... =(

But is it really a sacrifice? Or could eating wisely be a very prudent investment?! 

Let's start with the self. Usually energetic in the initial decades, we take good health for granted. The simple, yet profound, realization that vitality simply cannot co-exist with an ailing physical body doesn't dawn upon most people until their late 50's or 60's! One might argue that quadriplegics live fulfilling lives too. But that's only when their general health cooperates, not when life is an endless drag of waiting at doctors' offices, popping pills, and getting bypass procedures and implants...

That this body is ephemeral, fragile, and needs a continous investment is a realization that usually only dawns with the ambulance siren. Bill Clinton went vegan at 64 after two coronary implants; million others change their eating habits at a similar age. It is possible to start saving only from this paycheck but one cannot get back the money already spent. Likewise for health. Past negligence to our body simply cannot be undone with medical intervention and prescriptions at a later age.

Only a healthy body can be home to a healthy mind; only a healthy mind brings vitality and exuberance. All our hopes, aspirations, and dreams originate in the mind and are executed via the physical body. It is the individual dreams and aspirations that builds a society, nation, world, and eventually, shapes the future of humanity.

Moving on to world and humanity, we strive to invest money to send our kids to college and in research to find cures for the deadliest diseases known today. But these measures are both myopic and deceptive considering the rate at which our soil, water, and air are being polluted with toxic industrial by-products. Any guess on the single largest contributor to global warming, drought, and poisoning of our environment? It's the meat industry and the processed food industry! The time to be in denial was 50 years back...

Today, ironically--and naively--while we work day and night to 'save' enough for our kids and dream of them getting married and popping out grand kids for us, we continue to squander and deplete the very ecosystem that is quintessential to support them! It takes 1,799 gallons of water to make 1 pound beef and only 80 and 60 gallons each for 1 pound apples and oranges. Checkout out the excellent hidden water info-graphic published by National Geographic.

Further, think about the resources spent in packaging, transporting, and storing processed foods around the world. How many single-use plastic take out containers, spoons, forks, (non-biodegradable) packets of chips, soda cans, ZiCo bottles... does each person toss in trash every week?! How often do we take the time to sort these in appropriate compost. recycle and landfill bins? Ever wondered where this trash goes and who will excavate it from land and seas alike? Our grand and great-grand kids. =(

Alas, today's culture sees the environment and Nature as distant, indestructible, eternal elements instead of delicate threads that weave and sustain the fabric of all Life on Earth. Invest in that fabric and Life will flourish. Or sacrifice our grand dreams for the future of humanity.