The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan are two books that have influenced my eating habits tremendously.
They have led me to eat less meat, try to exclude milk from my diet, read the labels on all the food I buy, and be more leery of USDA recommendations on what I should and should not include in my diet (the dairy and beef industries have deep pockets and lots of lobbyists in Washington).
You could say that I’m passionate about this. So passionate, in fact, that many of my friends have been informed over dinner about why I buy soy milk and why I study food labels in the grocery store. Most of them think I’m crazy and could care less about processed foods and controlling their meat intake. I’ve learned that I can’t force them to change, and I try to not let their disdain for my views cause me to change.
I do face some discrimination, but I can deal with that. One of my friends, not knowing I was trying out vegetarianism, told me that he couldn’t be friends with a vegetarian. I just smiled and nodded.
Now, imagine if legislation were passed that made eating meat illegal. Outback, Black Angus, and Ruth’s Chris would all be shut down over night if they didn’t change their menus. If the steakhouses somehow found a way to serve contraband beef, there would be extreme legal implications. The vegetarians would go mad, call their lawyers, and make sure not a single ounce of meat was served, no matter the cost to the shut-out businesses.
In this battle, who’s right, the vegetarians or the meat-eating majority? I don’t think it matters. It has often been said that any given man or woman is free to do whatever he or she wants until his or her hand hits the next person’s face. In other words, the meat eaters are free to eat meat, and the vegetarians are free to abstain, but neither group can force its views on any other group without infringing upon the freedoms of others.
You’re probably wondering where this post came from and where it’s going. In a roundabout way, it’s about Proposition 8 in California. There is a substantial group of people in California that are absolutely appalled that marriage is currently defined as between only a man and a woman. Their personal views have given them a broader definition of what marriage is, and they are fighting for legislation to make their view the legal view. From a human rights standpoint, they have a pretty good argument. But have they thought about what will happen to other people if the definition of marriage is changed and enforced? Honestly, I don’t think most of them care.
If Proposition 8 doesn’t pass, Born Again pastors, Mormon bishops, Catholic priests, and other religious leaders who are legally authorized to perform marriages in California could be forced to perform same-sex marriages, even if, for moral reasons, they oppose the practice. I can only imagine the legal battles and the detriment California’s religious organizations would face if they were to oppose performing gay marriages.
My views on food are shared by only a minority of people. It is one thing for me to talk about them with friends and family, but it’s another thing for me to use the law to make them everyone’s standard. I will admit that changes must be made to accommodate the freedoms of all, but voting no on Proposition 8 is not the way to do it. A subject this delicate needs delicate legislation that guarantees that my fist won’t hit my neighbor’s face, and vice versa.
One company I really like is Seventh Generation. As a guiding rule, they think of the effect their products will have not only on the next generation, but up to seven generations and beyond. As we vote in this election, no matter what state we’re in, let us vote thinking of more than just the immediate effect our yes or no will have.
And if you’re in California, vote YES on Proposition 8.