Sunday, April 20, 2014

#160 - A Different Take on Easter

Happy Easter, everyone! In the Christian world, Easter is the day when the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated. At least that's the case amongst Christian adults. I suspect their children are more interested in finding out what the Easter Bunny brought them.

Easter has a different or an added meaning in our household. Two years ago on Easter, our family made the decision to stop consciously eating any and all animal products - no meat, no dairy, no poultry, no seafood. People who knew of my love of steak and five-meat pizza were sure this would be a short-lived experiment. They were wrong.

We are now two years into this change, and I don't think any of us has looked back. Does that mean we never slip? No, but we have done our best to stay on what we see as a healthier, more humane, more sustainable and less resource-intensive eating path. By and large, we have succeeded.

Recently, I finished reading an English translation of The Upanishads, one of the most sacred texts in Hindu spirituality. Throughout the text, I was struck by the many similarities between what the Hindu and Christian faiths believe and profess. I was convinced anew of the truth and the wisdom of the old adage "there are many paths to the mountaintop."

Toward the end of my reading, I was especially struck by a passage in the Taittiriya Upanishad dealing with food. These five lines spoke directly to the reason for our dietary change and served to further underline the validity of our reasons for that change:

From food are made all bodies, which become
Food  again for others after their death.
Food is the most important of all things
For the body; therefore it is the best
Medicine for all the body's ailments.
(Taittiriya II.2.1)
We have tried and struggled at times to reduce if not eliminate our intake of processed food, and it is to this effort specifically that this passage speaks. Thanks to economies of scale and highly efficient production methods, processed food is usually less expensive than the natural ingredients sometimes used to help make that processed meal. To me, something is wrong with that picture.

I believe healthy food is a basic human right. I also believe that people have a right to know where their food comes from, what is in the food they eat (GMO grains, hormones, chemicals, etc.), and how their food is produced (are livestock raised using humane or inhumane methods, for instance).

I also believe those who risk much to expose unsanitary and/or inhumane food production methods should be applauded. They should not be accused of a crime, as is fast becoming the common response across America. (Note the spate of so-called "Ag-Gag" legislation popular in agricultural states in recent years, including Idaho, where we live.)

Some of those considerations played a part in our decision to change how and what we eat. Some of the medical research also played a part (e.g., Dr. T. Colin Campbell's The China Study). Ultimately though, I suppose we made the decision because it felt like it was the right thing to do for ourselves, for our son, and for our planet. How could we go wrong? Happy Easter and healthy eating!

(The Upanishads - translation by Eknath Easwaran. © 1987, 2007 The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Published by Nilgiri Press.)

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