Further to last week’s post about what the hell to eat, I made the mistake of watching Food Choices last night on Netflix. Why was it a mistake? Because despite the documentarian’s earnest effort to not let his own journey serve as judgment, I felt that I was doing the eating thing wrong AGAIN. It’s essentially an exploration of how westerners eat and that if we only could embrace a plant-based lifestyle, every single one of our problems would go away.
He interviews experts with lots of letters after their names who remind us mortals that we’re eating all wrong. We don’t need animal protein, one Doctor Muckity-Muck states. We can get all the protein we need from vegetation. Even hunter-gatherers, says Doctor I-know-way-more-than-you, didn’t eat that much animal protein. And for the sake of all that is kale and tempeh, stop drinking another species’ milk! Only we ridiculous humans drink another animal’s milk or drink milk at all past weaning. Maybe they haven’t accounted for the fact that other animals lack opposable thumbs, milk stools, pails, and other sundry milk procuring and processing equipment, not to mention know-how. Besides, what really separates humans from other beasts is that we figured out how to make cheese. And if you ask my dog, she’d tell you that that’s why dogs are so loyal. The cheese, and nothing else.
And so today I wandered to the overpriced, organic vegetable shop up the street and bought tofu and kale and beets and good curry powder and even vegan cheese (because I’m curious). Maybe I’ll give this reduced animal protein thing a try and see how it goes. My intestines are always a mess so I’m going to see if reducing animal protein is the way to go. We’re not big red meat eaters, in fact we might have beef a total of four times a year, but we do eat a lot of chicken and fish.
But I shan’t give up eggs. You can’t make me! You’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands. Their big argument against eggs was that they came from factory-farmed chickens who were fed corn and antibiotics, etc. But I eat organic, free-range eggs that come from happy chickens who I’m sure are fanned with fronds by hunky, shirtless farm boys and carried around on litters all day. That is what I tell myself anyway.
My biggest problem with this documentary is that it failed to mention food as anything more than nutritive. It also, despite the efforts of the narrator to make it all seem accessible and doable, served to remind me that this kind of food choice has the whiff of elitism about it. Eating this way requires, if not a lot of money, then time, research, and the luxury to give a flying feck. For people living with food insecurity, the plight of the animal they’re eating is kind of secondary to the plight of their children’s hunger.
Next week: What I ate in New York City and why a $12 Kale salad from Bubby’s was note perfect.