Author: Ed Schwalje
Like most Americans, I did not grow up eating a vegan / plant based diet. My dad was an avid hunter and fisherman, and my mom cooked standard American fare like chicken, meatloaf, chicken, pork chops, and more chicken. Although I have always operated a bit outside of what most people would call “normal” (think punk rock and high school theater) I had never considered giving up meat as a form of protest until I went to college (I suppose that is where the transitional story begins for a lot vegetarian/vegan people).
At the time my reasoning was based more on animal rights than it was on the environmental impact or personal health impact of meat consumption, which was something that was pretty far to the left of my upbringing and the rest of my family.
To my dad, the concept of abstaining from eating meat was completely absurd, and although we had a very close relationship, he never held back from taking jabs at me for it. His classic restaurant waiter/waitress line while ordering was to wait until everyone else had ordered first, and then preface his order with “I dont eat rabbit food, I eat the rabbit….and I’ll have the sirloin medium rare”.
Until recently I had always took those kinds of remarks on the chin, but now I have a different outlook on the world of plant based eating:
I dont eat rabbit food either! I eat gorilla food!
The idea that eating a plant based diet leads to weak, sickly, feeble people is completely absurd when one considers that gorillas are herbivores and are considered to be 7-8 times stronger than olympic weightlifters!
I have started to see an emergence of “paradigm-busting” vegan athletes–record setting power lifters, ultra athletes, professional football players, basketball players, UFC fighters, and Olympians. It reinforces the idea that strength is not defined by meat consumption, paleo adherence, or whey protein powder. In fact, it shows that optimal performance can be achieved through a diet of 100% plants!!
Now when I consider the idea of a vegan / plant based diet I consider all three aspects (health, animal welfare, and environment) as three sides of the same triangle. I consider the other two “benefits” when in engaged in a discussion any given side of the “why go plant based?”.
I wonder if the concept of associating plant based eating with an effeminate man was simply a way to marginalize something that scared people or was outside of societal norms? Eating meat makes me stronger?? How?? Maybe since I’m eating all of the steroids that are injected into animals to plump them up prior to slaughter….
And you sir, what will you be having??….I’ll have the gorilla food, thank you very much!