As I grow older I find myself asking many of the same questions I did as a young child.
Many of the answers I get as an adult sound similar to those I got as a child. “Because I’m the mommy/daddy/responsible adult in charge and I said so, that’s why.”
I find myself asking more and more why we Americans eat the way we do, and insist the rest of the world do the same. The answer usually has something to do with recommendations made by people with more education or status than I have.
Take meat, for example.
I was in the grocery yesterday and saw pounds and pounds of meat. It’s fresh. It’s frozen. It’s canned. Practically every restaurant in the town where I live serves some kind of meat. Most restaurants brand themselves by the meat dishes they serve. Steak house. Barbecue shack. Burger joint.
Now I’m not preaching today on why you shouldn’t eat meat. I’m simply asking why we Americans think we have to have meat at every meal, and why we look upon those who don’t eat meat as weird.
Maybe it’s because our medical professionals told us we need to eat meat for good health.
Because the government told us we need to eat meat to stay healthy.
Because the meat industry advertises and lobbies to get that message out.
Or do we eat it because mommy and daddy said we should?
We believe we need meat, and lots of it, to be healthy, when what we really need are the protein and essential amino acids found in meat, but are also found in other sources.
The average woman needs 45-50 grams of protein per day. A woman who exercises a lot or is pregnant needs more. Consuming 50 grams of protein is roughly the equivalent of eating 6 ounces of roast beef per day. Hell, we Americans think we should eat that much per meal!
Protein is found in many sources, including vegetables. Eating one ounce of chicken gives you 7 grams of protein. Eating one ounce of roasted almonds gives you 6 grams of protein.
A Big Mac has 26 grams of protein; my typical lunch of a peanut butter sandwich on Ezekiel sesame seed bread provides 16 grams. Throw in some fruits and veggies: sugar snap peas have 3 grams per cup, blackberries contain 2 grams per cup, and 3 ounces of raw carrots have 1 gram protein.
Snack time: A Snickers bar has 3 grams protein; the Larabar I typically have for a snack provides 4. Instead have a Kind Madagascar vanilla almond bar and you get 7 grams protein with the added benefit of only 4 grams of sugar.
So you see, a vegan can easily get all the protein he or she needs through careful planning.
Which leads me back to my original question: why do we think we have to have meat at every meal?
Maybe it’s because that’s what we’ve been led to believe is the way things are. Dr. Melanie Joy calls this belief system carnism. Why is it not OK to eat cats and dogs, but it’s perfectly acceptable to eat pigs, cows, and chickens? It’s a belief system.
And where did we get this idea? It’s what we were taught by our parents, our school lunchroom ladies and gents, our doctors. It was reinforced by advertising and by the media. And we never stopped and asked why.
And it was preached to us by nutrition experts. Of course, it was experts who told us fat and not sugar consumption leads to heart disease. And we recently found out they told us so because the sugar industry paid them to. These experts even had their “research” findings published in a respected journal, and it’s still cited by many doctors. Maybe your own.
So perhaps it’s time to start asking yourself why you eat some of the things you do. The answers you discover might surprise you.
29 thoughts on “Why Do I Eat That?”
I did not question my chocolate mousse i had for dessert tonight..i made it with Avocado coconut oil cacao powder maple syrup and a dash of vanilla..easy to find great alternatives 🙂
I’ve had that before and I LOVE it!!!
How good is it! Took like 3 secs to blend..the ones with dairy take way to long..so time saver too 😉
Now you’ve got me wanting some. Let me check to see if I have an avocado.
Hahaha 🙂 sorry 🙂
I haven’t eaten meat in, like, 30 years. I’m fine. I’m not a vegan: I do eat milk and eggs. But, c’mon, you don’t NEED to eat meat. Cats do; humans, not so much.
I think we each choose what diet to eat and not eat, but I also believe we need to be consciously aware of what we eat and why, and that’s not the case for some.
Even as a child we didn’t have meat at every meal or even every day. My mother made fabulous meat-less meals. Today if I eat meat, my portions are very small. I prefer a good vegetable properly made.
I remember my grandma telling me that when she and my grandpa married they had meat once a week during Sunday dinner. Not sure that was the case since they were farmers and raised chickens and such, but I know they certainly didn’t eat meat every meal. But it seems today it’s an expectation. We don’t seem to ask why that is. I think I need to ask why far more often.
My mother’s family was poor. Her father died when she was young. There were 9 kids (this is all before Welfare, CHIP or any other government programs) so her mother was creative about food. They had one chicken a week which they raised. This background gave my mother (and then me) a different slant on how you eat. We were a big potato, noodle and veggie family. We always had eggs too.
Eggs, beans, and butter churned by a kid that needed something to do…. I remember always staying busy at my great-grandma’s house so I wasn’t that kid. LOL
My mother canned. OMG! Tons of jars in the basement that carried us threw the winter. Sometimes I was lucky to get out and sometimes I was peeling.
I never got out of that. I spent my summers sitting on her porch with the other women folk prepping foods for canning or freezing. When she died, my grandma had 3 deep freezers full, an outside building full of canned foods and root veggies in the cellar.
Wow! That’s a lot of food.
She believed in feeding everybody.
The older I get the more I question the food I eat. I have turned to salmon and dairy more than meat. If I have a BBQ I will splurge on a burger – but mostly I tend to eat lighter….I grew up with the code you eat whatever is placed in front of you or starve – and mom loved opening up “cans” for dinner. Dont ask what was in them….ugh. I took after grandma with home made soups and breads….chicken soup is my favorite…and I have eaten a few veggie burgers in my time.
Hmmm…. I ate my share of Beenie Weenies, Vienna Sausages, and Spam growing up. Today my dog eats better than I did then. LOL
My mother’s mantra was eat eat eat! And a little bit of that or this won’t hurt you. But to her a little bit was not so little. I’m surprised I don’t weight 500 more pounds. Great post.
My great-grandma was OLD old school. There was fried meats and desserts, but they weren’t processed foods. But the processed stuff snuck in and my favorite meal growing up was Hardee’s Husky burger with fries and a chocolate shake.
Great insights! We’ve been conditioned to support an industry by relentless marketing as well
Milk is even worse! Is required to be served in schools and daycares and is promoted for us older women for bone density. If I drank a glass of milk I promise you it would soon require a prolonged trip to the restroom.
That’s a great question, and one we should all be asking oursleves. Those Gardein meals are really good — we also like the beefless szechuan and the crab cakes!
I like the crab cakes too!
I eat meat but I generally only eat it at dinner time and even then, not always.
Sounds like you haven’t bought into the meat at every meal propaganda!
Meat is very acid forming in the body so too much is bad but there are certain nutrients that are difficult to get from plant sources. Fortunately, you don’t need much meat to get them and eggs may provide most of them, if not all.
We are loving your blog posts on vegan food. So interesting to see what you can get in USA compared to UK. We were able to get the Nutpods creamer you mentioned in a past blog through Amazon and LOVE it! Xx
I’m glad! I do as well.
I suspect the meat and dairy lobby sold us a bill of goods a long time ago. As a long-time vegetarian, I’ve had dozens of go-rounds with people telling me I don’t get enough protein from my diet because I’m a vegetarian. Ha, if they only knew (a) just how much protein there is in various foods I eat and (b) why do people think they need so much protein to begin with. *Sigh*