Whoa, Pure Jeevan's Back?!

2016 update: Aha, you noticed?! Welcome. Yes, we wanted to bring the site back online again, mainly because it's so packed with articles and information. It will be a work in progress for some time, as we changed web platforms and all sorts of tech stuff. So, a lot of links are hard-coded to old Wordpress-style links... just awful. But, in time we'll get all of it back in shape. For now, enjoy clicking around and reading!

Jim here... Recently, a commenter on this blog, Lannette, mentioned being a cardiac rehab nurse. For some reason, reading this set my wheels spinning in various directions, among them onto the topic of meat consumption in the world. To begin, I'd like to recap something I'd said in response to her:

... it *astounds* me how people joke about heart health where I work. People around here routinely return from medical exams and actually adopt rather mischievous grins when they reveal how high their bad cholesterol levels are. It's like they're saying, "I know meat and dairy are bad for me, but I'm going to keep on eating it anyway. Isn't that funny ??!!!" Ummm, no. It's sad. They laugh it off as though there could be no possible future reckoning for them. It's reminiscent, IMHO, of Dr. Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning," in which he describes a psychological phenomenon he termed the "delusion of reprieve." For anyone unfamiliar w/ that, the term describes the phenomenon via which those faced with certain death (or near certain death) mentally construct some way out of it. They are deluded into believing that they'll have a reprieve from the inevitable. So, it's exactly the same to me -- these people see the heart attacks coming. They simply refuse to do anything about it, refuse to change their habits, deny what their blood work says to them. Why? Because they think "I'll be okay. Sure, this leads to heart disease in most people, but not in *me* because I'm a strong guy, I'm macho, I'm not as fat as some other person here, etc." Mostly, it's the meat, I think. It's got a powerful hold on our society...

So, today I wanted to write a little bit on the topic of meat consumption. This is an enormous issue, in my opinion. If you're reading this, it likely means you're already at least a vegetarian, so I do not need to quote you any saddening statistics on the horrors of the meat industry. In fact, before writing this, I decided to visit the PETA web site quickly in order to glean a few slaughterhouse facts. But, in no time, I became markedly depressed, so I'll largely avoid focusing on specific negative imagery here.

Meat consumption is particularly interesting to me because there are two major arguments against the practice: one scientific, one ethical. You can abstain from ingesting animal flesh because, for example, you understand the conclusions within The China Study (a famous study that clearly links meat and dairy consumption with chronic disease), or because you simply do not believe that humans should take the lives of animals (or for both of these reasons).

The only real argument supporting meat consumption, in my opinion, is simply that it's pleasurable; it tastes good (to, it's fair to say, a majority of people). Oh, sure, many tout the whole protein angle -- which is scientifically incorrect -- but, at the end of the day, I think they eat it because it's an agreeable sensation. I mean, people also "know" that tofu is packed with protein, yet the tofu industry pales in comparison to the beef industry, right? People rarely gather round barbecue pits salivating over tofu, dreaming of that first tender bite.

What's the recipe for this predicament? Well, you take something almost universally regarded as delicious (the cooked end product), couple it with "the system" -- the billions of promotional dollars and an extremely long and deep history of advertising, lobbying, government subsidies, etc. -- then swirl in the cultural addiction we have to it (which is reinforced by parents worldwide who have been previously programmed via the aforementioned system starting with family traditions, holiday traditions, social traditions, school lunch programs in our youth, fast food restaurants in our teens, the FDA's flawed food nutrition pyramid in their adulthood, etc.) coupled with the bizarre psychological disconnect that exists between the food on your plate and the previously living animal itself, and you wind up with an enormous super-size disaster that leads to widespread cardio-vascular disease, agricultural pollution nightmares, rampant deforestation, and, sadly, the puzzlingly least-cited aspect of them all -- the suffering experienced by millions of animals worldwide on a daily basis. All for our pleasure.

I should note that, within the general category of "raw foodists," there are numerous subsets. Among these are those that consume raw meats and/or unpasteurized dairy products. Here at Pure Jeevan, just for the record, we're all pretty much on the same page in terms of our beliefs on this issue -- which is to say that we espouse a raw vegan lifestyle in particular and, furthermore, that our reasons for such include both the scientific as well as the ethical reasons mentioned.

Well, that's how I feel now, anyway. I wasn't always like this, though. Here are the stages I went through:

1. Meat eater, by default. This lasted 19 years without any introspection whatsoever. You could fairly categorize me as following the Standard American Diet during this span -- the fast food cheeseburger being my near daily specialty.

2. Meat eater, but by choice. This is distinct from the prior category because, having met Wendi (the first vegetarian I'd ever met), I realized that not every person on the planet consumed meat. This lasted about another 19 years, though the amount of meat decreased steadily over time and, over the last several years of this span, tapered off to almost nothing.

3. Predominantly vegetarian. This overlaps with the prior category a good bit (many years). I included it mostly to show a transition period. Meat eating was usually relegated to work-related dinners and things like that at which steak or chicken would be served. I did still like the taste, and occasionally binged on various things like chicken wings. Looking back, I liked those things mostly for the texture and/or the sauces with which they were served. But, again, I would often go for months at a time as strictly vegetarian during these years.

4. Largely vegan. Again, this overlaps quite a bit with the prior stage.

5. Predominantly raw vegan. After Wendi switched to raw, I very slowly followed her down this road. Well, I very slowly followed her after a period of a few months or so during which I thought she was crazy. So, let's pause a bit before the final stage...

Do you remember Evel Knievel? Sometimes I view raw foodies as Evel reincarnates. This is especially true if you've made all of the "jumps" described above. Maybe you've "crashed" a few times along the way. Maybe you tried, for example, to go from being a vegetarian to a vegan, but found yourself sitting in a pizza parlor one day. Hey, that's okay. Evel crashed many, many times during his career. I'm fairly certain the man broke nearly every bone in his body at one point or another.

But, if the jump between vegetarian and vegan is equivalent to Evel jumping a bunch of Greyhound buses, then the jump between cooked and raw is like Evel's infamous Snake River Canyon jump; it's a major chasm. This reminds me of that old saying about making bold moves. It goes something like, "Don't be afraid to make big changes; you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."

Even Evel Knievel didn't make it across. If you recall the infamous attempt, his parachute opened early, and he fell short of his goal. He lived, of course. But, he never made it across that chasm.

Chasm jumps are tough! This is why we have web sites like Pure Jeevan's blog. This is why we have the All Raw Directory. This is why online raw communities are so important. Of course, no one can make that jump for you. But, they can support you, inspire you, and serve as a resource for information. And in time, you hit that final major stage:

6. Raw vegan. Where I'm at now.

I would say there are sub-stages, as well, such as when you learn about various nuances or sub-types within the raw world. You might, for example, be drawn to a particular type of raw diet (e.g., 80-10-10, Rainbow Green, etc.). Recalling this, I'm reminded of David Rainoshek's ideas on the "Spectrum of Diet" as he described in Kevin Gianni's Rawkathon last year. I remember thinking, "Wow, I went through pretty much all of those stages he described!"

Okay, back to the topic du jour: meat. As I was implying above, meat was, for me, an enormous chasm. When I met Wendi 20+ years ago, I'd never encountered anyone who didn't like meat. I do recall one time, in my youth, actively thinking about what meat was, though only momentarily. I'd been at the dinner table with some farmers once when they began talking about the specific cow we were eating. The experience always struck me as uncomfortable, though I never really plumbed the depths of it for more than a few minutes.

I compartmentalized it, I suppose. I mean, I was never a hunter, as some of my friends were. So, I think a certain aversion to killing was always present in me. Yet, I remained able to not think about the slaughterhouse while eating meat for so long. On some shallow level, I'm sure I would have admitted that I wasn't crazy about the idea of animals being killed for me. But, what can I say, for whatever reason, I never felt it to my core.

And then I went raw. Tough to explain that... I simply went 100% raw on September 18, 2008. I leaped across that chasm, and some other personal chasms of my life, on pure faith. And, soon after that, all sorts of strange things began to happen to me. Most notably, I began to be able to experience feelings that, looking back, maybe cooked foods had held deep within me my entire life. After all, I'd been with Wendi, a lifelong vegetarian, for 20 years by then. It would be painfully ridiculous to suggest that, during those two decades, she had never expressed to me her feelings on meat eating, including her numerous objections to the practice. Of course she did.

But, again, something had changed inside me. And, as it concerns meat, I began to experience various tangible/scientific and ethereal/philosophical considerations as though for the first time ever. I'd set out to be raw, without having developed any particular conscious aversion or stance against ingesting flesh. But, unconsciously, it had emerged. It took only exposure to the right words to seal it into my psyche. I recall the date, as well.

It was just past one month into my raw existence -- October 19, 2008. I was viewing Dr. Gabriel Cousens on Kevin's Rawkathon program. He spoke of the last moments of a cow's life, how fear overcomes the animal in its final moments, causing its brain to produce chemicals that saturate its flesh like a desperate adrenaline rush. Whether I'd heard and/or considered that before, I couldn't say. But, it sunk it. I had no cooked insulators in my body any longer to hide the truth any longer. I remember thinking, "Oh my god. When we eat flesh, we're literally eating fear."

You could say I'm thinking in metaphor, above, or that I'm anthropomorphizing. But, I meant all of that quite literally. For some time after that, I thought of how today's society (esp. post-9-11) uses fear to its advantage, how fear is a marketing device. I wondered if there could be a link to meat -- hundreds of millions of people worldwide literally consuming fear each day. I felt a real sense of compassion, wisdom, and understanding settle upon me that day. I don't think I've yet attempted to distill it into language, but that's at least the beginning of it.

Anyway, so that's one guy's story (told as briefly as I could) of a 38-year transition from meat eater to ethical vegan. What are your stories of this particular transition

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On March 31, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Some of us *never* liked meat--not the smell, taste, texture, or the fact that it was dead animal flesh. I refused to eat meat since I was a baby, but my mother forced me to eat it at times (concerned for my health). So, when people say they like the taste of it, I just can't understand that--to me it never tasted good.

It feels strange to see a post about meat on our blog, but I know many of you came from a meat-eating background and sometimes it can be very helpful to hear how others have transitioned to a raw, vegan diet. I know some of you still struggle with desiring meat, so I hope Jim's post is helpful to you.

I want to make one thing very clear. If you follow along with Jim's math you may think that I'm *gasp* as old as he is (he's 40 years old). I just want to clear things up a bit. When he met me I must have only been about four years old, because I'm currently only 24! *giggles* :-P

Lots of love to all of you and LONG LIVE THE ANIMALS!!!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On March 31, 2009, Smita wrote:

Wow, I feel like this post is directed towards me! I actually stopped eating meat 6 months. I started again after 6 months about two days. Why did I stop for many reasons including the reasons you wrote above. I am also an athlete and have made no progress in gaining any strength in the past 6 months so I started eating meat again this week simply to test any gains. I was told at a nutrition certification i went to of Robb Wolf's that I will make no gains or very little with a vegetarian diet. I am very competitive athlete and have resorted to eating meat again. BUt every time I eat it I feel regretful. Not sure what to do at this point.

On April 1, 2009, Kathy wrote:

I have just recently run into your blog, and I must say that I am LOVING it!!! Sometimes we all struggle and it is so important to stay in the "loop" and continue reading inspiration and other peoples journeys like this. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kathy

On April 1, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Your history sure is *particularly* interesting, considering the meat-centric nature of your family.

On April 1, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Well, Smita, you came to the right place for vegetarian athlete inspiration! We ran a series on that very topic just a month or two ago. See:

http://purejeevan.com/blog/cat=436

This is a great guest-blogger series written by Joanna Steven. It features some of the world's top vegetarian (many of them raw) athletes! I would also point you to Dr. Doug Graham's site www.foodnsport.com for an additional take on raw athletes. Richard Blackman is another fiercely strong shining example (though his site seems to be down right now). So, in my opinion, you were given incorrect information about not being able to gain strength via a vegetarian diet. There are tons of world-class performers out there who do not eat meat.

On April 1, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Welcome, Kathy! A lot of people, myself included, share your love of reading other people's journeys. It's great inspiration, and is the kind of positive coverage we're interested in providing here at Pure Jeevan. With this in mind, we recently launched a "My Raw Story" series here, which is an ongoing series of profiles of individual raw foodies. You can view them all here: http://purejeevan.com/blog/cat=407 We'll be running another one later today, in fact! Thanks! -Jim

On April 1, 2009, sandra wrote:

Oh, this gives me hope that my husband might someday be vegetarian too! I don't want to push him -- I want him to come to it himself, and he may never do that and it's his choice. But it sure would be nice!

On April 1, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

You might be surprised, Sandra, especially with raw foods. I believe that continued exposure to raw foods brings vibrancy to one's life. So, even if he's a bigtime meat eater right now, offer him some raw sweets, suggest that you eat more salads together as meals, keep abundant fresh fruits around, etc. All of these things make you feel better -- and that leads to people wanting to continue feeling better -- and that leads to better nutritional decisionmaking -- and that leads ot lifestyle changes.

On April 1, 2009, Smita wrote:

Thank you for responding back to my comment, I will check those websites out!!

On April 2, 2009, Yardsnacker wrote:

Thanks Jim. I skipped vegetarian, vegan and went straight raw. I didn't really care about the pros and cons of meat eating even as a raw foodist, I was just on this health path and that was it. As my mind became healed by the influx of vitamins, minerals, living foods, inevitably my consciousness was opened up and wave after wave of sadness and guilt hit me...for what I had done to my fur cousins. I had to make peace with them and they became my teachers, pure Heavenly service and forgiveness.

Meat is in my opinion, a survival food at best, as a daily food, a symptom of decadence and food carnality.

On April 2, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

"inevitably my consciousness was opened up"

Yep, that sums it up perfectly, Sam! It really didn't kick in for me until I really committed to raw 100%, though. Even at 80-90% for a whole year (after another year of 75% or so), it just didn't sink in with me. I think I was pretty far gone, though. That could be why... In any case, it's nice to be *here*! I can feel my own consciousness continuing to open these days, and it's a beautiful sensation.

-Jim

On April 4, 2009, Pixywinks wrote:

Great post Jim!
Meat was pretty easy for me to give up. I liked it, but never felt like I had to have it. If there was a vegetarian option at a restaurant, I would almost always opt for that. I grew up on a farm and I did feel bad when my dad would kill one of our animals. They always explained it away as "that was how life worked". Eventually, I just hardened myself to that fact.
I'm glad I know better now, and I've got my natural feelings about it back.

On April 4, 2009, Lannette wrote:

Well I'm late to the party but I figured since Jim mentioned my name I'll share.

As a child and even a young adult I never cared for meat. Cheese? now that was another story but I now realize that cravings for cheese represent cravings for fat and salt more than cheese. But again, that's another story.

I became a vegetarian when I was in my mid 20s and my family was sure I was going to die within a year. I started eating small amounts of chicken and fish when my children were born and I was severely anemic. Almost needing a transfusion anemic.

I went through a "Zone" diet phase and bought into the myth that if you want to workout hard and run marathons (I did) you must eat animal protein.

After a few years of that I realized that for all the balancing of protein, carbs and fats I wasn't particularly all that healthy. When I started listening to my body the animal protein (other than milk and eggs fell away.)

Found about about raw eating and decided to give it a try and was raw for a year and a half but migrated to too many heavy foods and ended up feeling like I was truly missing something - not sure what. Stayed Vegan but moved into the Eat to Live program, which is still vegan but features some steamed vegetables and soups.

Now I'm back to raw. Funny thing is that without the cooked food the urge for milk products, especially cheese isn't there. I sometimes crave eggs, well not crave them but think about eating them.

This time around I'm trying to keep eating simple and so far it's working. Will it work long term? I'm not sure but I can honestly say that I don't miss meat a bit.

On April 13, 2009, greatgrandma1948 wrote:

Well said about the meat thing! I am 60 and a new Raw Foodist! I can't say enough about how eating fresh and raw has made such a difference in the "lightness" I feel, compared to the "stuffed" feeling when I ate cooked meals.
Something else I've noticed is that I feel a "cooling effect" eating fresh, compared to the way I usually felt "overheated" eating cooked foods, and, especially meat. I never experience that eating fresh (ANY COMMENTS ON THAT )
I have "revisited"cooked food and meat from time to time, which simply reinforce my resolve and preference of raw over cooked lifestyle. I eat no meat, dairy, or bread.
(I eat lots of sprouts, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds).
I am still learning, and, I am proud to say that I have lost 15 lbs since I started this lifestyle - about 1 1/2 months ago.

On April 24, 2009, sheryl miller wrote:

Thanks Jim for that post about meat!
I have been a vegetarian since January this year, and in the process of giving up cheese, gave up milk ages ago!
Maybe like Lanette I crave the fat and the salt that cheese represents and the cooked food helps it!
I have so many friends that are meat eaters, one was quite astounded as to "why" I am vegetarian!
My children still eat meat, to me it is their choice( one is 6ys and the is 10yrs).
I am just going to be a role model for now and keep preparing my meals and be an influence that way!
One night a week we have a vegetarian meal and the kids are happy with that.
My husband has both but is beginning to see and feel the benefits of less meat in your diet!

I suppose now I think about it this is all I can be to my friends is be the role model!
Walk the talk!

Like in a nother post on Pure Jeevan "You can lead a horse to water"

Anyway thanks for great website and all the effort you put into this!
Sheryl Miller
Canbera
Australia