I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day and plopped a package of chicken wings up onto the conveyor belt. The cashier made some sort of smalltalk -- I think she asked whether I liked wings -- which prompted me to say, "Oh, the chicken is for my dog, Julia."
She looked at me, eyebrows raised. "For your dog "
"Yep, Joogie loves her wings."
"So, what you're saying is that your dog is a person."
I could see where this was going and began to smile, asking her to explain her observation. Which she did:
"Well, chicken is people food. So, if you're feeding your dog chicken, then that means your dog ... is actually a person."
And there you are... quod erat demonstrandum. She said this with all of the seriousness of a professor stating a mathematical proof.
It's a funny story, and I of course knew that she was just joking around. In fact, for today's purposes, that's all I really wanted to say publicly. However, instead of ending the post here, I'd like to "think out loud" about the story a bit more. None of my observations will be truly scientific, so take them for whatever they're worth.
While there was certainly some kind of surface-level statement in there referencing the widely held conviction that meat is an appropriate food for humans (the part I found amusing), I feel that a deeper motive of her observation was in fact an economic frustration, a commentary on the frivolity of what she perceived as waste on my part. In other words, the perception of "spending considerably more money than is necessary on behalf of an animal" would be consistent with an ideology in which animals are nothing more than food.
Further down the rabbit hole, one might speculate that this kind of economic statement stems from yet something else -- in this case, I suspect, a kind of deep-rooted, almost resentful, desire to be in a position to live to excess (a prime example being my apparently lavishing an animal with needlessly costly food). In other words, frankly, jealousy (but, again, unconscious jealousy -- and also misplaced jealousy, as living with the means to purchase copious amounts of meat is really nothing to be jealous of).
On a very zen level, there are of course lessons for all here, one of which is to exercise caution when assessing others' motives. In reality, this woman knows very little about my economic situation or my reasons for purchasing any of the items I did.
Likewise, I must concede that everything I'm writing here is conjecture. The difference is that I'm doing this exercise intuitively and consciously -- an important detail because, by doing something consciously, a space is created in which I can maintain more of an open mind about it, open to outside influence, dialogue, and directional change at all times. This is really an example of that surface-level emotional consciousness that we speak of in raw lifestyle articles from time to time, the intentional act of processing information and emotions in real-time, on the surface, instead of "self-medicating" with processed starches and sugars, which I think is a learned avoidance behavior. But, let's take this even further:
The story is also jam-packed with irony because the furthest desire from my/our consciousness at the moment is to live wastefully. As anyone who has read this blog for a long period of time can attest, in our case, one of the strongest cravings we've experienced since going raw has nothing to do with food; rather, it's a desire to live more simply, closer to nature. The only things we want in excess right now are life, love, happiness, laughter, and excitement!
In trying to really get down to the root of the clerk's joke, I can't help but see a connection between the type of mentality described and one's diet. It seems that a toxic diet manifests (not always, but sometimes) as the desire for wealth in order to be able to live as wastefully and ego-centrically as possible, whereas an optimally healthy diet manifests as a desire for health in order to be able to live as tastefully and universally aware as possible.
Another thing I wanted to discuss was my remark, "Yep, Joogie loves her wings." To me, this is one of the most powerful demonstrations I can imagine regarding our diet. As a dog -- an omnivore, yet definitely a member of the Carnivora order -- Joogie may in fact be pre-programmed to absolutely drool over raw chicken wings, but do you ? In its natural raw state, do you crave flesh? Do you look on it as food? If you were hungry and saw a pile of raw hamburger near a plate of raw strawberries, which one would you naturally eat?
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On November 25, 2009, wrote:
l would go for the strawberries, but my dogs...l don't think so! ;-)
l have 5 dogs, all rescues. l mix the pulp from my morning juice in their food, they love it (and all fruits and veggies... l have to keep them out of my compst pile!). l would like to start feeding them more raw food, too, is that what you do with the chicken wings? How much do you give Julia
Dogs are definitely sentient beings! ;-) 2 of mine are therapy dogs. We go to a children's home and nursing homes, they love it and so do the people they visit.
On November 25, 2009, wrote:
We belong to a meat co-op for my 3 dogs and we feed our cats chicken from the grocery store.(all with supplements and for the dogs some grains and fruits and veggies) I am a professional dog trainer and also was a vet assistant years ago...I learned about pet nutrition and that the healthier you keep them with what you feed them the less you will have to pay for vet visits! So it's kind of a trade off. I would rather see my pets live a healthy life. If anyone chooses to feed a dog/cat raw food do lots of research. Read up and choose the healthiest diet for your pet! I would pick the strawberries! The Holistic Guide to a Healthy Dog by Wendy Volhard is a great book. Happy Thanksgiving!
On November 25, 2009, wrote:
Yesterday I was in the grocery store looking for ground turkey to make turkey chili for my family. No such luck...but I did find 2 pkgs of beef liver and 2 pkgs of beef kidney for my 6 yr old dog who has been raw fed since 4 months of age :-) Figures. The dog got what she needed and I left empty handed for the 2 legged people in the house (excluding me ofcourse:-) Personally I'd pick the strawberries but the Inuit in our Northern territories eat raw seal liver and raw seal meat etc. They have adapted to their environment over generations. I am sure they would choose the raw chicken wings :-) Tribal peoples are surrounded by greens and fruits and do not eat just the latter. They also include meat such as grubs and monkey meat. I am at a place right now where I am not sure about a totally raw vegan diet long term, tho I do believe it can be healthy to have it as a high percentage of my diet. I have concerns about deficiencies over time if I was to be 100% raw. I also have concerns about my teeth now which have recently become overly sensitive. This has happened, I believe, due to the high increase of fruit in my diet coupled with past brushing damage. I have ordered some Tooth Soap but from a dietary perspective I am greatly concerned and really not feeling as confident as I did several months ago. I wish eating for me was as easy as it is for my dog. I just throw her a whole chicken one day and some beef for her next meal, maybe a whole salmon head the next time with some organ meat thrown in for good measure and she's happy and healthy. Me...well, it is just not that easy it seems.
On November 26, 2009, wrote:
An optimally healthy diet manifests as a desire for health in order to be able to live as tastefully and universally aware as possible.
If I was asked what changes would happen in my life at the time I made the decision to go raw, I would probably have said health, but would probably have underestimated the radical changes that have actually taken place.
I would not have thought that going raw would pull me so much closer to nature, that having balance in my life would become so important, that I would become so anti pollutants in my house, that the focal feature of my now 100% organic garden would be two large circular vegetable beds or that my values would change so profoundly.
On November 26, 2009, wrote:
Jim, I love reading your comments. They always give me something to think about. I know someone who got mad when her dog found some raw meat to eat. She was trying to make the dog a raw vegan, like herself. Who knows, maybe her dog is eating meat now, or maybe even she is! We are all on a journey, so it is important not to be judgmental. That is one thing that I have learned since being on this raw vegan lifestyle (five years in January!). I now appreciate where people are in their journey and try not to not judge. I find I am a lot more peaceful in my life, and I try to share my lifestyle with others, when the occasion feels right. Thanks for taking of your precious time to give to others. We appreciate your wisdom. I pray for Wendi, and hope she will fully recover. I sent someone, who has Lyme's disease, to your site. I am looking forward to talking to her soon. I am sure Wendi has been able to help many people because of what she is going through. Thank you, Wendi, for all you do to help others. I am sending a bundle of good thoughts your way. Janielle
On December 1, 2009, wrote:
Can you imagine what would've happened if you had explained that your whole house eats raw food ? Lol! That would *really* would've confused her big time! It really is amazing and kind of sad how many people get stuck on the "dog food" is for dogs and "people food" is for people" thing. Today, I made a huge huge batch of kale chips. We have two german shepherd Seeing Eye dogs.. My husband's dog, Flint, absolutely *loves* veggies in any form. I dropped some kale chips while putting them away after getting them out of the dehydrater and Flint was all over them! We always joke around here that when Flint goes on one of his world famous hunger strikes, we'll just mix some veggies into his kibble so he'll eat. We are finally in an economic position to switch the dogs over to a dehydrated rawkibble now(no frezzer space for raw)., but the mind does work in strange and weird ways!
On December 17, 2009, wrote:
very touchy...we should definitely keep in mind those thing!