Words I Live By – Foodwise

Collected by Jon Bjornstad.
Send comments to jon@logicalpoetry.com

These many words echo in my head in a kind of musical refrain. They are like a personal written constitution that guide my choices. Why so many words? Choosing a healthful veg*an diet in current day America does lead to a certain alienation from the dominant culture even in veg*n friendly California. For me, this alienation tends to foster a constant self-justification. Many people have written entire books that are, in essence, a very long self-justification for the choice they have made to not subscribe to the status quo foodwise. These are the words that I live by; everyone has their own. A subtitle for this could be "Reflections on Being At Odds with the Status Quo for 37 years".

First is a collection of short, pithy quotes and sayings in no particular order. Then come longer stories and essays and excerpts from novels and lectures.

Enjoy. I hope you find them tasty.

Reading this will take about half an hour. This is not the typical web page where you can click here and click there, skim this, gaze quickly at the pictures, and then click again. This is more like a novel that requires and (hopefully) merits your sustained attention. There are some pictures here and even an audio file for your multimedia pleasure.


Why so many words? It is not surprising, actually, considering how central food is in our lives. Socially, several times every day (unless we are fasting - but that's another story), medical implications, political, environmental impact (if one takes the time to actually look), fuel for all of our activity, psychologicall - from birth.

Bizarro cartoons.

What sections? Famous people quotes. Jon quotes. - or arrange quotes by topic, Animal Rights, Environmental, Health - although arranging it by topic enables one to focus only on what one is comfortable with - better, I think, to mix it up. Anecdotes, Book excerpts.

Publish as a blurb book? With an introductory quote from Thoreau about the personal (if completely honest) being the universal - the holographic view of the universe.

In any discussion of health benefits I hasten to add that there is no guarantee. No matter how we live there is no guarantee that we will be protected from the vississitudes of the world. One saying that I heard from a chiropractor: "Stay close to Mother Nature and she will protect you with her eternal laws."

There are many rituals in our lives - many that deal with food. One friend had an elaborate ritual around eating an orange. He would peel the orange by first biting it and then peeling it in such a careful way that the peel came off in one piece. Then he would separate each section and eat them one at a time. Then he would eat the peel! (which is likely not physiological because of the bitter natural pesticides in the peel - but we do enjoy orange and lemon zest don't we?). Archie Bunker had fixed ideas about how one should eat. In one "All In The Family" episode he gave Michael a lecture. Hilarious! ??? reference it on youtube???

Cancer is the final stage of a long decline in health status (quote from Airola's pamphlet?). Its detection is not the start. Determining cause is often impossible in individual cases but epidemiologists can study entire populations.

At one Thanksgiving meal I was asked by a person who did not know me well: "So you can't have any of the turkey?" I said that I can eat whatever I want to. I choose not to have the turkey. There is no desire. There is no sacrifice. When I went to family meals I would tell my Mom, "I will thoroughly enjoy everything - except the turkey". In the end she was, in a way, proud of me that I had taken a different path in life.

A common question: "What meat do you miss the most?". There is no desire. It dropped years ago - about a month after my first experiment in being vegetarian. The change came easily for me. When getting hungry I no longer imagined eating a steak - instead a baked potato came to mind. It is not always so easy for others. Once the "meat hunger" goes away meat, fish and fowl are viewed as "inedibles" - why in heaven's name would I put that in my mouth? In the same way I simply do not even consider putting a napkin or a credit card in my mouth.

"Meat-eating is cannibalism with its heroic dish omitted."
– George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

A pointed response to a meat-eater: "All I ask is that you don't take a bite out of my arm."

One restaurant has a menu with two facing pages - the headings read: Plant Eaters and Meat Eaters. I imagined a restaurant where there were two different sections - one for the vegetarians and one for meat eaters. There was a time when the maitre'd would ask smoking or non-smoking. Such bifurcations are sad, somehow. I remember a cartoon where a driver came to a fork in the road and two large signs said "Smoking" and "Non-Smoking". Airports have Departures and Arrivals. Some restaurants have a special menu just for vegetarians. Others will mark vegetarian options with a little 'v'. Indian restaurants that serve meat will label the sections "Vegetarian Curries" and "Non-Veg Curries". I like this - it is saying that vegetarian is the normal and non-veg is the abnormal. Whenever the word 'vegetarian' (or 'vegan') appears on a menu it makes me feel welcome. I went to a cafe in Ennis, Montana and didn't expect to find much to eat - that I would need to make some compromise - eggs or cheese. Sadly, there was actually nothing for me to eat! I had to go elsewhere.

Once you start with do nots and don'ts, it seems like everything goes wrong then. That's a hard way to go about life. - Matt Cain, pitcher for the SF Giants related to Ade: One cannot secure contentment by the mere avoidance of anything.

??? put this near the cajun turkey episode???
Point Of View

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
'Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

Shel Silverstein

Julia's poached chicken. With that kind of lavish attention one could take an old shoe and make it delicious! Describe the recipe in some detail.

Everyone is alienated in some way. Non-vegetarians can, at least, have SOMEthing to eat in most restaurants. Alienation by race, marital status, ethnicity, religion (or lack of it), etc. etc.

Yes, it's nice to know that various famous and smart people are/were vegetarian. But there are many wonderful, accomplished, inspiring people who were not. Like Beethoven - who produced works of the most sublime supreme beauty.

Scott Nearing - I don't know if Jesus Christ ate meat or not. That was a long time ago in a different age. In this age and time I choose to not eat meat for a multitude of reasons.

Abortion is a (hopefully) once in a lifetime decision. Eatint meat is a 3 times a day act. If one is to be truly pro-life one has to be a vegan. That it is actually a healthier choice for our human body is a sweet happenstance. (Include the picture of Go Veg protester that Audhild and I saw on first coming out of the BART - Practice non-violence every day.).

In my lexicon the word 'potluck' is about sharing. Tell the story of Eric and the other (Sharon?) who wouldn't eat my offering (or any other) at the vegan potluck. I had a childish outburst that I regretted later when I said, exasperatedly, "I grew the green beans myself!".

One time I babysat two kids - aged 4 and 5. The family was vegetarian and I was to make dinner for the children. I asked them what should we have for dinner? They looked a bit confused and then, in unison, said "Macaroni and Cheese!" - this was as if to say, "What else would anyone ever want?". So we had macaroni and cheese that day. Another day the parents said that that night we were to have veggie burgers. So I prepared them and the buns and the fixings. The boy put lots of ketchup on the burger before putting the bun on top - and of course it squirted out all over the plate. The girl did the same - to great hilarity. The burger with top and bottom bun and fixings was rather tall and was difficult to fit in one's mouth. I demonstrated how to press down on the top bun and make it shorter and easier to eat. Of course, they both really got into the act of pressing down. They aimed to make the burger as thin as possible and they did a very good job of that. In the end, as expected, the burgers ended up being half-eaten. This was okay. When the parents returned I let them know that I had taught their kids an important lesson: "If you can't eat your food the next best thing is to play with it."

Charlie - Reeses is food not candy. In 1976 when I first became truly aware that some common foods were not health-promoting I had a mentor at my work who I great honored. He was a chain smoker and quite addicted to candy - he preferred hard candy the red and green kind you find at Christmas. I told him briefly about my new diet and how I avoid refined sugar. I confessed that I did miss Reeses Peanut Butter Cups - that wonderful marriage of chocolate and peanut butter. He said that he regarded those as food not candy.

My grandmother liked vanilla ice cream. She would scoop it out and then would stir it up to the point where it was like soup. My mother found that quite odd.

My aunt's father-in-law liked his coffee served quite hot. He would cool it down to drinking temperature by pouring it into the saucer from which he would drink it.

The utensils that are used to eat vary widely in different cultures. (show the picture that Aruna shared). Oriental cultures (Japan, China, Korea) use chopsticks. There are variations of the type of chopstick used - some thinner some longer. Thai people sometimes use a fork and spoon - but only use the fork to get the food onto the spoon. In many subcultures in India they eat entirely with their right hand. Some even have sambar (vegetable soup) running down their forearms. They don't seem to mind. Europeans keep the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right to cut. Americans do the cutting with the knife in the right hand but then put the knife down, transfer the fork to the right hand and then eat the food they have cut. Europeans find this odd. There are social class implications in how a fork is used. 1 - With the pinky finger raised. 2 - "normally" - with the hand underneath. 3 - Using the fork like a scoop in the fist - to shovel food in the mouth.

I once had dinner with two friends at an expensive, fancy, gourmet vegan restaurant. Truly the meals were designed, prepared, and presented with great art. My two friends were intent on sharing - which is normally a worthy thing. We all ordered something different and when the plates were delivered they immediately set out to trisect everything and move two of the thirds onto the other plates. I resisted. I wanted to first appreciate the beauty of the presentation and the carefully chosen mix of flavors and textures. One of my friends even put food on my plate without asking! All of this annoyed me. One might as well just stir it all up in one big messy goulash and quickly shovel it in the mouth!

A few months after I made the switch to a vegetarian diet a friend asked me if I was still doing the vegetarian thing. I noted that the word 'diet' has a temporal quality to it - you go on a diet and then at some point you go off of it. In this sense the vegetarian diet is really a lifestyle not a diet. I'd like to see some statistics on how many people have adopted the vegetarian way and then change their mind. For me it is rather unthinkable and would be quite the revolution.

My desire for a pure, simple, elegant diet was becoming clear my freshman year in college - long before the vegetarian years began. Friday night in the dorm cafeteria was always Steak and Sundae night. (How does the word sundae relate to Sunday?) Several flavors of ice cream and toppings were set out and we each put our own together. I always chose 2 scoops of vanilla with chocolate sauce. This was quite enough for me. Many of my fellow students enjoyed a very elaborate and complex affair. 3 different flavors of ice cream with nuts on top and a banana and butterscotch sauce on one end and marshmallow in the middle and chocolate at the other end. Yeah. Yummm. (Did you ever notice that the only word you can pronounce with your mouth closed is Mmmmm? In the American culture this indicates the food is yummy, good, and tasty.)

Slow eating is often touted as a good thing. I may have taken this to a pathological extreme. If there is an interesting conversation at the table I find that I can't eat. Somehow I can't listen and eat at the same time. When I was young my mother would often say, "Jon, for Pete's sake pick up your fork and start eating." I became a connoisseur of cold mashed potatoes. As we age we generally become more and more like ourselves. Will I eat slower and slower? What is this about? Is this one way to assert control in a world that I find chaotic?

Jayanti's mother Peg - Alzheimer's - she was not there but she could chew. Chew. Chew. Archetypal - along with suck. Chewing becomes important to one who is fasting - because there's nothing to chew!

Hiker lady - disappointed that I was not a vegetarian because of animal rights and welfare and love.

Alfredo - those who are vegan for health reasons are very selfish. I do it for the animals - I rescued two cats with leukemia.

Cheryl - she rescued 100 chickens and built an entire coop and system for them.

An argument for adhering to the status quo, for staying on the path, for strict orthodoxy: If you eat a typical, standard American diet you will develop typical, standard American diseases - for which there are typical, standard American remedies. If you take the road less traveled, if you march to the beat of a different drummer, you will likely develop ailments that are atypical, NON-standard and for which no cures have been found!

I read that carob was a healthier alternative to chocolate (which has a small amount of caffeine). (It IS a good alternative but it is not the same - A favorite saying is: "If it's different it's not the same" - the same would apply to gluten free bread or soy sausage). I got in the habit of going to the natural food store and getting a bag of carob almonds. They were so tasty and satisfying that I couldn't resist and would munch on them as I drove home. I would often finish the entire bag before I got home! The mass of carob almonds took a while to digest and they sat in my stomach and made me uncomfortable. At one point I acknowledged that this was not good and that I had to make a change. Rather than try to go "cold turkey" (What is the origin of that phrase? Is there a vegetarian alternative?) I chose a different path. The next time I went to the store I chose carob almonds from the bulk bin and got exactly 14. I decided that for the subsequent week I would have only two carob almonds each day. The first day I enjoyed them after dinner. The second day I looked forward to them all day. The third day I almost forgot to have them and ended up eating them before bedtime to keep my promise to myself. By the fourth day I was becoming quite aware of the carob almonds and realized that the almonds were actually toasted and not raw. I did finish out the week but the next time I went to the store I was not compelled to buy the carob almonds at all. This success story has served as a model for conquering other habits that I didn't want to continue.

Vegetarian alternatives for common sayings.

Feeling lousy. Wandered aisle looking. BBQ chips, chocolate covered peanuts for dinner. Woke cured. Miracle cure! Different for everyone.

My food choices are just habit at this point not constant conscious choice. Habit is not "tapas" (a virtuous austerity). If someone asks why I am a veg*n I could honestly say that it is just my habit - that there is no high-minded ethical, ecological, or physiological reason.

What reasons DO people have for not being vegetarian when there are SO many reasons for it? Convenience, habit, tradition, taste (per Gary Yurosky). I would add that many simply do not want to an alien in their own culture. There is a strong need to "fit in", to be "normal", to not have an "impedance mismatch" or be "out of synch" with the world around you. When one makes the leap to not conform to the status quo you "lose your daddy" - no longer is the world a sane and safe and beneficient place. Some would just say "I like it" - how can you argue with that? On asking a very carnivorous friend (who thinks he needs lots of meat to control his tendency to diabetes) if he'd like to see the film 'Earthlings' - he said, "Why would I want to see that? It would only upset me. Isn't ignorance bliss?" How can you argue with that?

One family Thanksgiving the turkey was being cooked on the barbeque. It caught fire - twice. It was charred. There were jokes about this being a "cajun" thanksgiving. Ha ha ha. I sat quietly. I was quite tempted to quote George Bernard Shaw - "A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat scorched corpses." and leave the table to take a walk.

To be fully present in your environment one somehow has to eat SOMEthing from it. When attending a gathering/celebration of some sort and there is nearly nothing at all for you to eat it is good to find SOMEthing to put in your mouth. Otherwise you feel disconnected from everyone (or, rather, even more disconnected).

A company Christmas celebration was held at the Chinese restaurant where there were a sequence of courses. First the beef, then the chicken, then the duck, then the shrimp. I sat eating rice with soy sauce the whole time. Eventually there were some mixed vegetables. Everyone was uncomfortable that I was not joining in. In retrospect I should have piped up and said, "Hey... I'm special.". The manager who arranged the dinner likely knew of the sequence and should have taken care of me - but in truth it is my responsibility.

Hari Dass on breatharianism and the food sheath. "I've never seen it. We can eat less". He is one that knows - he lived for 2-3 years on one glass of goat's milk each day as a yogic austerity to reduce desire.

Weigh gain/loss in relation to alcoholism. We can't not eat. Alcoholics CAN stop. Eaters can't stop. It's like a recovering alcoholic HAVING to take 1 ounce of vodka every day and no more.

Mutton in Iceland - and Mom's reply. I yielded to a higher principle - that of kindness. I also learned to be sure to inform any new hosts of my food needs.

Why not be a vegetarian? Many think it is not possible - that they need meat to be well. Once I realized that it was not necessary, all the other reasons made sense - before, the words fell on deaf ears - as they do (apparently) for other non-vegetarians. If one thinks (even on a sub-conscious level) that meat/fish/fowl is required for one's medical/physical well-being it is hard to argue against it.

Turkey en espan~ol. Pork/pig, beef/cow - give the historical context - Normans, Saxons - look it up so it is accurate.

Sourdough rye bread fiasco.

Watching a friend eat ice cream after a shared North Indian meal. It seemed like he had not yet been weaned. Dairy is everywhere. Plopped on top here and there as if that will make it better.

Airola on ethical vegetarianism and therapeutic oyster shell calcium supplements - Awwwwwwwwwwww.

The human digestive system is incredibly adaptable. (See story below by George Ade). Unfortunately, humans CAN digest animal flesh. There are taboos that differ between cultures - some animals are eaten there but not here.

Books that I have benefited from: ... with short reviews. Movie reviews as well. Animal rights films plus mainstream films that have a food related theme - like Tampopo or Mostly Martha.

7/4/1976 - Looking at a half-eaten hotdog and bun on the Washington Monument grounds after the Bicentennial celebration and asking myself "What IS that?". Seeing it as if for the first time.

Is veg*ism just an easy way to be different and feel superior and self-righteous? If a majority became veg*n would I settle into mainstream bliss or would I go raw?

Eric and Desire'e - two hardcore vegans who were so glad to have found each other. They split up 6 months later. On asking a mutual friend why the two parted they said, "the only thing they had in common was their veganism".

I don't like being labelled. No one does. Vegan, vegetarian, faw foodist, etc. It is not a binary thing - or doesn't have to be. It is also a limiting thing - a la the Olympic gymnast Dan Millman. Better to label meals or individual food items. "IF" a label is applied to a person it should be a complex one - like I AM a "mostly vegan but always lacto-ovo vegetarian who sometimes eats refined sugars and flours (but it is a matter of daily practice not policy or absolutist vow)." There... that's the kind of "label" I would accept. I find this to be pragmatic in the current American culture that I find myself in. Being stricly vegan in a decidely non-vegan world is like being unwilling to step on a crack when walking on a sidewalk - it becomes another manifestation of a obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD - or more correctly CDO - alphabetized like it should be).

Shaw's quote about animals at his funeral.

Picture in Herbivore's bathroom about "the animals now have true cause for celebration having been removed from the 4 basic food groups".

The mock meat article - Peter H. Steeves. A quote from it and a link to the complete story.

Article in ~1977 VegNews about the heirarchy of eaters - from breatharians, to fruitarians, to vegans, to vegetarians, to pescetarians, ... all the way down to those scum who eat meat, fish, and fowl - those scum who happen to be the vast majority of our brothers and sisters. I'd like to find that article again. It gives one a perspective of acceptance and tolerance.

With some people we each would starve in each other's kitchens. Sad, huh?

Read "Are You Confused?" again and take quotes that inspired you. The one about humans love complexity and how they deify science. Tell the story about how you found Are You Confused, lecture by Nearings. quote from Airola about how protein is so important that a wise creator (or evolution) made it part of every living thing, every natural whole food.

2007, Brian Herbert, Kevin J Anderson, Sandworms of Dune: People strive to achieve perfection - ostensibly an honorable goal - but complete perfection is dangerous. To be imperfect, but human, is far preferable.

Picture of pink cupcake - "First sugar she has had. Not too hyper. Picture of Rory and face smeared (on purpose pushed by Marissa) with the requisite amount chocolate frosting. My wife made them from scratch - except for the M&Ms, that is. If he hadn't said 'she' I could have deduced it. I took one and congratulated Mom and Dad on reaching the milestone. A rite of passage for the child (and parents) into the world of refined foods. I will have a 'ceremonial bite'.

Quote Peter Singer in "Animal Liberation" from the introduction where animal lovers talk about how they love their dogs and cats while they eat ham sandwiches. My view is - let them be. Don't expoit, don't eat, don't adopt as pets, etc.

Many of us have very rigid food habits. When we go to restaurants we have the same tried and true thing every time. I like it. Why risk trying something new?

When one goes the veg*n route and decides to not conform to the status quo (and as Thoreau said, "march to the beat of a different drummer") there WILL be issues - unless you have very narrow life and a very restricted social circle you will confront you will come right up against the issues of breaking with tradition and you will need to deal with it.

Being a vegan police is not helpful. You're trying to change people. The raw foodist woman who used her words very precisly and deemed me not worthy of the word vegan. In retrospect I should have said, "I also use words very precisely and I would call you a hardcore, obsessive-compulsive, raw foodist, cranky vegan asshole".

Airola - leave us normal humans alone - you go live on the mountain in your ivory tower and dwell in your perfection.

We humans can be well and happy without eating meat, fish, or fowl (or milk or eggs). In fact, there is an abundance of evidence that we actually can be healthier without them. We can choose.
– Jon

Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much.
– Michael Pollan, from “In Defense of Food”

If you claim to be an environmentalist, food should be very important to you. It is the part of the environment that goes inside of you!
– Jon

Do as little as possible to your food between the ground and the tummy.
– Scott Nearing (1883-1983), from a lecture in 1976

I don’t eat anything that anyone has told me I shouldn’t eat.

– Dick Cavett, the 1970’s intellectual alternative to Johnny Carson. He was obviously making a pointed joke – and there is truth in humor.

What you eat or drink today will have no effect at all on your health. It is the pattern of what you eat every day that matters.
– Jon

The best way to vegucate children is to vegucate the parents.
– Jon

Choose a simple diet of whole foods and then forget about food. There are many much more important things in life.
– Baba Hari Dass

It’s always good to inquire about the ‘prequences’ (a word I coin - like antecedent) of the food we eat. What did it take to put this on my plate? Trace it all the way back. In your choosing, you are assuming responsibility for all of it.
– Jon

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Making (even growing) your own food (or a portion of it) is somehow more nutritious. If you only eat what others prepare you will eventually lack some new kind of vitamin – Vitamin O or M or Z.
– Jon

Homemade food is better than store-bought, even when it isn't.
There is a special ingredient (love?) in it that is simply not available to buy.
– Jon

One of the first things I learned about cooking (in 1972) is that if you put an extra carrot in beef stew it will not turn it into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – just a bit more carroty stew.
– Jon

It is better to eat junk foods and exercise a lot than it is to eat health foods and not exercise at all.

– Paavo Airola – from his book on hypoglycemia.
Of course, it is best to eat healthy foods and exercise as well.

Eat to please thyself. Dress to please others.
– Benjamin Franklin (1806-1890)

Our preferences and tastes change over time – influenced by many factors. If you don’t think they change just ask any food advertiser. Since they do change we should examine in what direction they are changing and ensure that it is healthful and not harmful.
– Jon

Break the rules now and then.
– Michael Pollan in “Food Rules”

Your body is a living organism subject to all the laws of nature.
– Paavo Airola in “Are You Confused?”

Q: If you cook green beans and then drain off the cooking water wouldn't you be discarding many valuable vitamins and minerals with that water?
A: Eat more beans.
– Julia Child (1912-2004)

This beef is organic, grass-fed, natural, sustainable, local, hormone free, antibiotic free, ecologically farmed, responsibly and humanely raised on small family ranches. This is all very good. But you did still need to kill the cow, yes? Cows raised for beef are actually killed at a very early age - 1 to 2 years. Their natural life span is 25 to 30 years so they are essentially babies when they are slaughtered. The same is true for pigs, sheep, turkeys, and chickens.
– Jon

Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.
– George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Saying that vegetarians only eat vegetables is like saying that Catholics only eat cats. – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

I have discovered an AMAZING, NEW, REVOLUTIONARY way to lose weight. It is the eat-less-do-more-and-lose-all-you-want diet.
– Paavo Airola

Some people believe that cell phones are dangerous – that the EMF radiation they emit will cause cancer. In my mind it is a question of Long Term Risk versus Short Term Benefit. Cell phones are so convenient in the short term that the long term risk (decades hence) really has no influence at all on the decision to use them or not. A similar thing might be said for food and drink although the long term risk is measured in years not decades.
– Jon

Some foods are such that “The more I eat it the more I like it.”. For me oatmeal is that way. For others peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Each person has their own.

– Jon

Note that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be a true health food if the bread is 100% whole grain, the peanut butter is just ground roasted peanuts, and the jelly is sweetened only with fruit. Yum!

Add a little to little and there will be a big pile.
– Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD)

A diet that will remedy a given condition will not necessarily prevent it. A therapeutic diet is often purposely deficient in one or more ways. An extreme example of this is a juice fast. It is wonderfully healing and cleansing but if you keep on it too long you will perish.
– Paavo Airola

A simple rule for evaluating any new suggestions: Is it natural? Does it make sense?
– Paavo Airola

If I try to do anything 100% I get cranky and that does not do me or anyone else any good at all.
– Jon

If you take care to Pronounce correctly the Words usually Mispronounced, you may have the Self-love of the Purist but you will not sell any goods.
– from “Fables in Slang” by George Ade (1866-1944)

There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats Grape-Nuts on principle.
– G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Special foods for special occasions.
Special occasions do not happen every day.
– Jon

Food for people not for profit.
– Francis Moore Lappé

Some people view their veg*ism as a kind of religion. Since it is not a good idea to “mess with people’s religion” one needs to be careful what you say around them. Other types of people simply love to follow rules and therefore the more rules they have the better. When they go to bed at night they evaluate their day by tallying how well they adhered to their list of rules.
– Jon

Eat Beans Not Beings
– a bumper sticker

It would be easier to argue
that sugar
is not good for you
if it weren’t sweet.
– Jon

There are so many things to eat. We don’t need to eat them all.

– Jon See What Do Vegans Eat below.

Nutritious and Delicious. Good and Good For You.

Our food is very close to our psyche.
– Jon

Because in my lifetime there will be no radical vegan revolution in our food system I need a strategy to live in peace while being surrounded by the massacre and the myriad self-induced health disasters. One way to a peaceful existence is to not try to change others.
– Jon

Early on I realized that no matter how non-proselytising (of the veg*n health ‘gospel’) I tried to be, others felt the implication that they should do as I were doing. The social custom of sharing food goes that deep.
– Jon

Breast milk is the most perfect and most natural food for a baby – and the breast is a triumph of packaging.
– Jon

I’d like to make a T-shirt with a picture of a lamb and a calf and the following words:

I don’t eat lamb or veal
because they’re baby animals.

On the back of the shirt would be a chart showing the age at which animals (not just lambs and calves) are killed for food compared to their natural life span.

Biologically, unless you enjoy the food you eat it will not be properly assimilated.
– Paavo Airola in “Are You Confused?”

I self-identify as a ‘mostly vegan lacto-ovo vegetarian’. When being vegan borders on OCD or unkindness, I accept (with no guilt) eating milk and eggs and refined flours and sugars. I draw the line at meat, fish, and poultry – including soups made with broths from such.
– Jon

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat scorched corpses.
– George Bernard Shaw

Oh, come! That boot is on the other leg. Why should you call me to account for eating decently? If I battened on the scorched corpses of animals, you might well ask me why I did that.

– George Bernard Shaw on being asked why he was a vegetarian

You ask me why I am a vegetarian. The real question is “Why are you not a vegetarian?”.
– Jon

Everyone makes their own compromise – given their unique circumstances – their body, their family, their preferences, their social context, the state of their knowledge and evolution. No one can really fault another for what they choose.
– Jon

Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal? True, he can and does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals; but this is a miserable way – as anyone who will go to snaring rabbits, or slaughtering lambs, may learn. Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.
– Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden

It seems that vegans have a certain regret that carnivores do not suffer immediate damnation or illness or repercussions of some sort for their merciless, gluttonous, unconscious complicity in the daily massacre. But they keep hoping. Conversely, vegans feel a certain disappointment that their well-earned good karma does not immediately manifest in vast wealth, fame, and good luck as a reward for their daily act of compassion. It will come. It will come. At least in the next realm, I'm sure.
– Jon


Recommended movies that have food-related messages:

I baked a cake for my father’s 70th birthday.

Health food advocate that I am I thought about making it with whole wheat flour, honey, etc. I reconsidered when I realized that birthday cake is not really food – it is ritual. There are many such rituals in our lives.
– Jon
Notice the cigarettes, the wine and the coffee. My father was quite addicted to all of the legal drugs. This was in a restaurant in 1992. One could still smoke in a restaurant in California. It was outlawed in 1995.

on a T-Shirt from
Cafe Press:

What Do Vegans Eat?

Ajowan Seeds
Anise Seeds
Cardamom Seeds
Caraway Seeds
Celery Seeds
Cubeb Seeds
Cumin Seeds
Coriander Seeds
Dill Seeds
Fennel Seeds
Fenugreek Seeds
Juniper Seeds
Mace
Mustard Seeds
Nigella Seeds
Nutmeg
Pomegranate Seeds
Poppy Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Sunflower Seeds

Corn Oil
Sunflower Oil
Safflower Oil
Polenta
Corn Bread
Tortillas
Tamales
Chips
Alfalfa Sprouts
Sunflower Sprouts
Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Tahini
Salad Dressings
Mustard

Chocolate
Carob
Cocoa
Arrowroot
Kuzu
Agar Agar
Nori
Kelp
Wakame
Hijiki

Artichokes
Arugula
Asparagus
Eggplant
Avocados
Bok Choy
Breadfruit
Broccoflower
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery
Chard
Cilantro
Collard Greens
Corn Salad
Endive
Fennel
Frisse
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lemon Grass
Lettuce
Corn
Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Nettles
New Zealand Spinach
Okra
Chives
Garlic
Onions
Shallots
Green Onions
Parsley
Peppers
Radicchio
Rhubarb
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Daikon
Radish
Rutabaga
Turnips
Wasabi
White Radish
Spinach
Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash
Zucchini
Cucumber
Patty Pans Squash
Pumpkin
Spaghetti Squash
Tat Soi
Tomato
Jicama
Jerusalem Artichoke
Potato
Sweet Potato
Yam
Water Chestnut
Watercress

Azuki Beans
Bean Sprouts
Black Beans
Black-eyed Peas
Borlotti Beans
Broad Beans
Chickpeas
Green Beans
Kidney Beans
Lentils
Lima Beans
Mung Beans
Navy Beans
Runner Beans
Soy Beans
Peas

Apples
Apricots
Bananas
Blackberries
Blackcurrants
Blueberries
Currants
Cherries
Cherimoya
Dates
Durian
Figs
Gooseberries
Grapes
Grapefruit
Huckleberries
Jackfruit
Jambul
Kiwi Fruit
Lemons
Limes
Lychee
Mangoes
Cantaloupe
Honeydew Melon
Watermelon
Nectarine
Oranges
Peaches
Pears
Plums/Prunes
Pineapples
Pomogranates
Raspberries
Western Raspberries
Rambutan
Redcurrants
Salal Berries
Satsumas
Strawberries
Tangerines
Wine
Juices
Vinegar
Brandy
Fruit Leather
Dried Fruits
Jellies
Chutneys
Jams
Raisins
Olive Oil
Date Sugar
Stevia
Sauerkraut
Pickles
Spices
Hot Sauce
Salsa
Tomato Paste
Teas

Barley
Brown Rice
White Rice
Basmati Rice
Bulgur
Cracked Wheat
Whole-wheat pasta
Couscous
Flaxseed
Millet
Oats
Quinoa
Rye
Spelt
Wheat Berries
Wild Rice
Bread
Spring Rolls
Cakes
Bagels
Cookies

Palm Oil
Coconut Oil
Walnut Oil
Peanut Butter
Almond Butter
Cashew Butter
Almond Cheese
Cashew Cheese
Walnut Cheese
Pecan Cheese
Mushrooms:
Chanterelle
Cremini
Button
Enoki
Morel Oyster
Porcini
Portabella
Shitake
Hard Tofu
Soft Tofu
Tempeh
Mung Bean Paste
Soy Sauce
Tamari Sauce
Mugi Miso
Natto (Soy)
Falafel
Soy Mayonnaise
Tofu Sour Cream
Soy Ice Cream
Vanilla Extract

Almonds
Brazil Nuts
Candlenuts
Cashew Nuts
Chestnuts
Coconut
Corn Nuts
Hazelnuts
Macadamia Nuts
Peanuts
Pecans
Pine Nuts
Pistachios

And More

from “Dietary Goals for the United States”

Published in February 1977. Prepared by the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the United States Senate – George McGovern, chair. Also Edward Kennedy, Gaylord Nelson, Alan Cranston, Hubert Humphrey, Robert Dole, Mark Hatfield.

“The social, cultural and psychological significance of food in our lives can scarcely be overestimated. Sharing of food is one of the prime social contacts; provision of food is one of the prime signs of caring.”

The report quotes Bruno Bettleheim’s article “Food to Nurture the Mind” (in May 1975 School Review):

“Eating and being fed are intimately connected with our deepest feelings. They are the basic interactions between human beings on which rest all later evaluations of oneself, of the world, and of our relationship to it. Eating experiences condition our entire attitude to the world, not so much because of how nutritious is the food we are given, but because of the feelings and attitudes with which it is given.”

“The social climate of a mental institution changes immediately if the entire staff, up to the top of the hierarchy, takes its meals with the patients. The fact that patients, staff, and doctors eat together, and eat the same fare, immediately reduced the levels of tension, the potentiality of violent outbreaks. And this not just at mealtime but all during the day and throughout the institution. Nothing is more divisive than when people eat a different fare, in different rooms.”

From the statement by Dr D. M. Hegsted, professor of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health:

“There will undoubtedly be many people who will say we have not proven our point; we have not demonstrated that the dietary modifications we recommend will yield the dividends expected. We would point out to these people that the diet we eat today was not planned or developed for any particular purpose. It is a happenstance related to our affluence, the productivity of our farmers and the activities of our food industry. The risks associated with eating this diet are demonstrably large. The question to be asked, therefore, is not why should we change our diet but why not? What are the risks associated with eating less meat, and more fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fat and cereal products – especially whole grain cereals. There are none that can be identified and important benefits can be expected.”


from “Following The Equator” by Mark Twain (1835-1910)

The brightest passenger in the ship, and the most interesting and felicitous talker, was a young Canadian who was not able to let the whisky bottle alone. He was of a rich and powerful family, and could have had a distinguished career and abundance of effective help toward it if he could have conquered his appetite for drink; but he could not do it, so his great equipment of talent was of no use to him. He had often taken the pledge to drink no more, and was a good sample of what that sort of unwisdom can do for a man – for a man with anything short of an iron will. The system is wrong in two ways: it does not strike at the root of the trouble, for one thing, and to make a pledge of any kind is to declare war against nature; for a pledge is a chain that is always clanking and reminding the wearer of it that he is not a free man.

I have said that the system does not strike at the root of the trouble, and I venture to repeat that. The root is not the drinking, but the desire to drink. These are very different things. The one merely requires will – and a great deal of it, both as to bulk and staying capacity – the other merely requires watchfulness – and for no long time. The desire of course precedes the act, and should have one’s first attention; it can do but little good to refuse the act over and over again, always leaving the desire unmolested, unconquered; the desire will continue to assert itself, and will be almost sure to win in the long run. When the desire intrudes, it should be at once banished out of the mind. One should be on the watch for it all the time – otherwise it will get in. It must be taken in time and not allowed to get a lodgment. A desire constantly repulsed for a fortnight should die, then. That should cure the drinking habit. The system of refusing the mere act of drinking, and leaving the desire in full force, is unintelligent war tactics, it seems to me. I used to take pledges – and soon violate them. My will was not strong, and I could not help it. And then, to be tied in any way naturally irks an otherwise free person and makes him chafe in his bonds and want to get his liberty. But when I finally ceased from taking definite pledges, and merely resolved that I would kill an injurious desire, but leave myself free to resume the desire and the habit whenever I should choose to do so, I had no more trouble. In five days I drove out the desire to smoke and was not obliged to keep watch after that; and I never experienced any strong desire to smoke again. At the end of a year and a quarter of idleness I began to write a book, and presently found that the pen was strangely reluctant to go. I tried a smoke to see if that would help me out of the difficulty. It did. I smoked eight or ten cigars and as many pipes a day for five months; finished the book, and did not smoke again until a year had gone by and another book had to be begun.

I can quit any of my nineteen injurious habits at any time, and without discomfort or inconvenience. I think that the Dr. Tanners and those others who go forty days without eating do it by resolutely keeping out the desire to eat, in the beginning, and that after a few hours the desire is discouraged and comes no more.

Once I tried my scheme in a large medical way. I had been confined to my bed several days with lumbago. My case refused to improve. Finally the doctor said,

“My remedies have no fair chance. Consider what they have to fight, besides the lumbago. You smoke extravagantly, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“You take coffee immoderately?”

“Yes.”

“And some tea?”

“Yes.”

“You eat all kinds of things that are dissatisfied with each other’s company?”

“Yes.”

“You drink two hot Scotches every night?”

“Yes.”

“Very well, there you see what I have to contend against. We can’t make progress the way the matter stands. You must make a reduction in these things; you must cut down your consumption of them considerably for some days.”

“I can’t, doctor.”

“Why can’t you.”

“I lack the will-power. I can cut them off entirely, but I can’t merely moderate them.”

He said that that would answer, and said he would come around in twenty-four hours and begin work again. He was taken ill himself and could not come; but I did not need him. I cut off all those things for two days and nights; in fact, I cut off all kinds of food, too, and all drinks except water, and at the end of the forty-eight hours the lumbago was discouraged and left me. I was a well man; so I gave thanks and took to those delicacies again.

It seemed a valuable medical course, and I recommended it to a lady. She had run down and down and down, and had at last reached a point where medicines no longer had any helpful effect upon her. I said I knew I could put her upon her feet in a week. It brightened her up, it filled her with hope, and she said she would do everything I told her to do. So I said she must stop swearing and drinking, and smoking and eating for four days, and then she would be all right again. And it would have happened just so, I know it; but she said she could not stop swearing, and smoking, and drinking, because she had never done those things. So there it was. She had neglected her habits, and hadn’t any. Now that they would have come good, there were none in stock. She had nothing to fall back on. She was a sinking vessel, with no freight in her to throw overboard and lighten ship withal. Why, even one or two little bad habits could have saved her, but she was just a moral pauper. When she could have acquired them she was dissuaded by her parents, who were ignorant people though reared in the best society, and it was too late to begin now. It seemed such a pity; but there was no help for it. These things ought to be attended to while a person is young; otherwise, when age and disease come, there is nothing effectual to fight them with.

When I was a youth I used to take all kinds of pledges, and do my best to keep them, but I never could, because I didn’t strike at the root of the habit – the desire; I generally broke down within the month. Once I tried limiting a habit. That worked tolerably well for a while. I pledged myself to smoke but one cigar a day. I kept the cigar waiting until bedtime, then I had a luxurious time with it. But desire persecuted me every day and all day long; so, within the week I found myself hunting for larger cigars than I had been used to smoke; then larger ones still, and still larger ones. Within the fortnight I was getting cigars made for me – on a yet larger pattern. They still grew and grew in size. Within the month my cigar had grown to such proportions that I could have used it as a crutch. It now seemed to me that a one-cigar limit was no real protection to a person, so I knocked my pledge on the head and resumed my liberty.


from “Tortilla Flat” by John Steinbeck (1902-1968)

At about this time in California it became the stylish thing for school nurses to visit the classes and to catechize the children on intimate details of their home life. In the first grade, Alfredo was called to the principal’s office for it was thought that he looked thin.

The visiting nurse, trained in child psychology, said kindly, “Freddie, do you get enough to eat?”

“Sure,” said Alfredo.

“Well, now. Tell me what you have for breakfast.”

“Tortillas and beans,” said Alfredo.

The nurse nodded her head dismally to the principal. “What do you have when you go home for lunch?”

“I don’t go home.”

“Don’t you eat at noon?”

“Sure. I bring some beans wrapped up in a tortilla.”

Actual alarm showed in the nurse’s eyes, but she controlled herself. “At night what do you have to eat?”

“Tortillas and beans.”

Her psychology deserted her. “Do you mean to stand there and tell me you eat nothing but tortillas and beans?”

Alfredo was astonished. “Jesus Christ!” he said, “what more do you want?”

In due course the school doctor listened to the nurse’s horrified report. One day he drove up to Teresina’s house to look into the matter. As he walked through the yard the creepers, the crawlers and the stumblers were shrieking one terrible symphony. The doctor stood in the open kitchen door. With his own eyes he saw the vieja go to the stove, dip a great spoon into a kettle and sow the floor with boiled beans. Instantly the noise ceased. Creepers, crawlers and stumblers went to work with silent industry, moving from bean to bean, pausing only to eat them. The vieja went back to her chair for a few moments of peace. Under the bed, under the chairs, under the stove the children crawled with the intentness of little bugs. The doctor stayed two hours, for his scientific interest was piqued. He went away shaking his head.

He shook his head incredulously while he made his report. “I gave them every test I know of,” he said, “teeth, skin, blood, skeleton, eyes, coordination. Gentlemen, they are living on what constitutes a slow poison, and they have from birth. Gentlemen, I tell you I have never seen healthier children in my life!” His emotion overcame him. “The little beasts,” he cried. “I never saw such teeth in my life. I never saw such teeth!”


“The Fable of The Day’s Work & The Morning After” by George Ade (1866-1944)

“Ade wrote this fable using the language and clichés of the moment. In other words, slang. He said that in order to let people know that he knew better than to use slang in writing, he decided to capitalize all suspicious words and phrases. He was mortally afraid that people would think that he was illiterate.”

The story beautifully illustrates how skilled we humans are at denial. I sometimes think that the gene that predisposes one to alcoholism is right next to a gene for denial; they are concomitant and expressed simultaneously.


PROMPTLY at 7.30 the Alarm Clock went off. The Rounder sat on the Edge of his Bed and wondered if there was Anything in it. His Tongue felt like a Rug. He was afraid to work his Face for fear it would Crack.

He took a Cold Plunge, rubbed some Pepper Sauce in his Hair, drank a Quart of Hot Water, gargled a Patent Preparation warranted to kill the Maroon Taste, and by that Time he was able to look at his Watch and realize that nobody in the whole World truly Loved him. He did not seem to have any keen Craving for Breakfast, so he drank two large ruby-red Cocktails, smelling like Furniture Polish, just as an Appetizer. After he got them placed he sat at the Window for a while, watching the Landscape straighten itself out. He remembered that he had two or three Friends, after all, so he decided to give this Earth another Trial. Accordingly he ordered up as many Ham and Eggs as could be forced on one Platter and two Stacks of Buckwheat Cakes, and he kept on until he had extinguished the Cocktails.

At an Early Age the Rounder had read in McGizzick’s Physiology that the Capacity of the Human Stomach is Three Pints. His Object in Life was to prove that McGizzick was away Off and must have got hold of a Youth’s Size.

After the Rounder had smothered the Cocktails under 80 Cents’ worth of Plain Food, he started for his Office, where he met a Drummer, who took him out to talk Business. They opened two or three Cold Bots and ate a few hillocks of Cottage Cheese, Souse, Dill Pickles, Radishes, Blutwurst and Rye Bread with Caraway in it, because they were Free. Then the Rounder excused himself because he had a Date for Luncheon. This light Repast consisted of Blue Points, Gumbo Soup, Fried Spring Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Cheese and other Food for the Gods floated to its Destination in a mixture of Ale and Stout, sometimes known as Liquid Buckshot. In the Afternoon our Hero went to his Club and played Pool, and whoever had it put on him had to buy what made Milwaukee famous for the Others. Along in the Middle of the Afternoon the McGizzick Theory did not have a Leg to stand on.

At Dinner Time he keyed up on Aqua Fortis and Bitters, which enabled him to take Nine Courses, with Red, White and Blue Irrigators to keep him Encouraged, and then four California Grapes for Dessert. By this Time, McGizzick, Author of the School Physiology, was a Liar by the Watch.

In the Evening the Rounder went to a Show. Between Acts he sauntered out with a few Western Gentlemen and seeped up frequent High Balls, accompanied by a little Snack of Oyster Crackers, the embalmed Herring known as the Blind Robin, Water Cress and Anchovies. After the Show they dropped in for their Broiled Lobster, Combination Salad, Welsh Rabbit and Nineteen Rounds of something to take. At a late Hour the Man who had demonstrated that McGizzick was an Ignoramus, went to his Brass Bedstead and lapsed into a State of Coma.

Next morning his Room was twisted. Some one had put a Bed of Live Coals under the Sheet. He felt as if he had swallowed a Steam Radiator and some one had gone down to repair it. He had a case of Bust-Head and a dry crackly Thirst. He sent for a Physician, and when the Learned Man came to make his Diagnosis, the Rounder said: “Doc, it’s my own Fault. I ate some Grapes last Night.”

MORAL: Avoid Fruit.


from “On Bread” by Sylvester Graham (1794-1851)

Sylvester Graham was one of the pioneers of dietary reform in the U.S. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister – hence the preaching tone of his language. The style of writing in the 19th century was generally quite complex and florid – witness Dickens and Melville.


But while the people of our country are so entirely given up as they are at present, to gross and promiscuous feeding on the dead carcasses of animals, and to the untiring pursuits of wealth, it is perhaps wholly in vain for a single individual to raise his voice on a subject of this kind. The farmer will continue to be most eager to increase the number of his acres, and to extort from those acres the greatest amount of produce, with the least expense of tillage, and with little or no regard to the quality of that produce in relation to the physiological interests of man; while the people generally, are contented to gratify their depraved appetites on whatever comes before them, without pausing to inquire whether their indulgences are adapted to preserve or to destroy their health and life. Yet if someone does not raise a voice upon this subject which shall be heard and heeded, there will soon reach us, as a nation, a voice of calamity which we shall not be able to shut our ears against, albeit we may in the perverseness of our sensualism, incorrigibly persist in disregarding its admonitions, till the deep chastisements of outraged nature shall reach the very “bone and marrow” of the human constitution, and fill our land with such a living rottenness, as now in some other portions of the earth, renders human society odious and abominable.

It would be difficult to ascertain at how early a period in the progress of society, mankind, in the preparation of wheat for bread-making, began to put asunder what God has joined together, and to concentrate the more purely nutrient properties, by separating the flour from the part commonly called the bran. The Bible speaks of fine flour or meal, as a portion of the meat offerings of the temple, but it is not probable this approached very near to the superfine flour of the present time.

We are informed also that the Romans, more than two thousand years ago, had four or five different kinds of bread – one of which was made of the purest flour, from which all the bran was separated. This was eaten only by the rich and luxurious. A second kind, in more common use was that from which a portion of the bran was taken; and a third kind, which was more generally used than any other, was that which was made of the whole substance of the wheat. A fourth kind was made mostly of the bran, for dogs.

But at whatever period in the history of the race, this artificial process was commenced, certain it is that in direct violation of the laws of constitution and relation which the Creator has established in the nature of man, this process of mechanical analysis is, at the present day, carried to the full extent of possibility; and the farina, and gluten, and saccharine matter of the wheat, are almost perfectly concentrated in the form of superfine flour. Nor is this all – these concentrated nutrient properties of the wheat are mixed and complicated in ways innumerable, with other concentrated substances, to pamper the depraved appetites of man, with kinds of food which always and inevitably tend to impair his health and to abbreviate his life.

Even bread, which is the simplest form into which human ingenuity tortures the flour of wheat, is, by other causes besides the concentration I have named, too frequently rendered the instrument of disease and death, rather than the means of life and health, to those that eat it.


from “Health Food Junkies” by Steven Bratman

This book is subtitled: “Orthorexia Nervosa – Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating”. See the author’s quite interesting website in which he terms his book “extremely non-best-selling”.


“One of the primary features of orthorexia is the feeling that we are better than others because of our fantastic diet. Since the rest of the world does not adhere to the God-given laws of healthy eating (as we uniquely understand them), we can’t eat with the rest of the world. Besides, a great deal of our identity is tied up in diet.” ... “The net effect is social isolation. The ancient satisfaction of breaking bread with a friend is denied us; we must either bring our own bread (a concoction of potato flour, amaranth, and spelt that only an orthorexic could love) or eat alone. This isolation is a real emotional harm caused by orthorexia. As my health food guru realized in Chapter 1, “Rather than eat my sprouts alone, it would be better for me to share a pizza with some friends.“ A good half or more of the joy of life comes from relationships; when orthorexia interferes with those relationships, it causes a real impoverishment of our lives.”


from “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

In “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau analyses the individual’s relationship to the state and focuses on why men obey governmental law even when they believe it to be unjust. But “Civil Disobedience” is not an essay of abstract theory. It is Thoreau’s extremely personal response to being imprisoned for breaking the law. Because he detested slavery and because tax revenues contributed to the support of it, Thoreau decided to become a tax rebel. There were no income taxes and Thoreau did not own enough land to worry about property taxes; but there was the hated poll tax – a capital tax levied equally on all adults within a community.

Thoreau declined to pay the tax and so, in July 1846, he was arrested and jailed. He was supposed to remain in jail until a fine was paid which he also declined to pay. Without his knowledge or consent, however, relatives settled the “debt” and a disgruntled Thoreau was released after only one night.

Thoreau may have also brooded over the reaction of Emerson, who criticized the imprisonment as pointless. According to some accounts, Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?”

Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

Henry’s question to Waldo is analogous to this: “The question is not why I am a vegetarian, the question is why are you not a vegetarian?”

The Airola Principle

The following is verbatim [as close as I could get it, anyway] from the audio tapes of an 11-day seminar that Paavo Airola (1918-1983) held in 1980 at the Feathered Pipe Ranch near Helena, Montana. He is not a native English speaker so there are some grammatical flaws but he is such a good communicator that his message gets through quite clearly, nonetheless.

Paavo Airola died of a cerebral aneurysm at age 65. Some might say that this early death invalidates everything he advocated. In his books he addressed this point in this way:

“Do not follow my teachings because I say so. I do not go for the Hollywood concept of the exalted celebrity or the revered guru. Follow my teachings because they are true.”

“None of us know how long we will live. There are no guarantees. The important point is that without good health we cannot enjoy the years we do have. ”

As you read you can listen to Dr. Airola speaking:


When the typical American is faced with health foods he is often appalled at how untasty it is. He feels that there is a certain suffering involved to sacrifice all these goodies. He used to love beer and she used to love chocolate cakes. And others used to love hamburgers. Others, of course, loved wine. And some partying, occasionally. And all these things you sacrifice because you have become a health faddist. And any books that you read, any programs you go on, they all recommend that you stick to this health lifestyle and you become faddist and we become afraid. Some of us don’t want to do anything. And we don’t feel good about it. You know, being a faddist is alright but if you have a hard heart of a faddist then it becomes difficult to endure. Many of us think that we have to endure some sacrifice to be healthy. Just like with brewers yeast we hate the taste but we eat it anyway and suffer because it is healthy. So we suffer and endure certain regimes put on ourselves and feel restricted. We restrict ourselves for some benefits that we will reap – sometime – maybe now – sometimes just live longer or avoiding this and that, and so forth. And there are feelings like this.

So I have some very good news for you today.

There is no reason to avoid any of those things that you wish to do. Living a healthy lifestyle will not automatically prohibit us from doing any of those things. (The punch line comes now ...)

You can violate every health rule – any and all health rules – provided you do this no more often than once a month. Any rule whatsoever. And not only will this not do any harm (and this is the whole essence of it) it will actually do you lots of good.

(from audience:) “but not for sick people, right?”

Yes. We’re talking, of course, about those healthy people who are on a health routine. If you’re in a hospital under doctor’s prescription and your doctor says do such and such, don’t tell your doctor,

“listen ... Dr. Airola said that I can violate any rule. I have already been in the hospital a month and now my day of Airola Principle has come in and I want to go out on the town tonight, doctor.”

No, no. We’re talking about healthy people who live on healthful regimes to prevent disease. We’re not talking about sick people on therapeutic diets, we’re talking about people on preventive, maintenance diets, living healthy lifestyles.

Now, why would I say that not only will this not harm you (this maybe some of you can understand), but how can it benefit you? Here’s how that works. Our system is equipped with protective mechanisms, we have specific glandular systems, specific glands in our body, which excrete specific protective elements, antigens and other elements which protect us against all kinds of unexpected stresses in our environment, because our creator knew we will always be subject to unexpected dangerous stresses, whether it is from bacterial source, from toxins or stresses or abuses of some sort. When a bear runs towards us, a bear in the woods. What we going to do? Well, the smart thing to do is to don’t move too fast, sit down, relax, he looks at you, and maybe he walks away. But let’s say he already runs towards you very fast and you decide to run away from him. How are you going to run away from him at that speed that you have never done before? Some people say they jump over fences like deer when they run from the bear. Where do they get the power? The adrenaline and other elements in your body mobilizes immediately, we are prepared for emergencies, we have that mechanism. Imagine if you would structure your life in such a way that you do not subject yourself to any stresses, ever. Everything is so structured, you always sleep normal life, you never abuse yourself nutritionally, never do any kind of violations of any rule, and you are such a such a superb, perfect purist and perfectionist that everything you do is just absolutely perfect and perfect and perfect.

(from audience:) “that’s impossible!”

No, that is possible because some people come quite close to it. Then your mechanisms, the protective, defensive mechanisms in your system would atrophy gradually because it has never been subjected to anything. If your body is never subjected to any kind of poisons of any kind, like I said before, one mosquito bite may kill you because the body will have no defensive ability to protect itself. But if you subject yourself to occasional stresses, periodic stresses, then your body will develop a resistance against this, will be always on preparedness and ready to meet the demands of stress, and protect itself when it is needed.

I learned that principle interestingly in Canada when I lived there on a farm and I had made some observations. Down on my farm by the lake, we had a forest. I had hundred acre farm there. There was a beautiful forest with beech trees, huge beech trees, it was a high forest. Among those beech trees, we had white birch, beautiful white birch, growing between those beech trees. In order to reach the sun, that birch had to grow a long long way to pass all those big trees to come to the sun. Long, narrow and tall and all white, slim, narrow, beautiful birches. Among the wood, basically perfect white lines with little black dots, growing beautiful among those.

Because those birches were never subjected to the winds, protected by all these beech trees and quietness and stillness of the thick woods, they were never subjected to stresses or storms or winds of any kind. They were so weak, that you can take the birch like this, and pull it down and crack it right down. Just pull like this and down and bang you break it without much effort.

On the same farm, we had a hill behind our barn, little hill and rocks, and there grew birches also. I lived in birch area. There, I have seen in Sweden those birches, they grow in Hälsingland, in the mountains there. Helmer Osslund painted those in pictures very often, famous Swedish artist. The birches on the top of the hill, look like this, all curved and twisted. Because wind and storm blew them constantly all the time, to all directions, and they became very very crooked and twisted and short and all bent like that.

Have you seen birches like that? You could take one of those birches, twist around, and make 8 out of it and it would never break. It was so resilient, so strong. That strength and resistance developed then by stress. So you see, avoiding all stresses that is not the right thinking; stresses build up resistance and strength. Just the right amount of stresses, not too much stresses, but the right amount of stresses. Stress is the slayer and stress is the builder. To paraphrase the words of Casey [Edgar Casey] who says the mind is the slayer and mind is the builder, somebody wrote a book with that title now. That’s what stress is, excessive stress is harmful, certain amount of stress is extremely beneficial. So, on the basis of that, I’ve developed this philosophy of mine. Some other things compared to that was, for example, known fact, that when you raise children, and you have seen in some slums or some low development children, they’re running all in the street, running around with runny nose dripping all around and dirty hands and dirt on the streets and raised in that kind of environment in the street. These kids grow up strong and are never sick, but rich people kids, who always wash hands, who are always protected, never subjected to germs, they get sickly and have low resistance, because they never developed that resistance. We believe now in medicine that subjecting children to various infectious diseases, measles and other things supports it the same way. So they structured that.

The Hunzas, every month or so they have festivities. They are vegetarians, they live frugal life and very healthy diet. Once a month, they have a fiesta of some sort, always some fiesta. They kill their pig, they roast their pig, make their homemade wine, and they eat and overeat, and drink and dance all night. At the big feast, maybe day or even two. If there is no religious feast available, it is a wedding or funeral – always they find some reason to celebrate like this occasionally approximately once a month. And when this is over and when the headache and hangover disappears, they go back to work and live another month and they live a frugal life, looking forward to a month later to have another fiesta. Here we come to the psychological benefits of Airola Principle. The psychological factor, knowing that you don’t have to suffer, you don’t have to sacrifice, you know that it is just temporary, you know that once a month you can allow yourself to go loose and do whatever you always wanted to do – without harm, but even with benefit. That gives you a psychological release from a strict discipline. Any kind of discipline has various sorts of killing, destructive, depressing, and repressing effects on human beings. Because we are free souls, we have to be free, we like to do what we want and yet we put ourselves in the discipline. Churches apparently recognize this need, this inherent need in human beings, for that release, that let-go period, and that’s why all these festivities apparently are structured there. Most sort of religious groups do that.

On this basis I developed my Airola Principle that goes like this: When you eat the optimum diet, and adhere to all these principles, take all the vitamins, live very good, and rest and exercise, and build your health and this sort of thing – if – now I don’t want to go so far as to say that you have to do the Airola Principle – of course not. If you are happy and perfectly in peace and satisfied and content with yourself that you can live always a highly structured and strictly disciplined life and never do any deviations from that – if that is your bag – by all means, do it. However, if you are not one of those, if you are one of those majority who feel that an occasional thing would a really release and would be beneficial for your mind, for your ego, for your whatever you like to do that – you know we are social human beings we like to have social events and we have to celebrate. Celebrations of all kinds are beneficial. You know we have to celebrate things, all kinds – even devise reasons to celebrate. If you are one of those, and if you want to do that, if you do that once a month – and that is the secret – no more than once a month – that will not only not do you much harm it will actually do you lots of good. In other words I want you then to do that without guilt because guilt is the important thing that you have to avoid here because now most of you are doing that anyway whether I say that or not but you have guilt that you violated something and something is wrong committed and you have that guilt. But if you know that that will not harm you but actually do you lots of good then it will allow you to do it without guilt.

Now the danger is – why I never wrote about this principle – why I never like to put it on the tape because many people misunderstand that. One of the things that first comes in their mind is, of course, that, okay, Dr. Airola likes to win lots of friends and no enemies so he allows to do anything of this sort and caters to the weaknesses of people just to please them. This is one thing that comes to mind. Well this is the farthest thing from my mind really because I long ago went over that stage. You already know me here that I am one who believes and says what I believe and call a spade a spade whether you like it or not. This is not much of my concern. I know what is truth and know what I believe and I tell the truth and I know that some people don’t like me telling the truth and are not pleased very much. I could win many more friends if I would be in the middle of the road and recommend you know just wishy-washy. I’m not one of those guys. So that is not the reason I am telling you that – the reason is really because I happen to believe that that principle is valid and based on solid scientific fact. Any questions?

(from audience:) “the Richard Jackson Syndrome”

Okay – The Richard Jackson Syndrome. One of my students was impressed by this and felt that it was a valid principle. I met him in Los Angeles last winter and we had dinner together – oh not together – I had dinner with my group and he had dinner with his wife or girlfriend.

“Where are you going?”, I asked him.

“I am on my way to Tijuana.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to use the Airola Principle that I have saved for five months and now I’m going to have five days off and have an Airola Principle binge.”

Okay, this is not the way to do it. No, you cannot do that. Even if you miss some you can do only one day and only once a month and you cannot just save five months and have a five day destructive thing. That is too much and you may damage your health too much by doing that. You see what I mean? That’s what we call the Jackson Syndrome because that boy’s name is Jackson.

Any other questions? Tell me – Any of you here feel that that principle is definitely ... oh that’s the way it goes ... like this [thumbs up]? Do you feel that that is a valid principle? Does it make sense what I told you? Well, wonderful, wonderful.

So remember – one month from now, from today – you can start this practice!