30 Days Meat-Free

I guess Independence Day is the apex of meat season in America.  I imagine it’s the Black Friday for companies like Johnsonville and Foster Farms.  The whole year is spent focusing on this quarter and creating an equilibrium between supply and our ever-growing demand.

I’ve thought a lot about social norms lately and why we, as a society, do the things we do.  Who influences our collective culture?  Do our innermost desires fluctuate based on our experience?  And if so, how much of our “experience” is advertising?  I think we can philosophically debate most of these questions, but the last is easy to answer.  On average, we are exposed to 5,000 ad messages per day.  This ranges from the overt ad on Facebook reminding you that you left items in your Wayfair cart to a subtle logo on your T-Shirt.  It’s Mario Lopez telling you what the Kardashians are wearing.  It’s Tucker Carlson saying the government is trying to take your guns.  It’s Carrie Bradshaw spending her rent money on Manolo Blahniks.  It’s the ever-present stream of useful/useless content filling your eye-holes.

So how do I even know if I have a genuine thought?  It’s impossible to think that our thought process is not, at the very least, slightly influenced by marketing.  And at the most, it is completely overtaken by propaganda.  More and more, companies are dictating what it means to be an American, and we are buying it.  You’re a good American if you fire up the grill and serve up all the major meat groups.  You’re a good American if you celebrate the holidays by buying as much as you can. Find a girl that’s DTF, buy a ring worth 3x your monthly salary, spend $30,000 on the ceremony, buy a 4 bedroom house in the burbs (because real America doesn’t live in big cities.) It’d be really nice if you could forget everything that it really means to be American and just buy what I am selling… food, oil, land, politicians, garbage made by children in sweat shops.

I know what you’re thinking right now.  This seemed like a harmless enough post about temporary vegetarianism.  Like maybe you’d be reading about how I tried Brussel Sprouts for the first time and, ya know what, they aren’t half bad!  Instead, you got some hippie losing their shit because she just realized that (surprise) America is a capitalist society.  And now you’re 5 minutes deep in the incoherent rambling of some chick who’s worked in malls for 15 years waxing philosophical.  Geesh!  To tell you the truth, dear friend, I’m not completely sure why I haven’t held my middle finger firmly on the Backspace key, forgotten all about this pseudo-anger, and gone to Starbucks for a $6 latte.  I know this might offend people that I love.  People that think the American Dream is something to strive for, to break your back for.  And I’m not saying that it’s not (that was a double negative.  It means that I do think it’s worth it. English is weird.)

Okay, this is getting away from me.  Let’s get back on track.  This is already bigger than 30 Days, but I think that’s the point.  And this is my blog, so there.  I started 30 Days with the goal to experience things that challenged me and changed me.  And I assure you, I have been (challenged and changed.)  If you’d like to get nostalgic, you can read one of my original blog posts where I described wanting to run a 5k so I’d have a better shot at outrunning zombies, muggers, and vegans.  Burn.  Now I’m writing about anti-establishment principles from a vegan café in Eugene, Oregon.  I didn’t have granola.  I AM granola.  It’s been 7 years since that first month.  When I just had this list of amazing things and I wanted to try them all.  I recently told a friend that I was going vegetarian for a month, and she said, “oh, are you doing 30 Days again?”  And to be honest, I had completely forgotten that this is a thing I do.  Either I’ve made such a habit of it, that I am no longer cognoscente of my actions, or I’m such a doofus that I forgot I have this blog that at least 10 people enjoy.  At least!  I see you, beautiful people 🙂

Okay, back to meat.  Most people decide to go vegetarian for one of three reasons: moral/ethical, health, and environment.  So I guess I’ll start there.  The moral argument is easy.  If you can’t look into something’s eyes and bash it over the head, how can you gnaw on a drumstick?  If you give to the ASPCA and are morally outraged when you see dogs being abused, you should also probably not eat bacon, because pigs are super smart and lovable and are mistreated to the point of getting neurological disorders.  You know when your dog is distressed by fireworks and goes and hides in the bathtub and you’re really worried about him?  That’s pretty much how that pig felt for it’s entire life, but didn’t even have space to turn around, let alone a bathtub to hide in.  You can make the argument that there are some ethically raised livestock, and I would agree with you.  But “natural”  and “farm fresh” don’t mean shit.  Knowing where your food comes from is something we have gotten too far away from.  Get to know your butcher, go splitsies with your neighbors on a half calf, and do your homework.  There are well paid marketing teams whose only job is to put a happy spin on what is in that package.

There have been several articles about the environmental impact of livestock.  We are cutting down rainforests to make room for cattle.  We are polluting water supplies with excrement.  Don’t even get started on cow farts.  It’s a big problem!  I am obviously not an environmental scientist, but this one seems to be pretty obvious.  You could disagree and say that there are a lot of things hurting the environment, and humans aren’t causing climate change, or whatever some highly paid lobbyist spouted as truth. But isn’t it more dangerous to argue? Wouldn’t it be a better solution if we just tried, just a little bit, to be nicer to this world that provides everything we need to survive?

Finally, is it healthy to eat meat?  Now remember, meat is a product that someone is selling.  As such, we need to realize that our opinion of it is highly influenced by advertising.  Let’s break down some slogans.
Beef.  It’s what’s for dinner.  The Incredible Edible Egg.  Eat More Chikin.  Where’s the beef?
None of these slogans are saying this food is healthy, or nutritious, or part of a balanced diet because it would be an illegal misrepresentation to do so.  Literally, the slogans are just telling you that you can eat this.  It’s edible.  It’s like saying: Cat Food.  If you’re starving.  I can’t skip over advertising permeating culture without mentioning bacon.  Bacon could run for president in 2020 and win in a giant fucking landslide based purely on the fact that it is delicious, universally beloved, and not Donald Trump.  Bacon is Chuck Norris.  Donuts, Bloody Marys, T-shirts, tattoos, Bandaids, and toothpaste can align their brand with bacon and win.  It’s as American as apple fucking pie.  Yes, it’s delicious.  And I never thought I’d take a stance this polarizing.  But it’s true.  I’ve given up on bacon, because bacon is slowly killing me.  All of us really.  The fat content in meat is clogging our arteries and contributing to diabetes.  The carcinogens are giving us cancer.  The unregulated antibiotics pumped into these animals is making us more susceptible to common illness and making our immune system weaker. 

So without really knowing how long this will last, or when I will change my mind, I am a vegetarian… for at least 30 Days at a time.

December – Nike Fuelband Month

The most beautiful, brilliant, and thoughtful woman in the world happens to be my best friend.  She also happens to give very good birthday gifts, like the Nike Fuelband she gave me last month for my 31st.  So I decided to take on the challenge – meet a goal of 2500 fuelpoints each day of December.  This seemed pretty easy, considering 2500 is an average goal for women my age and I have a fairly active job.

So what is a Fuelband?  The Nike Fuelband is a motivational tool to inspire activity.  It uses an accelerometer to track movement, and converts it, based on your height and weight, into a fitness currency called FuelPoints.  It also tracks approximate steps and calories burned and displays the time!

For my challenge, I decided to go with the goal Nike recommended – 2500 points per day. The first couple of days were easy peazy.  Forty-five minutes on the treadmill earns about 1800 points.  An eight hour workday is 700-1500 points depending on the busyness.  Walking casually around town earns about 250 points every half hour.  House cleaning is about the same.  Unfortunately, activity that doesn’t involve quick arm movements, like the Pilates class I took only earned 200 points in an hour.

Week 1 – 18,387 total FuelPoints. 57% Goals Hit. 8,772 Steps per Day.  Best Day of the Week – 3,935 FuelPoints on Thursday.

Then, on Tuesday of Week 2, my Fuelband broke.  The additional piece that customizes the fit of the Band broke off and I couldn’t find it.  It took me a couple days to get it into the Nike Store for repair.  Once I brought it in, they hooked me up with a new piece and I was ready to go – again.

Week 2 – 14,088 total FuelPoints. 29% Goals Hit.  6,694 Steps per Day. Best Day of the Week – 3,728 FuelPoints on Thursday.

Mondays are usually days spent completely in an office with little work activity.  If I don’t go to the gym afterwards, it results in a day like Week 3 Monday – 1,209 FuelPoints.  Then, I forgot to put it on Thursday morning before I left the house for the day.

Week 3 – 18,147 total FuelPoints. 71% Goals Hit. 8,988 Steps per Day.  Best Day of the Week – 4,308 FuelPoints on Tuesday.

Then I started to get a cold.  The last week of December in retail is pretty brutal and I was done.  Then, on December 29th, I got an error message to plug it into a computer and sync.  Who uses a computer anymore?

Week 4 – 8,688 total FuelPoints. 0% Goals Hit. 3,117 Steps per Day.  Best Day of the Week – 2,077 FuelPoints on Friday.

Breakdown for December
61,150 FuelPoints
35% of Goals Hit
6,380 Steps Per Day
463 Calories Burned Per Day
2,264 Average FuelPoints per day

So here’s the bottom line.  The FuelBand is is a great motivational tool, and that’s exactly it.  You shouldn’t expect it to track all your activity accurately.  You can get more points clapping at a seated concert than you would riding a bike across town.  Some friends have trouble syncing and can’t retrieve the previous days activity.  It’s got some problems.  Some bugs.  Some kinks.  There are definitely ways to improve.  But when the words at the bottom of the NikeFuel app say “1800 points behind vs Women 30-39,” it’s pretty motivating.  How the heck are these old ass women beating me?  I’ll show them!

Best Of – Cider

cider sorbetI know I just had Cider Month in October, but my favorite artisan ice creamery Salt and Straw has a Bushwhacker Spiced Cider Sorbet.  As I’m sure you all remember, I visited the Bushwhacker tasting room for Ciderfest and it was fantastic!  The sorbet was just as incredible.  How could it not be?  Mixing ice cream and booze is always a good combination.

Best of – Running

Running Month was more like 2. Marpril of 2011. When I went from being winded after running 30 seconds to being able to run a very slow, extremely arduous 5k. Win! In October of that same year, I ran the Portland Half Marathon in 2 hours 15 minutes. Running has never been easy for me. Shin splints and allergies kept me and running at arms length for most of my life. It was something I loathed. Why would I need to run when there will be hover chairs in a few short years?? Eventually a daily allergy pill and specially fitted running shoes would eliminate all my excuses. Except for laziness. That will *always* be a valid excuse.

So I started the Couch to 5k training program and eventually began to love it. The quiet street with soggy leaves under my feet. The treadmill at 11pm with only me and the cleaning lady. The bridges and streets up ahead and far behind. The focused calm of my mind. It was something I craved. My legs would get restless and my mind would wander and I knew I needed to run. I’m still not good at it. A 10 minute mile is my personal best. I’ll go months without running and then, all of a sudden, feel this urge that won’t dissipate. So, for Best Of Month, I wanted to run a whole 5k without walking. It took me 4 tries, but I finally did it in 35 minutes. My new goal for 2014 is to run another half in under 2 hours

Best Of – Healthy Eating

I watched a few food documentaries and freaked the fuck out. Animal cruelty, Monsanto corporate greed and brainwashery, genetically modified science experiments, barely distinguishable nutrients, semi-food food… It’s pretty disgusting. And as a person that occasionally struggles with sickness, I had to wonder how this crap is effecting my immune system. I decided to take a food challenge. 50% or more of my daily food intake was fruits and vegetables and as much raw as possible. Smoothies, salads, soups and sautéed veggies filled my day. It was a real eye-opener. A really delicious eye opener. I had more energy and felt generally healthier.

At the time, I lived in SE Portland. I was ordering weekly fruit and veggie deliveries from Organics To You. They have a huge box of fruits and veggies delivered right to your door for $27. I wound up moving outside the delivery area and cancelled it, but now I’m back! So, for Best Of Month, I started it up again. And with the help of a borrowed juicer, enjoyed a new way of getting nutrient rich, healthy food. Now that I’ve had access to a juicer, I can’t imagine life without it. It’s so easy and tasty and good for you. I see a juicing month in my future…