Last week I briefly discussed Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food," which begins with three simple rules to live by for a healthy life. "Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants." Pollan makes it very clear that the human animal is an omnivore. That is, the human animal enjoys food from a variety of sources, including meat.
As far as diet, CrossFit's description of world class fitness in 100 words (and fitness is a continuum of health) looks a little different from Pollan's advice. It begins with "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar." It is too simplistic to consider this a debate between the health benefits of a vegetarian versus carnivorous diet, especially if we consider Pollan's first statement, "eat food." Pollan has a very particular understanding of food. Food is not the same thing as an 'edible substance.' Nor is food a novelty. In fact one of Pollan's recommendations is to stay away from any food-like substance that didn't exist over 100 years ago. Hydrogenated vegetable oil did not exist 100 years ago; it is an invention produced in a lab. This same rule also applies to the myriad of food-like substances that are the result of hours of labouring in the science lab, for the purpose of selling on the market, a proprietary blend of 'ingredients' that best mimic the taste, smell and look of meat. Fake meat is best described as a wolf in sheep's clothing. It is filled with unrecognizable, impossible to pronounce, ingredients. But it is cloaked by an aura of health and wholeness.
Now, I am not recklessly advocating that eating meat is de facto a healthy choice. Animal flesh has an entire history that preceeds its arrival on our plates. Commercial meat represents a small fraction of what Pollan refers to as the industrial food complex; a technocratic machine with countless interconnected branches. The meat of a cow that is fattened as quickly as possible at a feed lot, injected with antibiotics, and shipped to a slaughterhouse is not the same meat as that of a cow raised on grass, and humanely killed. One thing is for certain: it is cheap and there is plenty of it. Or as Little Miss Higgin's puts it: "They just want more of what they don't really need." Perhaps North American's policy of cheap and plentiful food is a symptom of its egoism - this unarticulated belief that humans are masters of a separate ecology rather than in a symbiotic relationship with it. I am not even sure how I would articulate the concept of ecology but it is something that I am thinking about more and more.