Some might accuse me of being such a home body because I’ve never really been anywhere, and to an extent, they are right. I’ve been to Dallas a few times growing up, but beyond a trip to Six Flags Arlington, I never really explored the city. I’ve made the rounds to the theme parks of Southern California, but I can count those trips on one hand. I’ve never been north of Fresno, so I have no idea what the trees look like in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been around Southern Arizona quite a bit as well as Phoenix, but I have rarely explored the northern part, which is why my trip to Page, Arizona was quite exhilarating (I’m sure I’m the only one in Arizona that has ever said a trip to a sleepy town like Page was exciting!). And even though my state is being overrun by mindless extremists that continue to think they are powerless and have no voice (even though they have controlled the state for 20 years and subsequently run it into the ground, turning us into a western version of Mississippi!), I still like living here due to the lack of bugs and the general friendliness I find in my home town. So it always pains me when I see assholes posting garbage like “Keep Tucson Shitty” or putting stuff on Facebook like “Tucson sucks.” I always say one thing, if you don’t like it, move out. If you feel miserable and disgusted with something, why fester in the puss when you can make a break for it? Oh that’s right, because you secretly like the place but it is cooler to be a jack-ass that hates something rather than acknowledge deep down you kind of like it. Sure, I have my dislikes as well, but that is in the realm of mostly movies and music, which is easy to avoid. I don’t normally follow trends, merely because everything is always being designated as “mind blowing” and “amazing,” when really it isn’t. People were all “amazed” by FKA Twig’s performance on the Tonight Show earlier this week, and while the stuff she did with her scarf was kind of cool, her music was pretty boring and her voice was terrible (on the other hand, Prince’s 8-minute performance on Saturday Night Live was pretty darn awesome!). But oh well, something is cool as long as enough people say it is, contrary to the truth. And with the multitude of platforms available to us, trends are easy to spark and create.
I was a bit saddened a couple weeks ago when one of Tucson’s pro-vegan groups called Healthy You folded it’s tents. For those that have read this blog long enough, they will know that the people of Healthy You generously sent me to Washington, D.C. to participate in the first conference held by the pro-vegan group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). I learned a lot about the health benefits of the plant based diet, and it was one of many reasons why I decided to ultimately ditch the meat and dairy. Sure, I get headaches when I don’t eat enough and my world is still chalked full of meat eaters, but I have become more and more at ease with my decision. A more jaded person might accuse me that I was bought off with a free trip or that I’m a part of some fad, but if that was the case, I would have dumped this diet a long time ago and continue my slow journey to diabetes and heart disease (which I was well on my way with before). If anything, I just feel better about everything I do, whether it be the runs I take of the tough workouts I do at Parsons Training. My recovery and energy have provided more than enough impetus for me to continue. The sad thing about Healthy You is the fact they blamed the proliferation of other trends as the downfall of their organization. Citing other eating trends sounds kind of like a convenient excuse and complaining about better organized health campaigns is kind of a cop-out. If anything, the organizations’s lack of broad appeal was the main reason for its downfall. The militant ideal of the central leadership, at least from what I have heard, was a big reason why people stopped supporting the organization. Sure, you can blame the more savvy Anti-Gluten people or the Paleo Diet aficionados, but in the end, it always comes down to the lack of being an inviting presence. It’s something I struggle with too, for I try to tell people there is nothing wrong with being vegan. It’s even tougher convincing men there is nothing wrong with not eating meat and dairy. The biggest issue I see within the plant based movement has been the feminization of it by more powerful trade organizations, and it certainly isn’t getting any easier with all of these numbskulls out there claiming meat is power (when in reality, working out and becoming stronger, which is something food cannot do alone, is the source of that actual power those commercials portray).
But here is the bigger question…Why do some health movements gain more traction? The ultimate problem is the marketing, which is something I have constantly harped about in regards to plant based eating. Right now, the whole plant based eating movement is something of an unorganized mess. You got some vegans denouncing all forms of contact with animal products, putting down people who are not 100% dedicated to the cause because I will occasionally watch sports and buy shampoo that is not cruelty-free certified. You have vegans protesting in supermarkets and fast food joints. You have vegans talking about how it reverses bad health problems, especially in your late life when people who have eaten the “standard American diet” suddenly find themselves at the will of pill side effects. You have militants that say “My way or the highway!” And what makes it even worse is you have a well moneyed, well connected media machine that loves to lambast vegans at every turn. (look up “Chicken Lady” and you will see what I mean, but on the other hand, the woman pretty much set herself up for such vitriolic name calling). If anything, changing the perception of plant based eating is a tough job, and I too struggle with the message myself. I hate seeing those, smug, faux tough jerk-offs in those hunting photos, acting like they are so tough even though they needed a high powered rifle to even the odds against a beast that would easily kill them. But what can I really say? If they went through the proper channels to get a hunting permit and obeyed the specific rules, what can I really do? I hate that stupid question “What do you do about protein?” merely from the fact our country’s waistline is growing from the perceived lack of it. Unless everyone in the country is going to become a fitness model or a bodybuilder or a power lifter or a pro athlete, you really don’t need as much protein as you think you need. And then of course, there is the feminization of rejecting meat and dairy, that eating plants somehow means I am less of a man even though I could probably beat down about 90% of the idiots that make such ludicrous claims (but I don’t, because being plant based kind of evens out my mood).
Unfortunately, plant based eating doesn’t have a trendy specialty diet to cling to for its popularity. I think the biggest reason why bacon has been so popular was due to the rather ridiculous Atkins Diet, which has ultimately inundated us with ridiculous items like Bacon Ice Cream and even Bacon Beer. There was a pretty funny episode from the old show “King of Queens” (I know it was awful, but I watched a lot of reruns when I binge ate!) when Doug goes on the Atkins diet and loses a bunch of weight. “Who would have thought eating bacon all the time would be good…that’s a diet I can stick to!” Of course, Kevin James regained all of that weight in real life, so the episode was kind of moot. But why is selling a plant based diet so hard?
Personally, I try to go with the environmental side of the coin. The meat industry is using too much water, too much grain and corn and is leaving behind mountains of waste and blood. And to make matters worse, due to the increased demand and drought conditions in the United States, means we are most likely going to see meat products sent from China! And considering China is a festering pit of pollution, do you really want to see an increase in chinese chicken when they can’t even govern their own food supply? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/chinese-poultry-processor_n_3866877.html But of course, I’m the extremist considering I don’t like the idea of eating meat with cadmium in it or meat that might be fox and rat meat, which has already happened in China. If anything, I feel two simple messages need to be utilized. “Eating more plants is good for your health” and “Do you really want to eat anything from China!” Now you can accuse me of xenophobic all you want, but trust me, even if I was a meat eater still, I would be disgusted by the idea of eating meat outside of the US. Of course, when I was addicted to food, I really didn’t care at the time, but my eyes have been opened. I don’t feel any remorse anymore for the mistakes I used to make, butI feel like I need to tell everyone what I have seen and what I have read. And so I have a rather simple message, one that I think some will like and some will probably hate.
“Eat Better and expect better.” If you want to take the leap and go vegan, I wouldn’t mind helping you and providing support. It’s time I start passing on my experience and my pitfalls with other people. It’s time I be a better role model, and I hope to help people that it’s not just about loving animals, but about making yourself as independent as possible. Do you really want to rely on pills the rest of your life because you have high cholesterol and low energy due to perceived “Low T?” (which is kind of a bullshit movement, because if you don’t eat well and exercise, then of course you’re going to be lethargic and impotent). Do you really want the side effects, especially if you take care of yourself better? If you answered “No” for either of those questions, then the first step to be a better is possible. Now you just need to take that leap.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at. http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.