For those of you who haven't heard yet, S.A.D. is the amazingly astute abbreviation for the Standard American Diet we have traditionally been taught in school. I grew up like most American kids in the 70's and 80's, eating meat every meal, lots of packaged and processed snacks and cheeses. It's a wonder I could still taste vegetables (which luckily I ate too.) It wasn't my parents fault. Our family was just mirroring a nation of families spiraling into nutritional crisis.
Flash forward to 1999 at the University of Tennessee where I made friends with visiting artist, Pamela Fraser. Meeting Pamela changed my life in many ways, but in the context of this post, she was the first person following a VEGAN diet that I had ever met!
It TOTALLY rocked my world. I mean it. Completely blew my mind!
I had absolutely no idea that someone could live without eating meat! Now, I know it's hard, but let's just remember that this was pre-internet ok? I had never even heard of eating vegetarian, much less vegan! I immediately started to investigate and experiment with this whole world of new found possibility. There was Tofu! Tempeh! Seitan! (Not SATAN, I learned about him in Bible school!) and SO MANY BEANS! A veritable world of tastes and cooking techniques that until that point were completely unknown to me! I became completely enraptured with this topic, probably much to the annoyance of friends and family members I might add. I was so enthralled with these new discoveries it hadn't occurred to me that anyone might not want to experiment themselves. I mean, who wouldn't want to be more healthy, RIGHT? :
My new food passion even infiltrated the imagery of my work during those years.
You can take a look at that work here. :)
I then had the serendipitous experience of reading "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser while on my way (my first plane trip, BTW) to China. It was incredible to be experiencing first hand what I had been reading in disbelief on my way over on the plane. There was indeed a KFC at the Great Wall of China. There was a forty foot fiberglass sculpture of Colonel Sanders in a square in Beijing! You could literally see traces of obesity, heart disease and diabetes beginning to surface around the injection of American Fast-food culture. I felt embarrassed and infuriated about how we were being recklessly endangered around the globe with these addictive hydrogenated HF CS cocktails. Unfortunately, most people were convinced that the FDA was looking out for them and that if it wasn't "healthy" for us, "they" wouldn't be selling it to us.
Finally, 15 years later, it is a RELIEF to be seeing signs of progress. Great films like "Super Size Me" by Morgan Spurlock, several years ago seemed to kick off a revolution. Now you can pick and choose food revolution movies far and wide. There's "Food Inc.", "Forks Over Knives", "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" , "Hungry for Change", the list goes on and on!
Authors like Michael Pollan and health innovators like Kris Carr have provided us with personalized, historical and political context to help understand how we got here and how to move forward from here. There is really an explosion of awareness going and this makes really excited to see the revolution IS happening and it is going to salvage many from unnecessary suffering. Even better, with more and more plant based eaters, we stand a chance of saving this little ol' lovely planet too! Woo-hoo for planet saving!
And for those of y'all about to bust my chops cause you know I eat the BBQ when I have a layover at the Charlotte Airport, I do not claim to be a vegan! I do eat a "mostly" plant-based diet and love the idea of doing mostly raw-vegan, but I just ain't there quite yet. :)
On that note... Here's a little "Southern Fried Love" to take you into the weekend.
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