Suggested Read

It is a healthy practice throughout the journey to occasionally stop and reconsider where you’ve been, how you reached your conclusions, reevaluate where you are going and ask yourself whether that direction continues to help you to reach your goals. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend the book Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The book is well written and Pollan makes excellent points across the wide span of this particular spectrum. Pollan fully examines the familiarities surrounding food: cruelty to animals, the decline of human health, environmental destruction of factory farming etc. Pollan discusses the evolution of humans and the food species historically consumed by humankind. He takes readers through the modern industry and provides compelling pros and cons about various movements including organic. Pollan even expounds on possible reasons why the modern vegan ideal may not be feasible for everyone. This reminded me that people generally have entirely the wrong idea about veg folk. There is so much more to whole-foods plant-based diets than eating tofu. Some of us don’t even like it. Others eat it only rarely. We are diverse “people of character” -Dr. McDougall and we are continually evolving. It’s onto the next universe ( we know there are multiple ones btw,) so by the time you print up the labels to tack on our foreheads we’re already three universes yonder. There is room here for exploration, discovery, growth and expansion.

Still, on my own journey I have heard this book referred to as a classic and I have to say that I agree. Even though I may not agree on all the points he made, I like it because this book does just that; it stops and asks everyone wherever you are currently on the food spectrum to reconsider what’s on your plate. In addition, the author points out that movements such as small-scale farming, small businesses and local are worthy of everyone’s support all across the spectrum. As emphasized in my writings, (Life Is Conscious, Eyes on the Prize), it asks everyone to meet in the middle. But regardless of locale on the spectrum, even the polar opposites, it becomes clearer that factory farming is one of the biggest parts of the problem. Pollan points out that there is no going back; humanity cannot return to its hunter/gatherer lifestyle-for better or for worse. Pollan skillfully arrives at this conclusion. You will need to read the book to discover the details.

The point is made that dietary taboos are nearly as plentiful as sexual ones. The very word omnivore can imply that anything goes. It’s interesting that many world religions contain instructions, guides, even prohibitions, about eating meat, including Judeo-Christian, Islam and Buddhism (Lent, abstaining from pork, Kosher, LDS Word of Wisdom “eat meat sparingly,”(Doctrine and Covenants), etc, implying some form of restraint or omission there. As natural omnivores, perhaps saying no to some things is a sacred act. After all, maybe the anything, anytime anyone-always can lead to excess; perhaps there needs to be self-control at some point. Said another way, there is wisdom in the practice of self discipline, sobriety and temperance, or saying no or sparingly. Thebeauty of this is that you get to do this at your own pace and in your own way.

Pollan makes a strong case that is difficult to disregard about the multiple benefits of private, family owned farms with happy, free range animals while they are living, as opposed to the horrors committed on animals also while living, and the extreme environmental detriment of mass factory farming.

I understand that being a strict veg is not for everyone. Plus, animals that are happy in the sun, doing what they are designed by nature to do is a positive thing; being given the happiness and “respect they deserve” while living, with a reverence for life when they are killed for food is a step forward and I was glad to see that the author made this point. I certainly won’t argue there.

The part about shooting a wild pig admittedly was not my favorite part. As a veg who discontinued hunting in late childhood/early adolescence and having no plans to start again- pas pour moi (not for me), this stood out to me. It is interesting that the author skillfully illustrates a vivid description of reverence and intense gratitude in that moment, and something like mixed emotions later. It is noteworthy that I have felt this exact intensity of gratitude when harvesting Yukon Gold potatoes, green beans, peas, tomatoes and potatoes that I organically grew myself, except without the mixed emotions later on.

However, I can appreciate the skill in asking everyone on the broad spectrum of human omnivory to reconsider and stretch outside one’s comfort zone some. Whether this is for your own health, the animals or to benefit the environment, I suggest this thought provoking book as a starter for your renewal and your regular, healthy “reconsideration of everything”.

As for this veg, I don’t think the universe that we refer to is quite infinite. That one over there might be, however. See it?

Enjoy the exploration!



Would you workout in a casino?
Okay you pegged me; it’s a trick question because if you live in Utah you breathe its casino air everyday.

I can count on one hand the number of days per year that I ride my bike because the air is too polluted.

It’s curious as to why there is still any debate regarding the regulation of environmental pollution. As an attempt to eliminate the dangers of second hand smoke in public, how can cigarette smoking be banned from restaurants and public buildings to improve what was a Public Health concern twenty years ago in the name of progress, but we’re struggling now to control the severity of air pollution in Utah? Utah, where there is a casino-like air quality on a daily basis, this should be a top priority. Nobody has reason to be arrogant or to continue the denial here. Polluted air affects everyone.

Just last week I was thinking about the steps in mindfulness and in doing my best to be a wise steward that I personally take to reduce environmental degradation. Shoot, by choice, I eat a plant-based diet, and I have consolidated my driving to three days per week. But individual efforts are one thing when gigantic corportions with short-sighted goals are another topic. If industries and even large corportions were to put in a fraction of this effort, that would hugely change things for the better. Just imagine if gigantic industries/corporations were to sacrifice just a small percentage of profits to allocate to cleaner standards. This would be huge, awesome. They would be leaders and each giant that did this would reduce a lot of pollution.

Industry is designed to maximize profits; that is, on steroids, and too often this is at the expense of everything and everyone else-very one sided. Thus the need for regulation right, since the greed would grow out of control. Industry (and the historical human for that matter) doesn’t have the best track record of regulating itself/ourselves. The current model of perpetual growth is part of the problem and ensures that there can never be enough profits for giants; this further perpetuates the cycle of decline. They stomp out everything and everyone else. This is not only an environmental, but a social problem too.

Look, I get that not everyone is a naturalist, or has enough time or energy to be highly concerned about the environment. I get that. However, I do believe that most people care about nature to at least some degree. But in all fairness, people are busy with lives, jobs, families, relationships, the need for fun, and life is hectic. Shoot, I think we all have enough on our plates these days, especially these last two years. Not everyone is a biologist or ecologist and has time or energy to put into stopping to consider and research just how each step they take will impact the environment. This is all the more reason why the regulation of certain industries is essential. Not everyone can stop to think each time they are waiting in line about shutting off their idling car, or remembers to bring their reuseable grocery bags made of cloth instead of plastic.

If Biden (I say Biden not only as the current president, but because Republicans don’t have a good track record for correcting environmental problems or being particularly concerned about them, or even admitting that they exist,) were to implement incentives to reduce fossil fuels, half the nation would throw a fit. We already know how this conversation would go. Extremists would be yelling conspiracy and that our freedoms are being taken away. Yet, incentives toward, or even requirements for catalytic converters on small engines, solar, electric cars or even natural gas (less polluting) would go far and the average citizen operating a motor vehicle would hardly feel it. The impact would hardly be noticed on an individual level. It wouldn’t make your car any less “zippy”, stylish, lacking in horsepower, or your lawnmower any less efficient. Your vehicle would hardly notice the difference. But the environment would improve tremendously with a change this broad.

It is unacceptable that gigantic industries own the day and are permitted to run amuck, not doing their fair share to reduce pollution all to maximize profits. Yet, this is at the expense of everything else. This level of greed is criminal.

Another biggie is plastic. The same would be for a ban on plastic bags and implementation of more natural materials instead. Measures that would hardly be noticed on an individual level and yet would make a tremendous (in the positive) difference nationally/globally. (Like it or not, with twenty years of the world wide web, it is now a global world). If Biden were to require regulation in plastic production so that for most applications, (especially something as widely used as grocery bags and bottles) plastic is replaced by material using coconut, rice husk or other natural materials; (they do exist; I have planters made from these). This would help tremendously.

The ripple effect of healthy (or unhealthy) oceans and forests don’t need to be spelled out. But I find that people generally need to hear that these do affect us. And they do. Yet, part of the problem is, (in all fairness and due respect), that not all people have time, energy or resources to find these details.

Some of the rules of this LIC/WD philosophy are meeting others halfway and giving credit where credit is due. Not everyone should be expected to spend all their time and energy here. That’s why environmental improvement measures that are hardly felt on the individual level but make tremendous change nationally/globally should be the top priority. Personally, I am glad when I meet someone who is in a position to perform a valuable service to humanity or nature where I may lack in time or practice. “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

The idea that people are the only living things that matter is an outdated viewpoint. “Dominion” from the Old Testament has been a problematic word in our perceptions of it. I can’t believe we still need to have this discussion in 2022. Diversity is the answer. Other beings (and other people too) are allowed and encouraged to thrive also and their thriving also helps you to thrive too; like it or not and maybe you’ll need to humble yourself a bit here, this is the case.

Feeling pressure or shame about having to drive is not something that should be added to your plate. The average person already has enough going. Transportation should not be this destructive. Something is wrong with this picture. Technology makes other forms of power available. But the current reality is that industry owns the day.

I am registered as unaffiliated, but this is what I do like about the Democratic party. The largest industries are regulated and required to carry their share, both in environmentally sound practices and in taxes. Helping other people and even nature to thrive also is a Democratic principle that I like; it certainly hasn’t been a Republican one. Biden seems to be making some positive changes for nature (and people too, it’s not mutually exclusive). I’m glad to see this.

People hear about ecologists or biologists being concerned about a certain bird or field mouse and this gets a lot of heat, thought of as frivolous and nonsensical. What some may not realize is that while this may not be the be-all, end all, we see these as indicators, symptoms of a greater systemic problem. These are pointing to unhealthy ecological communities, ecosystems and a troubled earth. Many of these natural systems are in danger of collapse. This matters; all of these affect us, like it or not. I don’t need to go into the details of the reasons for this. Air pollution is just one aspect already severe in Utah alone and now it’s going to get worse. Species in their varieties are another issue, but one that still impacts us. Many of them perform a valuable service to humanity. Nature will do this when we let it. That is the beauty of it. Like it or not, we are part of nature, not separate from it, and certainly not above it. It performs these services naturally, just doing what those plants, animals and fungi do. Don’t fool yourself or live in perpetual denial. These changes to the climate on earth absolutely affect us.

The fact that we’re still having this conversation and that policies are being debated and antagonized in 2022 about whether or not giagantic industries should have to be required to extend the least possible effort in reducing environmental problems is just foolish. It represents a major disconnect. It’s concerning, actually. What if industries were to voluntarily reduce their impact and thus do away with the need to be regulated? Reaching a point of actually being satisfied and ceasing constant exponential growth? Wow, there we go; imagine that! Now that is real change, an idea that works and not only one that works, but there would be a leader of a gigantic industry that would be willing to forego what is essentially pocket change to provide a service to fellow beings, humans and nature. Now that would be a good move, real change.

Yet, here we are…


Related writings:
Snow. Melt. Blow.
January Rain
Are You Loving the Snow?

Judgement or Assessment?

It is intriguing to consider the differences between an assessment as opposed to a judgement. These are probably an aspect of human nature, a defense mechanism to make a brief assessment about a situation or person, a way of organizing and to navigate the world securely. This making an assessment is fine.

But judgement is different. Judgement tends to be more final; it is a form of labeled compartmentalization. It is sort of like packing up an item, putting it in a box, labeling it, wrapping it with a bow. If it is about another person, this sort of compartmentalization is finalizing, closed. This puts the person in a box; it is an assumption. Assumptions are less effective. There is a general tendency to also put God in a box.

This boxing and labeling is the opposite of one of the rules to effective learning and healthy growth, a state of receptivity. In the book The Power of Intention by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, receptivity has its own specific section in the book. Kudos to Dr. Dyer since receptivity is an excellent addition and such an integral key to growth and awakening. Judgement is arrogant. It isn’t flexible. It doesn’t cultivate the kind of human goodness that believes people can and do change for the better, and that some people really are proactively trying to do so. Part of the human experience is (or should be) the allowance of all people to do just that.

You’ll see as I did that finalizing especially in regards to another individual is usually not ours to do. We never know or understand that person’s complete situation, even though in a quick reasoning or snap judgement it is often assumed that we do; but we don’t. This is why continuing on assumptions is less effective. They are halting, confining instead of flexible and receptive.

There are ways of overcoming this troublesome habit. For example, instead of being threatened by another’s different views, ways or beliefs, you can think of these merely as a perspective that you may not have considered; yet, it is still your choice to accept their view fully and integrate it into your life, or not. You can also choose to respect others with that belief or viewpoint, accepting that it is more than true to them; it is their reality. This is respectful and not arrogant, condescending or haughty.

As far as I understand correctly psychology offers some clues as the Fundamental Attribution Theory: The human tendency to take that one snapshot of another person or situation and run with it, assuming understanding is full and complete. But it is just one snapshot, that moment or situation in which that person was observed.

So brief assessments for a given situation, yes, fine, but judgements and assumptions no. It is essential to be mindful (Buddhist term) of the difference and to briefly assess people and situations, but not label them as forever done for finalization. In short, assessments are not only open, but respectful and humble, (accepting the fact that none of us “ever know the full truth of another)”[I]. Assessments from a state of receptive flow is ideal because the self-correcting nature of humility is naturally part of this state. Instead of a labeled box, it is like a small fountain; still human-made but designed for a purpose, with intent to foster understanding. It’s all about the intent. In essence, we are going with this level of understanding at least temporarily, but it is allowed to move and flow until “we know more because right now we certainly don’t see the whole picture”. The reason religions of the world emphasize the practice of humility is that there is wisdom in doing in it. Even if you are not religious, you can still benefit from the practice of humility, (which nearly all humans need to do, as much as proper diet and exercise).

Whereas judgements, assumptions are arrogant and self-righteous. If you think about it, judgement is really quite high and mighty because it says “even if I had your life I could do it better than you!”
What’s your point? You’d have to trace that individual’s life back to their moment of birth. Only then would you fully understand and if you fully understood you wouldn’t be judging. You would know that you are certainly not in a position to do so. You just took a short cut on how to become the Almighty. If so, please share with me how you did it.

So to the journey of all and the acceptance that everyone is on their own spot in their journey. The combinations are endless, so there is no need to compete or compare. Insead of viewing growth and progression in a flattened dimension with only up or down, it can be multi-dimensional, expansive, like the universe, endless potential, not fully understood.

Thus the importance of learning healthy, effective communication. There is nothing to stress about in that regard since we are all learning and nobody is on the exact same path with the same circumstances.

Related writings:
A Respectful Request

Hayden, J. (2019). Health behavior theory (3rd ed.).