Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. (Zen saying)
One thing I have noticed in the transition to a Whole Foods, Plant-Based lifestyle, is that food preparation becomes more important if you’re eating more plants. Food Preparation and cooking have become a soul craft and a meditative experience. Interestingly, when my girlfriend and I compared notes about our favorite moments of 2017, they were both in the kitchen. Hers was when we cut up a 60 lb jackfruit together and froze most of it, spontaneously working in perfect sync. Mine was when we were peeling some fresh beans together spontaneously after I brought them home from the local green market. I had been sitting in the kitchen peeling the beans and she saw me and joined in the fun.
I often feel like I think by working with my hands, and moreover, I notice that many people do. Writing by hand is very effective in the process of studying, more so than typing notes. It’s that manual process and it seems to be a proven fact that it helps in internalizing the material. That realization leads me to always be writing long hand some of the time, no matter how proficient I might be on the keyboard. Long hand writing has a very important creative function. Also, more in general, working with your hands has a very important role to play, as is reflected in the work of Matthew Crawford, which he reported on in his best-selling book .
Matthew Crawford TED talk
How busy hands can alter our brain chemistry
Even at the busiest times in my life, cooking was always a favorite activity, and for twenty years I was married to a woman who could barely boil water, so that was a great motivation. I ran the kitchen, while she volunteered for clean-up detail.
Presently, however, my food preparation is becoming both more professional and more fun. For one thing, my current kitchen is probably 1/3rd the size of what I was used to and space efficiency counts. But, I also teach classes now.
Lately, I have been on a tour of new appreciation of simple kitchen tools. For one thing, lots of gadgets are unnecessary if you keep a good set of knives. Also, I am finding out that sharpening knives is particularly satisfying if you learn to do it properly with whetstones. These days, I am finding out that cutting up veggies with a super sharp knife is immensely satisfying, beginning with cutting up an onion without tearing. It becomes a really enjoyable craft.
The dime sort of dropped for me, when CBS Sunday Morning recently aired a piece on how that satisfaction in manual work can work wonders for you: How busy hands can alter our brain chemistry. Suddenly, it all made sense.
Food addiction and conditioning
We are starting to understand a lot about food addiction and how we are conditioning even young kids with dairy and sugar to become addicts later in life. We now know from Dr. Neal Barnard’s book The Cheese Trap, how cheese is naturally addictive. But in the packaged food and fast food business, foods are routinely engineered consciously or sometimes unwittingly for addictive properties, all in the pursuit of higher sales. It all results in a permanent state of nutritional deprivation which is the perfect setup for addictions of all sorts later in life. Often times the addictions start via the medical route. Fortunately these days there is growing awareness in the nutritional field that nutrition has a lot to do with breaking addiction. One program that is working in this area is Dr. Keith Kantor‘s N.A.M.E.D. program, which boast vastly improved recovery and significantly lower relapse rates in treatment of many addictions.
Sometimes consciously and sometimes unwittingly, the industrial medical complex is the perfect enabler of this type of malnutrition and nutritional deprivation, for it will sell you the drugs that allow you NOT to ever address your bad nutritional condition you are in. Thus starts the vicious circle that leads to drugs and ever more drugs, and eventually to chronic illnesses which makes you the drug industry’s favorite milking cow. The diabetes pandemic is pharmageddon’s best friend, and so is the cardiovascular disease complex, starting with baby aspirin, viagra, blood pressure medicines and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Each and every step gets you deeper into drug dependency and allows the disease to progress in the meantime, thus insuring that you will keep coming back.
Nutritional uprising: Whole Foods, Plant-Based diets
Currently, the Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutritional revolution is becoming almost a popular uprising against the industrialization of food, which sacrificed convenience for nutrition. In one fell swoop it is also eliminating the use of supplements and prescription drugs, as well as over the counter drugs. Plus on the whole, this new enjoyment restores the natural high that comes from great food, and from simply feeling healthy – which beats the alternative.
I recently wrote about the iThrive program, which is organized by a lay person, Jon McMahon, who is himself recovering from food addiction, diabetes and morbid obesity.
The stories abound. In a way it all started with Dr. Esselstyn and his original group of heart patients who had all been given less than a year to live by their ‘expert cardiologists,’ as Esselstyn refers to them, all the while taking plenty of medications. Of the eighteen, one strayed and died, but the other seventeen were still alive twenty years later, having dropped their meds, and adopted a healthy diet instead. Of course, as Esselstyn and others have pointed out, ED is just the canary in the coal mine of Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD), and prescribing Viagra is a way of suppressing the symptoms, and allowing the disease to progress unfettered, because the cause, bad diet, is never addressed. The same can be said for baby aspirin, statins, and blood pressure medications. Suppressing the symptoms in the short run makes for repeat customers later on. The population is now starting to rebel, however. Better food is something you can do yourself.
With Jon McMahon and iThrive it is the turn of the diabetics. The standard medical protocol means an average life expectancy of ten years less than of non-diabetics, and a living hell of medications and medical interventions at tremendous. Of course there had been many doctors active in this area, such as Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard and others. But iThrive is making it into a popular movement, and again the stories abound of people dropping hands full of medicines. If you look at the FaceBook group for iThrive, there are regular stories of diabetics getting off of insulin sometimes in a month or less, and in other cases it may take a little longer, and many drop all medicines soon after that. These were the drug industry’s best customers, who are now getting their get out of jail free card, courtesy of the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet.
Dr. Saray Stancic is adding Multiple Sclerosis (MS) to the #WFPB vocabulary as well and again, patient are dropping hands full of meds and reversing an incurable disease.
Well-being, being well and Healthy Living
It is all coming together now that health and well-being are a decision one must make. On the one hand, it is true that seven out of ten out of the leading causes of death can be prevented or reversed by changing to a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet. This change will tend to increase life expectancy, but more importantly a better overall health will make us more resilient. A better functioning immune system will help us resist a lot of diseases, or if we do have an illness, recover faster. Sports figures are reporting in growing numbers that the Plant-Based, Whole Foods diet helps them recover from injuries quicker.
Chop wood, carry water
In the end, cooking and food prep becomes an almost meditative practice and a welcome balance to all the running around we do in our lives. In and of itself the act of cooking is therapeutic, and specifically focusing on the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet becomes a wonderful example of day to day handiwork that becomes an almost meditative practice and in and of itself a healing process.
The pharmaceutical industry has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in making legal drug dealers out of doctors, but the patients are now rebelling to the disguised death sentence of this type of medicine and choosing a healthy lifestyle instead. The answer to the healthcare crisis lies here.