What On Earth Are We Eating?

During a retreat at Esalen Institute Alan Watts was asked what type of diet he followed. Since he was a philosopher of eastern thought and a man of wisdom, some guessed, perhaps it might be a macrobiotic or vegetarian diet. His reply was. “I only eat three kinds of foods; the gourmet cooking of the French, Chinese and Japanese.” Who knew? 

To have clear and accurate communication with each other, it is important to understand the definitions and the correct usage of words. For example in Italian, pesca means peach, and pesce means fish. In Rome, I once ordered pesce gelato.   

What about the words: meat eater, carnivore, herbivore, folivore, omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan as they relate to the world of what we choose to eat and wear? 

 In the world of food we all seem pretty clear about herbavore and carnivore (plant eater and meat eater). Carnivores are critters like tyranasaurus rex, lions, tigers and ardvaarks. Herbavores are critters like brontosaurus, antelope, deer, koala bears, rabbits, and guanacos. 

There are also omnivores that eat whatever is available so that they may survive. Omnivores eat foods from any source. A bear might eat berries and salmon, or a bird might eat fruits and insects. A human might forage at a local buffet. Humans, who have omnivore teeth, were once hunters and gatherers before the agrarian and industrial eras. 

If you already know this stuff please bear (no pun intended) with me. 

The most confusion about words seems to dwell with what humans are now eating: Are you a vegan, vegetarian, etc.? 

A vegetarian’s diet could consist of vegetables, seaweed, roots, legumes, seeds, grains, nuts, and fruits prepared in imaginative ways. 

A meat eater’s diet could consist of creatures such as cows, sheep, goats, deer, pigs, or chicken, hens, and pheasants. Then there is seafood from tuna and squid to crabs and clams all prepared in imaginative ways. 

If you eat any kind of animal, you are a carnivore (or an omnivore), not a vegetarian as some may think. 

If you eat, as I do, plants then you are a vegetarian. However, I also eat dairy and eggs. I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian. 

If I only ate plants and nothing that is derived from animals, such as honey, bee pollen, dairy, and eggs, than I would be a vegan. 

Most vegans also, do not choose to wear or use anything that is derived from animals such as silk, leather, feathers (down), and furs. 

Bees and butterflies only live on nectar and provide the service of pollination as a gift. Unfortunately, we humans can’t do this. 

 Which category do you fall into? All of this is making me very hungry.

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