VeganMofo 3: Mostly Raw Lunch

I've been trying to eat more raw food lately. I'm not going to get all crazy about it and start talking about live food, but I know it's generally healthier so why not try to incorporate? Here's a lunch I took to work last week. I had the apple and a few pine nuts for midmorning snack. For lunch I made a little wrap out of the spinach tortilla and the tomato, avocado, and lime. The celery was afternoon snack, along with the peanut butter that lives on my desk.

In addition to being healthy, I really like the simplicity of eating this way. I know raw food can get really fancy and complicated with all kinds of obscure ingredients and elaborate dehydrator techniques, but it can also be about finding fresh things and just eating them.

For me, the major drawback is that I think it would be nigh on impossible to eat both raw and local. Since the beginning of the summer, 90% of my produce has come from my amazing CSA. In the summer and early fall I'd be able to keep afloat on berries, peaches, tomatoes, apples, peppers, and grapes. We're coming up on the season, however, when I'd be stuck chomping on raw sweet potatoes for a good bit of the time.

Eating local food is important to me. It's more important to me than whatever health benefits might derive from eating raw. I had a great conversation last night with my roommate, John, and then later with a few other friends, about the need to apply what John called "a discerning mind" to religious and ethical choices. Every set of beliefs or principles is going to leave one with competing interests, from time to time, and it's necessary for a person to be able to practice awareness and choose the best course of action, weighing those interests.

About a month ago, my mom, who is a dean at the law school here, gave my contact information to one of the new law students. She was new in town and having trouble finding vegetarian options. My mom enthusiastically told her that her daughter is vegan and loves food and loves to cook. I was, of course, happy to help out. Once I started exchanging e-mails with this student, however, I realized she was one of those vegetarians that makes people hate vegetarians. She complained that she was from another part of the country and had never had any trouble with eating vegetarian there, but that here in Arkansas the a restaurant wouldn't even change out the oil to make her eggplant parmesan free from meat particles! I've had friends who are Jain, and while I don't know whether this student is, I understand ahimsa and the desire to keep your food free from any particle that would contaminate it with violence. As John pointed out, however, asking a restaurant to throw out perfectly good oil to accomodate one person's preference is a huge waste, and waste is a form of violence. This person seemed to be applying an ethical principle without approaching the situation holistically and discerning the best course of action.

I feel the same way about eating raw. Of course I care about my body, and there are great benefits to adopting a raw diet. For me, the benefits of eating local, sustainable food far outweigh those. For now, it's an occasional treat and a way of simplifying my lunch-packing process.

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