Everyone Is Right. (Even Raw Vegans.)

The match lasted 90 minutes.  It was mostly a mental one counting bars of rest, and managing all dynamics between pppp and ffff. For about 90 minutes last night I navigated Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with 4 other percussionists in the South Shore Symphony Orchestra.

We had an absolute blast.  (If you want to check it out, click THIS.)

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As we set up for the performance, I spotted white, gray, silvery hair flowing down the center aisle of St. Agnes Cathedral.  I could recognize it anywhere.  It wasn’t Dumbledore, nor Gandalf.  No, it was my first piano teacher, Paul Joseph.

I started taking piano lessons with Paul when I was a wee little lad, perhaps 2nd grade.  At the time, I knew it was important, I knew that I had to do it, and that promptly made me despise it.  During a short intermission at the concert, I was able to talk with Paul and quickly catch up on light.  I excitedly told him about my world at MFF, and that’s when it began.

The preaching.

Ironic, because we were in a church, right?  It started with, “Ya know, can I tell you the most important thing about diet?”  I’ve found that conversations never go that well when they start this way.

Paul began telling me about how a raw vegan diet is the most important diet ever.  He said that he never gets sick anymore.  He said that he has so much for energy than he has.  He said that he feels incredible.  I excitedly nodded.  He was right about all of it!

And why shouldn’t he be?  After all, this was his body.  This was his Journey.  He found a diet that made him feel better than he has in the past.  That’s what it’s all about.

During our conversation I had to fight my immediate contrarian urge to say, “Well, actually…”  I wanted to correct any possible transgression against dietary best practices.  I thought against it.  When Paul said, “I eat a variety of foods, a rainbow of colors…” it made me realize that we all agree about the same thing.

We want to be happier.

If we consider the big rock picture, I’m not sure that arguing over the essential amount of protein intake to maximize results is going to have the impact of eating more leafy greens.  I’m not sure that tallying up your iron intake for the day is going to matter if the mouth texture of iron sources horrifies you.  For example, if you hate steak, eat spinach.  If spinach isn’t your thing, steak it up.

I’d venture that I’d agree with 90% of what Paul said to me about his raw vegan diet, and I’d probably agree with the overall message even more than that.  Eat more vegetables.  We get it.

An edible rainbow of nummy fruits and vegetables

Do we do it?  That’s another story.  Doing it is about appreciating the behaviors that can be done regularly until they’re habits.  Screaming, “Eat more vegetables!” is a surefire way to ensure that we’re not eating more vegetables, just as so many of us told to practice the piano weren’t able to do so.  We were told to do it.  There wasn’t any joy in that.

There’s joy in finding the things that make us feel better, that make us feel happier.  There’s less joy, or the anticipating for joy, when we’re going through the learning process.  Learning this is part of growing up, but I’m not sure it happens when we’re in 2nd grade.

Let’s look at a BBC article from this morning, that suggests that, “Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two.”  They served globe artichokes, either plain, with sugar, or vegetable oil, and found that “Even fussy eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times.”

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I find “fussy eaters” to be an interesting term.  What qualifies a fussy eater?  Are we looking at their disposition, or what foods they’ve been exposed to in the past?  (Artichoke was used because it wasn’t as common.)  I’m no expert on diet or child development, but it would make sense that the foods we eat become the foods we want to eat more of.  If you’re eating lots of vegetables, you’ll want to eat more vegetables.  Throw some sweets into the mix, and visions of sugar plums will dance through your head.

I’m not sure if we’re naturally fussy eaters, or if fussy is a learned behavior based on what we’ve been exposed to.  If that’s the case, expose yourself to more vegetables.  Expose your friends to more vegetables, explore your kids to more vegetables, become the biggest vegetable whore you possibly can.

Just as we can learn that the number of exposures to new food is an indicator that some infants will take to them more, we learn as adults by having multiple exposures to new things.  When we’re training, we talk about graded exposure to more weight or volume.  When we’re eating, it’s about trying new foods.

All of the nutrition advice in the world mostly agrees on one thing, and that’s the universal kick-assery of vegetables.  It’s hard to find specific recommendations, outside of clinical recommendations or dogma, that recommend against specific plant foods.  For the most part, we’re talking about eating them, and we’re all talking about being happier.

happy

I’m not an advocate of the raw vegan diet.  I’m more of an advocate of eating all the plants you want to support nutrient goals, along with appropriate amounts of animal products.  Paul wasn’t converting me on a new diet; he was converting me on a feeling.  He was telling me about something that’s made him feel incredible, and something that he wanted to share.  Even if we don’t agree on something 100%, that’s something we can all learn from.

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