Your diet is the best diet. It’s the healthiest, most environmentally responsible, animal-loving, morally upstanding, heart-friendly, age-defying, or whatever. Fine. We’ll start with that assumption and go from there.
Here’s the deal: whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, locavore, paleo, Raw, CR, or some other niche eating habit, there’s science to prove your way is the right way. And, there’s science to prove your way is the wrong way. Welcome to reality, where things are 1) not that black and white, 2) most nutrition studies are woefully crappy science, and 3) the woefully crappy science is funded by special interests that want the science to say something specific. But most importantly, welcome to the world where 99% of the US population simply doesn’t give a damn.
And there, my friends, is your untapped market.
Start there. Seriously, you’re not going to convert a paleo to veganism by quoting “The China Study” at them, nor are you going to convert a hardcore vegan to paleo using Weston Price. They’ve seen it, they’ve heard it, they’ve chosen another path. Accept it and move on, because all you’re doing is making people tired, annoyed, and uninterested in actually starting *any* kind of better eating because there’s so much confusion and negativity.
However, there is one thing that pretty much any and all of the respected (such as it is) science says, regardless of whether you’re vegan, paleo, or somewhere in between: We should be eating real food, not processed crap. And that is where your personal food agenda can stop blowing smoke up your own self-righteous behind and actually make some kind of difference to…well, to anyone but you.
So, how do you change the world? By trolling blogs and belittling the person on “the other side” of the food spectrum, who in all likelihood has not only heard and seen it all before, but has probably been hearing it and seeing it for years? Does this actually sound like the best tack for recruitment to your personal foodie cause? Because it’s not. I defy anyone to give me one verifiable example where viciously haranguing someone on the opposite end of the eating spectrum with snarky, trolling blog comments and yelled epithets has resulted in a complete 180 in the harangued person’s eating habits. People who honestly want to change the world, not just have something to feel superior about, don’t do that.
Here’s how you change the world: Come back into reality, where the vast majority of the pe0ple in the US are not waffling on whether or not “The China Study” is valid science, or if that bone stock from “Nourishing Traditions” will widen their kid’s palette. The vast, overwhelming majority of people in the US aren’t even close to that kind of nutrition evaluation yet, and won’t be until a whole lot of other things change. Most people are not making the choice between a veggie burger or homemade chicken stock from pastured birds, they’re choosing between Hungry Man dinners or a frozen pizza.
And here’s where we all fail. To the people who haven’t yet drunk our cool-aid, all this irate proselytizing and side-choosing just makes those of us who are eating a healthier diet (whatever it may be) look like over-reactive nutcases who take ourselves way too seriously. It’s too confusing, it’s too much work, and we all look like a bunch of lunatics with a superiority complex. Not exactly a recipe for a popular food movement. How about we stop playing holier-than-thou and criticizing everyone who doesn’t eat the same way we do as uneducated, immoral, or stupid; and, instead, start working together to create an environment where people can learn to eat well and have encouragement and impetus to do so?
Start from the place that all the science agrees on: junk food is bad for you. Stop eating it, and start eating real food. This is something almost every “niche” food lifestyle choice has in common, and it’s a powerful starting point for a movement that could actually make a difference in the US.
We’re not going to get the entire country to switch to whatever lifestyle you believe is best overnight (or frankly, in the next 5-10 years). That is reality, and while you may not like it, you need to learn to live with it. You can’t save every cow or carrot, but you can make a difference in the overall direction of the food lifestyle winds. Whether you believe paleo or veganism is ” The Way,” hopefully you can admit that someone grabbing either a quinoa-bean casserole or a bowl of pastured chicken soup is a HUGE step up from a bag of Doritos and a can of Coke. Can we all just take a step back from our I’m-so-brilliant rhetoric and agree that someone cooking a dinner from scratch, whether it’s tofu stir-fry or meatloaf, is almost certainly better than taking the family to Taco Bell?
How about we focus on teaching people how to read labels and use fresh, whole ingredients to make real foods? How about we push to stop feeding our kids a third-cup of sugar for in-school breakfasts? How about we educate our population about the dangers of various preservatives and simple carbohydrates? How about we’re honest about obesity and the risks obese individuals face? How about we support ways to make whole foods more readily available to our population that fast and junk foods?
Once our population has the tools to even comprehend what the hell we’re saying, or to care, when we talk about GMO foods, carbon footprints, sprouting grains, pastured animals, complete vegetarian proteins, or who Mr. Price and Mr. Campbell are–then we cab resume the argument over which micro-managed food lifestyle is “the best.”
Eat what you choose to eat, eat what you choose to love, and help others learn about nutrition through respect, education, and outreach. We’ll all get a lot farther in our road to a better food reality a lot faster if we work together from a civil, rational common ground.