Ethical Eating vs. Eating for Health

Adrienne Falcone Godsell | The Food Whisperer LLC | KNOW Tampa

I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague tonight. It was about the choice of eating a plant-based lifestyle and whether people will stick with it more for ethical reasons or for health reasons. I was first introduced to plant-based eating as a moral/religious choice when I was a child. We had neighbors from India who were Hindu. Believing in reincarnation and the caste system, they did not consume animal products for the belief that it could be someone they knew in a former life. To this day, I appreciate my parents and their open mindedness/acceptance to different beliefs and sharing that with me and my sister. I contribute my acceptance of different food choices people make to my parents and for me, I believe, it has assisted me in my culinary endeavors. I learned the whole food meal prep plays in health 25 years ago,  first as a way to make my ‘niche’ in the culinary world (and to pay the bills) and then finding my soul contract in the holistic culinary world.

The predominant theme that comes up on a regular basis, in the natural food world, the culinary world, and in the medical field is plant-based eating. Now, in technical terms, even in the world of raw foods, plant-based eating may be defined as 80% plant based and/or raw. I will, by my own terminology, say 98% of raw foodies out there are plant based, and I am open to being corrected by that at any given time. Ethically and medically speaking, I am sure one would recommend 100% plant based, and here is where my topic begins –  Will one turn to plant based eating and stick with it more due to ethical reasons or for health reasons?

I was called out on the subject of plant-based eating today in conversation today. Why do you eat animal products and yet promote plant-based eating? Well, I consider myself  a plant-based eater in the fact that I am 80% plant based. That being said, my answer was “I am too lazy at this point in my life to be 100% plant based.”  I am aware of the benefits of plant-based eating, and if faced with a life changing health issue, I would go 100%, but with my family right now. I cannot commit to it. I am a seasonal raw eater. As it gets to the cooling seasons, Fall and Winter, I notice my body needs ‘warming foods’ TCM speaking. I know that benefits of raw foods – enzymes, pH balance, active nutrition, yet my body tells me when it is time to have something softer in my system. But back to the ethical vs. health question. Why consume another mammal’s milk whether it is to drink it or as cheese or any other condiment? You are taking away the mammal’s baby’s food. Conventionally speaking, yes, we probably are. Organically speaking, we are not. The babies are weaned. And, back in the day, and probably still today in many cultures including our own, one mammal is kept for milk purposes whereas the Mama mammal is kept with her babies until they are all grown and ready to feed off the land. Similar to how livestock and poultry are raised conventionally vs. organically. I am not going to get into horror stories, you can watch them on your own if you choose to ( Food Inc., Forks over Knives, etc.), and they are true. And so is the truth about how too much protein, especially animal protein can destroy your health, from a medical standpoint. And it can also be proven that too much refined soy product can damage your health. And then you can get into raising GMO produce and how it is destroying the earth.

Where do you start and where do you stop? Where is your standpoint on how you eat? Why are you at where you are at? Does what you eat make a difference in your life? Does where the food you eat come from make a difference in your food choices? Does how the animal product is raised factor into your mind when choosing what you are buying and consuming? There is scientific proof that the hormones and antibiotics consumed by/released from the livestock/poultry is passed onto us when we consume it. That includes the cortisol, growth hormones (which of course are not being used anymore) and the insulin,  Does how the produce is sourced from/being grown (GMO, Non-GMO, vaccines in the produce), that you consume enter your thoughts when purchasing? How about the bottom line that what you are eating makes all the difference in the world for your quality of life? 

See the point was brought up to me that more people fall off the plant-based eating protocol wagon if it is for health reasons vs. for ethical reasons. Well, from a culinary standpoint, I have known a vegan who enjoyed making all types of food, including steaks and fish, just because it is what people enjoyed. The person would not taste it or consume the product, but it was for others to enjoy. When asked why I would feed my children (albeit organic) cheese even though I choose to be dairy free,  my answer is it is a treat, not something they consume pounds of on a daily basis. And what about all the plant-based eaters out in the world that continue to consume ‘fake’ animal products ( Tofurkey, Beyond Meat, ‘eggless’ salad), yet preach the evils of animal product consumption? In my head, meat substitutes are just as bad for you as regular processed foods. I think, if one chooses to eat a certain way, for whatever that reason is, it is just like any other choice we make in our lives. If we choose to stop smoking and start again, or go on a diet and regain weight, or  to exercise and stop, this is our personal decision, and we learn from it.

To me, it is a matter of self-discipline and how you are able to manage your life. Growing up around food, I was blessed with being able to have an educated, and discerning palate. We had to eat what was served to us. I like to believe that I am carrying that on with my children ( I think). Moderation and education are the key here in my formula. I know plenty of people who don’t care how livestock is being raised as long as it tastes good on their plate. But when faced with health issues, people then choose  to change their eating habits, even if it is only to consume organic. Yet it is a beginning. Because when you feel better from such a little change, bigger benefits are around the corner. And then so are the next changes that happen.

Lynne Kimmich

More About Adrienne

Chef Adrienne Falcone-Godsell is a classically trained chef and the owner of The Food Whisperer, LLC. Over the past twenty-five years, I have built a business that focuses on how food can assist us in healing and supporting our health. In addition to my work as a holistic personal chef and corporate lunch and learn presenter, I have authored two cookbooks and begun my journey as a television chef on Bloom Tampa Bay. I recently recorded two sets of Master Class recorded cooking lessons – Eating with Adrienne – which show learners that their food can be flavorful, nutritious, and unintimidating at the same time. I am currently working on creating a cooking lesson subscription service.