Nutritional tradition. A habit that is strengthened with repetition and becomes almost invisible.
Tradition owes its power to repetition. It is customary to pass from one generation to the next what has been passed on to it from the previous one. The more times this sterile process is repeated, the more it becomes established, gains loyal followers, and ends up being officially called a tradition.
Thus, all these things we call traditions and are transmitted as they are and without any review from generation to generation, such as customs, prejudices, religions, but also all these we do not name, but they actually remain traditions, such as, most of the times, the language, the teaching method, the way of political governance, the way of thinking, the way of dressing, and so much more, which in a word we would call habits, are simple repetitions. Living according to the traditions, without ever questioning them, we repeat, and therefore deliver to the next generations, what the previous ones gave us. And that's the problem.
Tradition and progress
It does make sense to consider safe something that has been already tested and, on the contrary, dangerous the new one. But if we settled in the safety of those that have already been tested, we would still be living in caves and communicating by growling.
By definition, tradition is against progress. Progress presupposes change, while tradition forbids it. And if we think about how far in the past each tradition has its roots, at best it should seem funny, if not tragic. And yet the exact opposite happens, the older the source, the more people tend to trust it. It is indeed tragicomic to behave as people did thousands of years ago in completely different societies. People without access to clean water, with uncertain daily meals, with risks from exposure to natural phenomena and wildlife, and with a complete lack of scientific knowledge. People who were trying to understand the, most obvious today, natural phenomena by creating gods. Even ancient Athens, which is considered by many to be the mother of reason, was a society that had gods that created lightnings and storms.
If we followed the tradition faithfully we would still have to sacrifice rams to Zeus and trust fortune tellers in ecstasy who would tell us what to do.
That way, however, society would remain static. The new is needed for a society to move forward and improve. Conflict with our daily habits and traditions. History is full of examples that prove that a society evolves only with change. And of course tradition is against change as this would be its death.
Tradition and critical thinking
It is clear that tradition forbids critical thinking. In fact, its absence is a presupposition. If we think about each tradition, if we look at it with clarity, examine it and judge it, we may even redefine it. Maybe we should change it or even worse stop believing that it is worth perpetuating. But this would also be the tombstone of tradition. And then, what would we do? Who would we be? This would be just the beginning of a domino, the first piece that falls and sweeps everything that stands. We should then start building almost from scratch. Regarding the economy, this is a nightmare. The financially strong would fight for tradition till the end.
Tradition and faith
So what if there is proof or numerous indications that stand up for the opposite of our faith in tradition? Too often our point of view is created by emotional and other irrational factors, and arguments just follow. That is why it is often impossible to convince someone of the opposite of what they believe, especially in terms of their faith and values. Faith is one of the traditions with the strongest foundations, precisely because its first distributor died thousands of years ago. And we are not just talking about religion, but every form of faith. For example, the belief in money. Banknotes are just pieces of paper. We can not eat them or get dressed with them. We can not use them under all circumstances, as they have no inherent value. And yet we believe that money has value. If we stopped believing it, they would lose their value. There are countless examples where in cases of devaluation of a currency, people stop believing that they have value, and do not accept them in transactions, at least at their original value.
That is, when faith in something ceases, its inherent value is lost. In other words, faith gives us value in our own beliefs. It is not a tongue twister. It seems like nonsense because it is.
Should we not follow traditions?
In the past, let alone in the distant past, people did not have a better standard of living than they do today. So how is it possible for us to follow their way of life? Their life expectancy was tragically lower, due to living conditions, which led to increased child mortality, but also mortality of the general population, due to diseases and injuries that are now routinely treated. They were in danger at any given time from the weather and the attacks of wild animals. It is self-evident that they did not have a better quality of life, as they were constantly on the lookout to protect their own lives. That society was completely different from the current one, and we should at least not accept its traditions indiscriminately.
It is really difficult to blow it all up and try to create a new society from scratch, completely free from the prejudices and superstitions of the past. It's easier and more logical to use what we have. To look at them with clarity, to examine them, to weigh them and to decide whether we really agree with them or parts of them, leaving open the possibility of accepting them, modifying them or even rejecting them completely, free from the ghosts of our past.
It is difficult to reconsider everything
It is really difficult to put under the microscope everything that has been delivered to us. The hardest part is finding them. And this difficulty lies in the fact that we, literally, take these traditions for granted. Thus, they become almost transparent and while they are in front of our eyes, it is impossible to see them. For example, it is difficult to get into the process of looking at something that our society takes for granted. Like our diet. The spontaneous reaction of most would be: "I mean, what should I look for?".
It is difficult even to conceive what one takes for granted in order to enter the process of re-examining it.
The nutritional tradition
Let's look at the example of the nutritional tradition. The omnivorous diet is, at least today, clearly the most common type of diet (read here about the different types of diets). Although it is not just one type of diet, but many, as the foods consumed by an omnivore are different from country to country, it has in common that both animal and plant products are consumed. These foods are mainly defined by the culture of each society, ie by its traditions .
For example, an omnivore in China eats insects, which is unthinkable for a Greek, who eats beef, which is unacceptable for an Indian. There are numerous similar examples that make it clear that tradition, i.e., custom, religious belief, and culture and social influences in general, define what an omnivore eats. That is, tradition defines our diet. At least as a starting point.
The question is whether we want to reconsider this tradition. To ask questions such as:
- Why do we eat what we eat?
- Did we consciously choose to eat them or are these just what they fed us with when we were kids?
- Are these foods good for us?
- Are there other foods available that are more beneficial for our body which we do not consume?
- Are animal products necessary, suitable, and safe for our body?
- If animal products are not necessary, appropriate, or even safe for our health, are we willing to change this habit?
Let's answer the above questions, disengaged from tradition. Let's do the research ourselves, from the beginning. It is logical and expected until a certain age to know nothing but tradition. After this age, however, we can search, learn and decide. It is now easy to find published scientific studies online and to make our own decisions.
- Finally, let's ask ourselves: Is the production process of our food compatible with our ethics?
Nutritional tradition and ethics
In order to see if the consumption of animal products and their production processes are compatible with our ethics, it's enough to answer if we agree, for example, with:
1. Grinding live animals (as is the case with male newborn chickens that are considered unprofitable by poultry farms, as they do not lay eggs).
2. Amputating the genitals, ears, and tails of animals without any anesthesia (as happens with pigs to avoid cannibalism due to overcrowding in their breeding units, known as farms. A similar tactic is followed for the beaks of newborn chickens).
3. Boiling animals alive (as with lobsters and snails).
4. To violently overfeeding animals (as with geese, to thicken their livers and be used to produce foie gras).
5. Separating newborns from their mother immediately after birth and then killing them (as is the case in dairy farms, where newborn calves are removed from their mothers to stop breastfeeding, as the so-called "producers" sell it to humans. These calves are then slaughtered, chopped, and sold as veal. In Greece, we call them milk calves, which means they should be breastfeeding.
The above examples are only a taste of the inconceivable abuse animals go through from humans who destine them for food.
Finally, we must ask ourselves whether we agree to consume animal products which has the effect, among other things, of putting us all at risk of various diseases such as swine flu (H1N1), avian influenza (H5N1), coronavirus ( SARS-CoV-2), AIDS, spongiform encephalopathy (mad cows disease), MERS and Ebola. Diseases that can develop into epidemics or even pandemics.
Current nutrition data
But let's look at today's data. Many studies show that a properly studied vegan diet can:
- Be safe, complete and healthy for all ages.
- Prevent and even reverse many serious diseases, such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases and many cancers, such as colon cancer.
- Have side benefits such as:
- The end of the exploitation, abuse and killing of millions of non-human animals every day.
- Increasing the ability to produce more food. In order to feed a certain number of people from animal products, about 10 times more resources (soil, water, feed) are wasted than if the same number of people were fed with plant products.
- The dramatic slowdown in environmental disaster and climate change, as much less natural resources would be used (soil, water, animal feed), but also the atmosphere, soil, water reserves and aquifer would be less polluted and contaminated, if everyone followed a strict plant-based diet (vegan, vegan raw or WFPBD / whole-food plant-based diet - if you want you can read here about the different types of diet).
On the other hand, the omnivorous diet is just a tradition that people continue to follow, while it is proven to be dangerous for our health, due to the consumption of animal products, causing, among other things:
- Various forms of cancer
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Type II diabetes
We must also take into account how much more dangerous for our health is the consumption of animal products that mainly come from animals raised with inappropriate food, but also given antibiotics, the use of which accelerates microbial resistance, with catastrophic consequences for all organisms in the ecosystem. Antibiotics are used as growth factors in animal feed, but they lead to the development of super-resistant germs over time. That is why the European Commission has issued a directive since 2003 to limit their use (Regulation 1831/2003 / EC).
So even though the consumption of animal products is proved to be dangerous for our health and harmful to our natural environment, the food tradition has easily managed to overcome these obstacles and dominate, shown as a one-way street. While with a strictly plant-based diet (vegan, vegan raw or WFPBD / whole-food plant-based diet), not only we protect animals from unnecessary abuse and death, but also protect our health and the planet we live on.
That's all good, but what are we going to eat?
Many believe that those who do not consume animal products eat only lettuce and broccoli. This is a myth and fortunately this cast of mind is changing dramatically and at a very fast pace, as there are vegan recipes for everything.
Like our vegan recipes:
- Greek traditional souvlaki with mushrooms gyros and vegan tzatziki
- Greek vegan pastitsio
- Vegan scrambled tofu (Greek kayanas)
- Vegan Greek moussaka
- Pasta Bolognese with minced soya
- Vegan burger
- Vegan cheese
But also our recipes for vegan desserts such as:
In recent years, more and more companies are creating new vegan products available to the general public through supermarkets and organic stores. Such as vegan yogurts, vegan mayo, vegan pudding, vegan cheese substitutes, vegan milk, vegan cold cuts, vegan sausages, vegan patties, vegan no-meatballs and vegan chicken nuggets.
So, there is no excuse anymore that it's difficult to follow such a diet (vegan, vegan raw or WFPBD / whole-food plant-based diet) because one will have nothing to eat or will be deprived of various delicacies.
Traditions, other than food, concerning animal abuse
But there are many other traditions that include the exploitation, abuse and killing of animals such as:
- Clothing and footwear (e.g. furs, leather clothes and shoes)
- Experimental animals in laboratories (e.g. for testing drugs, cosmetics, cigarettes, but also experiments by psychologists and the military)
- Entertainment (e.g. circuses, zoos, aquariums, bullfights, dog fights)
- Accessories (e.g. leather bags and wallets, bone bracelets, necklaces and earrings)
- Ornamental (e.g. ivory statuettes, wall decorative animal heads)
- Means of transport (e.g. horses, donkeys, elephants and camels)
- Machine substitutes (e.g. in the plow, in the mill)
- Religious practices (e.g. slaughter of turkeys and skewering of lambs at Christian Christmas and Easter respectively)
Like the food tradition, for all these traditions we should, in a similar way, reflect on how we learned them and why we follow them. Have the clarity to identify them, but also the courage to re-examine, accept, adapt or reject them. Examine whether we are morally in agreement with these practices, whether it is necessary to continue them and whether there are alternatives. To realize what is our responsibility for our consumer habits and act accordingly.
Our society, fortunately, is moving forward
Our society does not move forward thanks to traditions, but thanks to some daredevils who saw and acted beyond, but also against them. Let us be the ones who contribute to progress. Let us get rid of the traditions that promote individualism, the exploitation of the weak and injustice. Let us stop the exploitation, abuse and killing of non-human animals. We can do it!