Year for a Planet is a personal challenge to be a better human for the planet for a whole year. This year, 2017, is where I deal with my food choices.
“Eat for the Planet, Get Hotter, Live Longer”…is hopefully not the title of the book I wish to write about this project in the future. But in the course of this project, vanity and longevity have been the most efficient reasons to get people in a constructive discussion about sustainable eating. The only things people were interested in is how I lost a lot of weight unintentionally and how I have so much energy all the time. While I feel satisfied at finding a way—any way—to get people to consider changing their behavior, I also can’t help but feeling a tiny bit disgusted at humanity.
Why is it that people generally don’t give a hoot about the environment and care more about how they look in their Facebook photos? Vanity seems to be the primitive need that needs to be stoked because I realize that no matter where I was in the world this year, I kept meeting people who were dreadfully unhappy and unsatisfied, be it in their work, their relationships, or themselves. However, so used were they to their suffering that they were scared to try anything else. And so they numbed themselves with eating crap that made them feel even worse and locked them into the negative feedback loops they were in. The easiest dopamine hit, then, is seeing how they look in the images that are easily made and circulated. All of these lead to anti-intellectualism, ignorance, and just plain stupidity that sometimes I feel that the only marketing slogan I can tell people is that, “Hey guys! If you eat for the planet, your body will be more Instagram-worthy!”
In the week of writing this post, my father is currently battling a benign brain tumor and my mother has chronic illness. My brother came home with abdominal pain, ate fast food chicken, was rushed to the hospital, was discharged, ate fast food again, and is now back in the emergency room. (I can’t make this stuff up.) All of these happened due to unhealthy consumption-driven lifestyles. Their dinners this week included fast food, processed red meat, and a list of other things I haven’t tasted in months and years. They are all on a slew of medications.
Meanwhile, I subsisted on my spinach cocoa smoothies, homemade vegan mac and cheese, spiralized carrot pasta, peanut butter energy bites, and all the “weird” natural things my family never wanted to touch. Aside from the occasional aspirin I need usually from long haul flights, I haven’t needed meds since doing this project and can heal myself through herbs, teas, and exercise. Artists have a reputation for being dramatic, temperamental, spaced-out, alcoholic drug users so I’ve noticed through the years that people I work with are shell-shocked at meeting one who avoids drama, is on time, runs on spreadsheets, is sober, drug-free, and healthy… by choice and design.
One of my favorite artists, Werner Herzog, has a wonderful quote which says that you just need to outlive your critics. With regards to the planet, however, I don’t want to outlive or look better than anyone—I’d rather that we all live long, happy, and healthy lives together. Surely that is a future worth working for.