24 October 2009

to veg or not to veg?

just met yet another raw vegan food chef, this time at a berlin party (dance, acrobatics, massages, annd.... alcohol free, you believe that?:). those folks are usually... interesting, this one probably the coolest and his green tea chocolate was memorable. ok so, cooking raw and vegan pushes the limits of creativity, forces you to use high quality and often exotic components. so no wonder it is original and if well done, very tasty (at least to my palate). leipzig has a vegan non-raw restaurant, also quite interesting, but then sometimes too dry and tofuesque (i am now pretty convinced that i should not eat too tofu regularly, and neither should most people especially men, but that's another topic). anyway the curious thing was that he was also an ayurvedic massage therapist, and from what he did on me a good one at that (yeah it was cool party). he was also not as sectarian and extremists as some of his colleagues although he did sound like this was the best thing to do for humankind. i am not convinced to say the least. ok it's delicious, so what? happy organic meat also is, it doesn't mean it should be my only food. first about the vegan part; for animals like us to live, something else has to die, period. whether it's a plant or an animal or a bacteria, i eat therefore i kill, and vice versa. of course killing and eating a bunny or a dog, doesn't feel the same as eating a sprouting bean or yogurt. but that's just our human mental/emotional bias. some life is dying to sustain some other life. if the dying life has a nervous system that has similar ways a fo suffering as we do, we are more sensitive to it, hence vegetarianism. conceptually pointless, but in practice of course i wouldn't eat human or even primate meat. as for bunny cooked for hours in their own blood (sounds better in french: civet de lapin) i shall not renouce to it in this life. so leave away whatever grosses you out, but thou shalt not mistreat the life to be eaten. don' t feed animal protein to cattle, don't saturate your fields with pesticides, kill the nimals as quickly and minimizing the pain, even if it' s not minimizing the cost.. be smart and balanced in your treatment of nature and of yourself. right yourself too. vegan people has another thing in common they have very little fat, and deep set eyes. parly because they eat little fat but also due to some possible vitamin or amino acid deficiency, although most take supplements, especially b12 . now, isn't that already a bad sign? a sign that such a diet is further removed from nature than a balanced diet?
and without eating meat fish or eggs, lack of vitamin D must be rampant among vegans around here especially with the little sun we get in the winter in this part of europe and since they have so little fat to store it. of course they won't notice right away.. but there are now clearly several cancers and auto-immune diseases associated with long-term vitamin D deficiency, so...

then, about raw. i didn't ask him about that but to my limited knowledge ayurvedic cuisine is mostly cooked and it's not unusual for ayurvedic doctors recommending eggs, dairy or even meat to some patients who deprived themselves of those.

one fascinating thing though, is that more and more evidence points to the fact that human evolution from pre-human ancestors was prompted by fire use and meat eating. we may artificially be able to renounce to those thanks to our mastery of energy and food engineering, but please don't make it sounds like it's more natural or better for nature.

yes, the key is to be more gentle with nature: but i don' t believe raw vegan, or vegan are better for the environment than a balanced diet including some animal products and meat without excess (no, most people actually don't need as much meat as they think they do). more important i think is to eat LOCAL (organic salmon from Chile while living in Europe doesn't make a fart of sense), SEASONAL (usually goes with local, you don't need to eat that many oranges and bananas, luxuries to be appreciated as such) and NAKED (limit generating trash: big organic supermarkets in germany compensate the absence of preservatives by over-wrapping their organic food,... yuck!). To me that's more important than saving bunnies lives, even if that's less visible; sure we live in artificially heated environments, but the climate in most european and ~subtropical regions are not meant for year-long vegans (if there is such a region) unless they rely on non-local non-seasonal and a lot of non-naked foodstuff.

long live food diversity,... including the luxury of raw vegan delicacies

04 October 2008

- with the childlike people -

A precious friend reminded me of the beautiful passage of Hesse's "Siddhartha", the end of chapter 6 (link above, starting at "Once, he said to her..."). And yet Hesse seems to contradict himself, did you notice? "Others have it, who are small children with respect to their mind" implying Gotama (Pali spelling of Gautama), as well as Siddhartha & Kamala are "childlike". But at the end: "people of our kind can't love. The childlike people can."

Incidentally, does that mean that, as a Westerner, Hesse didn't fully understand buddhism and Eastern thought in general, although he had a profound outlook on it and was much inspired by it? My own Western understanding of Gotama's message is that we ALL have a pure unalterable true divine essence, buddhism only providing a method for us to connect (take refuge) into this divine. I recently read passages of a book of aphorisms and quotes from Hesse, also peppered with contradictions. That's not necessarily bad. Contradictions might be a simple reflection of language's limits to reflect reality/truth. They can be stimulating, as the koans of zen practice which are tools to reach enlightment when duly meditated on.

In any case, the astute reader may have noticed that the phrase "Others have it, who are small children with respect to their mind" doesn't necessarily mean they are "childlike" in the sense that dominates the chapter. Rather it ought to be a slight translation issue. Now on my way to get the German version!

04 July 2008

Back from Greece teacher training (video here) now the challenge is to keep the pace, fly and fly... Actually i flew my mom & brother last week, so much fun no idea why i never did it before! And met some folks to jam in Leipzig's parks :)

24 May 2008

Those days i attended workshops in Rolfing, aka, Structural Integration. Google it, try it, you won't regret. A related link that touched me a lot is this blog by a renowned rolfer. Wow.
Personal evolution (maybe..)

"Dis, tonton Marc, pourquoi tu fumes ?" ("hey uncle Marc, why are you smoking?").. said my oldest little niece Anne last summer at a family reunion near Paris. She had just turned 8, and her adult face started to emerge. What to answer? It was posed so earnestly, but also cuz it's Anne-who-will-break-many-hearts with a little "sourire en coin" (a slight ironical smile). I guess her parents must have told her how bad smoking is, blah blah.. I was also a bit tipsy, a perfect time for a smoke, especially back in those days of post-dissertation stress and post-breakup trauma. But that's too complicated to explain to a 6 year old, or rather, that's just not a good excuse. She wanted the true simple reason, and so should I. Cuz it tastes good. Well my sister (her mom) might well kill me for saying that and enticing her to try it out at such a tender age. Whatever, she will without me saying anything either way. Plus sometimes tobacco does taste good, but that cigarette didn't, sorry to whoever i bummed it. Then what? Cuz i am just stupid?.. i think i almost sayed that since that was the first tought that came to guilt-ridden ex-catholic mind. That's how i felt too, weak, guilty and stupid to fall into a toxic trap. I was just smoking socially and cuz i recalled that nicotine feels good and numbs pain, especially when you don't smoke that often. And it's party thing, etc..

Anyway, so much for the proximate explanations. But the what is the ultimate reason? We humans are probably unique for... many things that turned out to be shared with other species, from tools to building cities to eating medicinal and mind-altering plants. But one strange truly unique thing we do is play with fire, and inhale smoke on purpose. I challenge you to find another animal who does that. Is it that surprising considering that fire was a crucial aspect of our environment of evolutionary adaptation for hundreds of thousands of years, even before we were "sapiens"? Whoever could not stand smoke or was scared by fire, likely genetic characters, was out of the gene pool. Those who stayed and depended on fire evolved resistance to fear (leading to fascination for?), possibly DNA repair mechanism to that physiological stress, and possibly taste for smoke and smoky things. I am convinced that certain persons have better resitance to smoke and pollution that others don't have. Smoking might actually be good to some/many people, especially the nicotine. A couple months ago in Colombia I met a Huitoto medicine man from the Amazonas who says simply that tobacco is not bad for health, but is a potent medicine to be combined with others (including coca leaves, in a mixture he ingested). Consequently, as any medicine, overdose, mis-application and prescription to the wrong patient can wreak havoc. Tobacco has just taken a very different route as its traditional users probably intended, same for many other substances (e.g. chocolate :0). But of course, disease and medicine itself may as well be seen as cultural constructs, continuously reinventing themselves. And humans keep experimenting with substances, fighting boredom or mal de vivre. All I know is I don't smoke anymore because common cigarettes are loaded with non-tobacco crap including carcinogens, and i don't need tobacco itself that much. Plus, now it usually feels harsh on my throat. But some people are amazing at taking high quantities of it. Resistance and to this kind of pollution and making the nicotine effects part of one's metabolism may be beneficialfor those whose stress is efficiently relieved by smoking, and whose metabolism succesfully repairs the damages to DNA (hence a potential ecolutionary adaptation). Someday we may be able to predict from one's DNA, whether a person can smoke until he turns a 100, or should stay away even from second hand smoke.

In practice what did i tell lil'Anne? I can't remember but I hope it wasn't something like "you will understand when you're older", an adult answer I hated when I was her age. I think after a few seconds of embarassed lame smile, I laughed and did a magic trick move , getting rid of the cigarette and pretended I had no idea what she was talking about. Ha ha, tontonmarc is sooo funny. Hopefully she forgot the whole thing, like I did for most of what happened when i was 8 years old.

07 May 2008

See this from someone who knows better, that pretty much says it all, and more. One of my favorite passage:
To welcome the end of the old feudal theocracy in Tibet is not to applaud everything about Chinese rule in that country. This point is seldom understood by today’s Shangri-La believers in the West. The converse is also true: To denounce the Chinese occupation does not mean we have to romanticize the former feudal rĂ©gime. Tibetans deserve to be perceived as actual people, not perfected spiritualists or innocent political symbols. “To idealize them,(...) is to deny them their humanity.”

31 March 2008

After a few arguments with Chinese friends i should emphasize I am NOT for a free Tibet, again, that's not even what the Dalai Lama asks for. Only for the autonomy that they are supposed to have. It's already one country / two systems, why not give Tibet a Hong Kong style autonomy?

The irony in all that when Chinese people & government complain that Westerners just don't get the Chinese way and should stop giving misplaced advice like democracy and free speech, is that they are a communist government, now with wild capitalism, dealing with huge problems of industrial pollution, not the best of what came from the West...

My view is only from the outside despite a brief tour a few years ago. But the outside does matter, after the incidents in Greece, there are only problems in foresight for the traveling Olympic flame. This government can cause an entire nation to loose face.

One reason I am picking on China (and not Russia, Iran, Pakistan, etc.) is that I am a huge lover of Chinese culture, it has so much to offer to the world and I hate to see it under such bad management. If this government doesn't get it right in Tibet & other areas they will only create more local nationalistic resentment, and the claim to autonomy can step up to a claim for independence. One more system in the big country, that's just my 2cts..

26 March 2008

What's the fhhell is wrong with the Chinese government? (note i said government, not China or the Chinese)

Yeah they are not the only government doing screwy things, actually who isn't. And just like when Spiderman was told "With great power comes great responsibility" I kept wanting to tell that to Bush & Co, now I really want to yell it at Hu & Co. At least when it's a democracy you can blame the population a little bit too, and there is hope for better. But what's the hope the Chinese totalitarian regime will loosen up its criminal grip on the country? Somehow we had almost forgotten how vicious they could be. After all, most people can now move around freely (except sometimes Tibet and Xinjiang, we'll get to that) and get rich if they work hard AND are lucky (fundamental Chinese concepts). They're now capitalists, more like "us". So democracy and free speech should follow suit right? Just be patient.. And hey, they got the Olympic Games and made a ton of nice promises back then (we'll get to that too), so things should normalize right? There are a few gigantic pollution problems, but hey they're not the only ones and they seem to be doing their best. They're not the among countries with the highest number of people executed on death sentence.. though that's probably because the numbers simply are not reported. All we care to know is that they are fighting corruption and are tough on crime. Good say the Texans, they're like "us". Plus they do it cow-boy style with a bullet in the head. It's not getting better. How could we forget?

Now political time bombs are catching up. First the issue of freedom of speech. Movies banned, actors banned,.. but that's only the tip of the iceberg. Their support to Sudan government in the Darfur massacres was alleviated by nice promises and the fact that many other countries have dirty hands in Africa too. But the real big deal is elsewhere this year : years ago the Chinese government played its usual game of being very polite, smiling and making promises to get the Olympics, but no imprisoned journalist or "cyber-criminal" has been freed. Check out this awesome new Olympic logo and read the story before dismissing it as exaggerated. The information barely comes out of locked up zones in Tibet, in a situation eerily similar to Burma. Now the sad thing is that you might think ooh mean Chinese government, if it were a democracy they would be more laid back about Tibet getting at least autonomy. Well, every single Chinese person I have talked to in the past few years thinks Tibet should be part of China. They are more mixed about Taiwan but not by far. The fact that Tibet has a different language may not be a strong argument for more autonomy, or in fact any autonomy (all that the DL request, btw) because there are many languages in China already, but one difference is that they also have a different script and a entire culture based on it. And, as I understand, other regions were conquered long enough ago and citizens are not so oppressed and separated culturally from the Han Chinese. Tibet on the other hand was (re)conquered militarily in a very recent past. Here is a nice simplified overview of the evolution of China's territory. The Chinese government may have done good things there, many roads have been built and a new train line opened, and some say, well see the Chinese government develops the regions, etc. I guess that's good too for all the Chinese immigrants. But, so what? Wouldn't a truly autonomous Tibetan government have done similar things without Chinese iron rule? Maybe less industrially but is that bad? So i don't know how life for Tibetans there, how bad or not-so-bad it is.. but what i can see now is tragic (lazy to put links on that, suffice to google the news). Again the sign that the Chinese have a rogue government are showing by how journalists are prevented from doing their work. So most people (and I) thought, well, there are huge problems but things are getting better. They're not. Remember Tienanmen? Well, the mothers do. It's happening again and again, in a different form, at a different scale.
On the other hand Taiwan rejoices to have a new leadership friendly but firm toward the Chinese government. Let's hope that, unlike the International Olympic Committee, firmness will prevail for now. At some point things may get better, as the educated Chinese diaspora may weigh in more power. Or it may need another revolution. That's how we do things in France too.