Posts Tagged ‘diet’

Quantum vegetarianism

Friday, April 16th, 2010

First, a brief note: people forget that quantum does not denote something in physics or science fiction. A quantum is a small, discrete, indivisible unit of something. Just because the word has a science-fiction connotation does not mean it’s justified.

Most (if not all) dietary restrictions are binary. That is, you are either vegetarian or you’re not, you’re vegan or you’re not, you keep kosher or you don’t. I’m not sure why this is, but it probably has to do with ease of use. It would be cool if you could succinctly express something like “I derive 20-40% of my calories from meat, excluding delicious, delicious bacon.” Ignoring complications of language, it would be difficult even to ensure you’re sticking to your own weird dietary guide — another example is how difficult dieting is. Now I’m thinking how cool it would be to have an augmented reality system that would pop up red X’s over food you shouldn’t eat, and like, smiley faces with nutritional information over the stuff you should eat, while it keeps a tally of how you’re doing over time. But, I digress.

I think there should be more effort made into breaking down the continuum between pure vegetarianism and pure carnivorousness into more sizable chunks. Notice here I’m assuming that we define vegetarian as “someone who doesn’t eat meat”, so take that into account. Of all the different ways to break it down, we need metrics for thinking about partial vegetarianism that are easy to compute, easy to track, and easy to observe. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

For me, the easiest unit of aggregation is to not eat meat on certain days. The Catholics got to this one first. It used to be no one ate meat on Fridays, and now during lent some still don’t eat meat on Fridays. The next step I see is restricting meat consumption by meal, by either only eating meat during a certain number of meals over a period of time, or not eating meat during certain meals. Going by meals doesn’t scale well, since there’s only 3 meals in a day but 21 meals (avg) per week, so every week you would need to tally how many meals you ate meat. Then again, even when you avoid meat at the day level, you still need to remember how many days you didn’t eat meat. Unless you make some proclamation that you won’t eat meat on certain days, which is inflexible, quantum vegetarianism will probably need external systems to track meat consumption over time.

Yet again I find myself wishing for the time when we will all have chips implanted in our brains, in this case to track meat consumption over time. I may yet be the cause of the singularity.

Vegetarianism as diet

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

As hard as it is to do science on one’s self, I’m confident in the hypothesis that my weight and meat consumption are inversely proportional. I was pescetarian for around fifteen months back in college — or as I described it, I just didn’t eat meat. Though I constantly changed my reasons behind my pescetarianism, I was intent on the conclusion that I should not eat meat, and I enjoyed the lifestyle. It was certainly difficult, both at first and throughout. I gave it up for no apparent reason, and then went pescetarian again for the summer I spent in San Francisco.

I do miss not eating meat. There is some amount of deep contentment through self-control and self-denial. The community is nice, too; you become part of a special group where the only shibboleth is your diet. And there are a lot of really strong reasons not to eat meat. My favorites were the inefficiency of converting calories up the food chain, the various sorts of environmental damage that factory meat production entails, and an argument that a society which treat its animals better is also one which treats its people better.

But right now I’m focusing on the dieting aspect. I decided I need to lose some weight. I’m also pretty lazy, and have been struggling with enacting a consistent exercise regimen for months. And since the easiest way to lose weight is to restrict your caloric intake, it’s pretty much win-win. Now I just need to get to the point where I can make that commitment not to eat meat anymore.

Or I guess I could just not eat meat as much, but that’s actually just as hard. I’m pretty bad at self control when I don’t have clearly-delineated monolithic rules for my own decision making.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.