I recently had a conversation in which someone described his chiropractor to me as a “health nut.”
The reason? The doctor advocated a clean, gluten free diet consisting mostly of grass fed lean protein and organic fruits and vegetables.
Granted, this is not the diet that most people want to eat. But what about advocating it makes the man who recommends it a “nut?”
I imagine that if I’d had a chance to talk to my friend’s chiropractor, he’d tell me many things about the diet he chooses. He’d probably mention that the chemicals, sugar, and salt content of processed foods likely contributed not only to the aches and pains that brought patients to his office, but also to the rising incidence of all kinds of chronic disease. He’d probably explain that factory farming is not only brutally abusive to animals, but it has also changed the composition of their flesh because they are no longer fed as nature intended; instead of grazing on grass, they are now fed genetically modified soy and corn.
If he was really an over-the-top health nut, my friend’s chiropractor might point out this statement from WorldWatch Institute:
“It has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future—deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.”
The statement goes on to explain that the best way to reduce our carbon footprint is to shift toward a vegan diet.
Yes, I know the term “nut” is often meant to be endearing. If I told you I was nuts about you, you’d probably take it as a compliment. But let’s face it, more often than not the term “health nut” is not intended as praise.
Is it really nuts to care?
If you’re interested in nutrition for any reason—whether to lose weight, stay healthy or deal with a specific medical issue like heart disease or diabetes, or whether your concern is the health of animals and the very planet on which you live—you’ve probably learned quickly that there is no consensus when it comes to what is healthy and what is not and what is sustainable and what is not.
There is no one-size fits all diet that works for everyone’s health, and there is no certainty about how we can feed everyone humanely and responsibly. But some things are certain, at least intuitively if you are a person of basic intelligence.
Chemicals, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and hormone-laced meat is not doing your body any favors. Beyond that, and just as importantly, the production of these “foods” is not helping the planet in any way, and it is certainly not kind to the animals that are abused in the process of getting these products to your dinner plate.
In other circles, we might refer to people who are cruel to animals or those that disregard the safety of others in order to make a profit as “nuts,” whether we use that particular word or not. But when it comes to food—when we consider the possibility that some of our food choices may harm ourselves, other beings and our entire world—those who care about those things are regarded as crazy in some way.
Now I know that it can get mind-boggling and impossible to figure out what is really healthy and what is not, and what is true and what is not when it comes to how factory farming and agriculture affect the planet. There’s no way to get it all right all of the time. I eat a mostly vegetarian, mostly whole-foods diet, and I know that I don’t always make the best choices, not even for my own unique body.
Most people called health nuts are simply people who care.
They care about their own health. They care about animals. They care about the planet. And they get some things wrong, even consciously.
Isn’t it more accurate to call those who don’t care at all “nuts”?
Yes it can be fun (for some) to eat junk food and act invincible. It’s easy to get annoyed when people tell you that your food choices contribute to the abuse of animals or the destruction of the environment. There’s no doubt that making careful choices is much more difficult than refusing to accept that what you eat (or drink) matters to anyone in any way.
But is that really a good reason to call people who do care nuts?
So to anyone who has ever been called nuts—or has been treated like you’re crazy—simply because you care about yourself, your fellow beings and/or the planet, I have two things to say:
1. Nuts are good for you (especially the raw organic kind).
2. Thank you for caring!
Author: Maria Kuzmiak
Apprentice Editor: Leah Kroll / Editor: Catherine Monkman