Sunday, September 5, 2010

common sense, b*tches

I've been teasing you all with the promise of a book review for a while.  In the meantime, I have read Skinny Bitch three and a half times.  And a half?  I started to skim through it a fourth time in preparation to finally share my thoughts with anyone who cares to know.

In a nutshell, this book is a brilliant, well-researched, boot-camp-blunt thesis on using your God-given brain to grow some common sense.  One of the reasons I was able to wanted to read this book over and over again was because it just made so much darn sense I wanted to memorize it.  For years (about 8, to be exact), I have tried to explain my choices with statistics and granola-hippie justifications about how much better the world would be if we all stopped eating animals.  I didn't want to look like a wimpy bleeding-heart, so I was clear to point out that my decision was unrelated to animal welfare; rather, it was based firmly on the devastation to eco-systems/the environment in general and the exploitation of the poor (in our country as well as the world) that the meat industry promotes.

I've learned something over those eight years.  That something has been reinforced by my work as a corporate sales trainer, which requires a person to get another person to "buy in" to what they are "selling."  Here is what I've learned: no one cares about the environment or poor, hungry people.

Sorry if that comes across as harsh, but it's true, at least where a meat/cruelty-free lifestyle is concerned.  There are a handful of people who give a crap about "everyone else," and those people are already card-carrying members of PETA, the SPCA, Compassion International, and a variety of other wonderful organizations.  I should clarify - there are a handful of people who give a crap enough to make a personal sacrifice.  What people don't realize is that it's really not that big of a sacrifice and it doesn't "hurt" when you believe in your reasons.

What Skinny Bitch provides is the "buy-in."  This book demonstrates quite clearly why we should care, and it has very little to do with the dreadfully inhumane treatment these creatures ("food") endure during their short time on earth.  All of the statistics and other information Rory and Kim provide are there purely so that you, the reader, understand exactly what horrendous things the average American's diet does to his/her own body, mind, energy levels, and lifespan.  If you choose to care about the effects your food choices will have on the rest of the world, they share enough information about that to make a "sensitive" person's stomach turn - Chapter 6, "You Are What You Eat" was so traumatic that in all four of my perusals, I have had to skip the middle section of that chapter, which provides graphic descriptions of the slaughterhouse floor from actual employees.

I really, really, really want you to go out, buy or borrow a copy and read it at least once, preferably twice.  I absolutely cannot imagine how a person could read this book and not at least consider a substantial change to their diet.  I can safely say that it has officially pushed me over the edge I've teetered on for the past year, to a fully vegan diet and lifestyle.  I want to whet your appetites for this book because you need to know more about what you're eating, and I'm really not referring to cute, fuzzy creatures...but refer to this post if you want to see what you're eating.

I'll go chapter by chapter, sharing the most notable bits, the quotes with the most impact, the things I need you to be aware of even if you never buy this book.  Also, the chapter titles are awesome :)

Chapter 1: Give It Up - Just in case you were concerned about Rory and Kim easing you into the book, this chapter will allay those fears.  The point of this first chapter is to "encourage" the reader to examine their "gross vices," recognizing that it is those things that prevent you from realizing your inner Skinny B*tch: smoking, drinking, soda, coffee, junk food, pills, to start.

Coffee??  And that reaction is exactly what the authors are writing about: the perception that we need coffee to start the day.  This really spoke to me, so it was the first "gross vice" in my own life that I confronted, because I was absolutely the person who said, "I can't function without coffee."  I learned something after a week of drinking peppermint tea upon waking - I don't need coffee to start my day, and furthermore, my day starts better with tea.  I still drink coffee, but not every day and I do not depend on it to wake me up.

A final note on this chapter: it reinforced and gave words to why I generally eschew medication (OTC).  Many years ago, I took a bizarre class in college about the nature of pain and suffering - it started at 8 am, and I couldn't help but think that tied in with the subject matter.  We read a book called The Gift of Pain by Dr. Paul Brand, a medical missionary who spent time with leprosy colonies in India.  When most people think of leprosy, they think of an infectious disease which results in the afflicted person losing parts of their body - an ear here, a finger there.  What most people don't know is that leprosy is a nerve disorder which causes numbness in the affected area(s), and it is actually the lack of sensation that causes lepers to have "rotting" body parts - a person who cannot feel their fingers burning will think nothing of repeatedly thrusting their hand into a fire to retrieve things or move logs around, not realizing that just because it doesn't hurt doesn't mean everything is okay.

Pills like aspirin and the like merely hide the symptoms of a bigger problem.  Rather than pop a pill to relieve my headache, I normally prefer to find the root of it - have I been squinting in the sun?  I'll lie down in the dark for a moment.  Am I dehydrated?  I'll drink some water.  Am I hungry? You get the idea.  By the way, an apple is actually a very effective headache "cure."  A short quote directly from the authors: "Every medicine comes complete with a list of side effects.  That means that taking medicine will make you feel better for the moment, but will f*** up something else in your body." 

By the way, my mother might have a stroke if I quote this book too liberally.  I'm doing my best to censor their in-your-face language.  Please read the book anyway, Mom.

Chapter 2: Carbs: The Truth - I love this chapter because I hate the Fadkins diet in ways I can't completely express.  Fortunately, Rory and Kim do a great job!  In this short chapter, they explain the difference between simple and complex carbs and why fruit is good for you.  They even propose it is the "perfect food," and explain that a Skinny B*tch breakfast is normally composed solely of fruit.

Chapter 3: Sugar is the Devil - I hope that by this point in our nation's history, it is not a mystery that refined sugar and the bedeviled High Fructose Corn Syrup are bad for you.  If you want to know why, the authors are glad to share with you.  Fortunately, they are also happy to share with you some alternative sweeteners: raw agave nectar and molasses, which are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as zero-calorie natural sweetener, Stevia.

They spend a few pages making very certain you understand why you should never consume anything ever that has aspartame in it.  I was fascinated by the history of this deadly toxin - it took 23 years and multiple corrupt VIPs to get this crap into our food supply.  Throughout the last 38 years, there have been a multitude of studies and reports showing that not only is aspartame not good for you, it is downright dangerous.  There are 92 FDA-identified side effects, such as: memory loss, nerve cell damage, migraines, reproductive disorders, brain lesions, blindness, joint pain, Alzheimer's, hair loss, and weight gain, to name a few.

Chapter 4: The Dead, Rotting, Decomposing Flesh Diet - How can you seriously not be at least a little curious to read a chapter with a title like that?  Obviously, it's about the stupidity inherent in the Atkins Diet, along with the hopeless justifications millions of gluttonous Americans made while on it (right before they gained back everything they lost and maybe more).  Really?  Common sense, folks - how good for you can a diet be when it prohibits fruit?

Within the chapter, the authors assert a fairly compelling argument for why we, as humans, are not actually equipped to eat meat and therefore are meant to be herbivores.  They provide a delightful image of a human trying to chase down their prey and tear it limb from limb with our fingernails (talons) and [not pointy] teeth.  In addition to the fact that no part of our physical anatomy is up to the task of eating an animal, they explain that carnivores have 10 times more hydrochloric acid in their saliva and stomachs than we do, and because of that, they are able to break down the animals they eat - we do not have the physiology to adequately digest meat.

Another point of focus for this chapter is the rampant use of antibiotics, steroids, hormones, and other drugs in meat.  Because half of the antibiotics that are produced in America are fed to the animals people will eventually eat, we have increased resistance to antibiotics and their ability to heal us when we are ill.  Due to pesticides being sprayed not only on the food the animals will eat, but on the animals themselves, the FDA has tested and found, "that bacon had 48 different pesticide residues, bologna and other luncheon meats had 102 different industrial pollutants and pesticides, fast food hamburgers had 113 residues, hot dogs had 123, and ground beef had 82 industrial chemical and pesticide residues, just to name a few."

Phew!  I think that's enough for tonight - my fingers are tired and with any luck, your brain is about to explode.  I'll give you a few hours to let that all sink in and will complete my review tomorrow.  Here is a sneak peek at the remaining chapters:

Chapter 5: The Dairy Disaster

Chapter 6: You Are What You Eat

Chapter 7: The Myths and Lies About Protein

Chapter 8: Pooping

Chapter 9: Have No Faith: Government Agencies Don't Give a Sh*t About Your Health

Chapter 10: Don't Be a Pussy

Chapter 11: Let's Eat

Chapter 12: FYI

Chapter 13: Use Your Head

See you tomorrow!

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