Charlie's Blog: The Bacon Factor


The Bacon Factor

Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.

If anyone asks me what I miss most since turning vegan, I tell them I miss Waffle House. I can live without McDonald's and Burger King, but I do miss sitting down at a Waffle House and eating some grits with eggs and bacon with a cup of weak coffee or a glass of sweet iced tea. Sometimes, I would get some hash browns or a patty melt. I have gone there many times especially after a late shift at work. But I don't miss not being able to squeeze into the booth. That last fact is why I am vegan now. As much as I miss eating that delicious crap, I will never go back.

I enjoy eating vegan now, but I must admit that I don't get that same fat fueled narcotic high eating salad and pasta. Food is just food now and not entertainment or psychological comfort. I eat because I am hungry or because I need some carbs for energy. Going vegan changed my relationship with food. I was a food junkie before. Now, I am not.

Meat and other animal products have an addictive substance. This substance is known as fat. You can derive fat from plant based sources such as avocados, olives, and nuts. But they don't compare with the levels of fat found in ice cream and cheeseburgers. High levels of fat affect the dopamine systems in our brains like cocaine. We develop a tolerance which requires ever increasing doses of fat to experience the same high. This is why chains like McDonald's and KFC enjoy such massive popularity even in foreign countries. They are fat delivery services where you can get your fix three times a day.

When I ate crap, I got high from it. I would chow down some fast food and just enjoy a feeling of calm in my brain even if it was creating turmoil in my intestines and arteries. It wasn't the taste of the fast food that I craved. I craved the feeling that food created in me. I never got the same feeling from eating sugar or drinking sugary soda. Sugar makes things taste better, but that's it. I think it is unfairly demonized.

Every person who I have convinced to try veganism has benefited from the change. They report feeling better and more energetic while trimming off weight. Others have reported better numbers on their blood work. But despite these benefits, they find their way back to eating meat. This corresponds with the reported 84% failure rate of vegans and vegetarians to remain with the program. What I have learned are these three things:
1. The vegan diet works for everyone who tries it. It is 100% successful.
2. Very few people try veganism. Less than 2% of the population identifies as vegetarian or vegan.
3. The overwhelming majority of them that do try veganism will quit being vegan.
Once a person tries veganism and feels the benefits, there's not much else that you can do for them. That is as informed as you can get. The question remains. Why do so many quit the vegan diet?

The answer to that question is obvious. Bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good. Cheeseburgers covered in bacon taste good. People will think anything and say anything to keep eating that crap. They will ignore science and embrace pseudoscience. They will convince themselves that veganism is unhealthy while bacon is a health food. They will do stupid things like eat hamburgers without the buns and blame the carbs and the gluten in the buns for their ill health. Somehow, the staff of life became the stick of death for these people.

How do you get people to stick with a vegan diet? You can't. I can show some slaughterhouse videos or cite statistics concerning the fecal content of beef. The bottom line is that a salad cannot compete with an addictive substance that people have been consuming since they were children. How do you convince people to give up pleasure and embrace pain?

We live in a culture of hedonism that eschews pain and pursues pleasure. This is why we are fat, unchaste, drug addicted, drunk, and unable to drive a car without killing ourselves for the sake of a Facebook update. Hard work may pay off in the future, but laziness pays off now. In a world where everything pleasurable is illegal, immoral, or fattening, why should anyone care about eating a greasy cheeseburger?

It all comes down to hedonism. We can argue back and forth about the low carb fad diets like Atkins, Paleo, keto, and carnivore with one side ignoring every shred of science on the matter. Do we really need a scientific journal article to tell us that bacon is not a health food?

I remain vegan because I believe in pain. Because of my Catholicism, I already live a lifestyle of self-denial. The vegan thing is just one more element of that lifestyle. I feel a moral duty to try not to die by the time I am 50. I have people depending on me.

Not dying is more important to me than the pleasure of eating bacon. My pleasures in life come from higher things like my faith, my marriage, my relationships, and from learning new things and enjoying the pleasures of the mind. All of these things are predicated upon belief in God and a life after this one. Worldly things like money or cheeseburgers don't hold the same attraction for me anymore.

Being vegan is not fun. It is hard. That's what people discover when they try it. And since it is hard, they are not going to stick to it. Feeling good doesn't compare to the taste of that bacon and the good feelings that come from eating crap. I'm not going to moralize about it because we all have to die sometime, and we know not the day or the hour. But I think if people had the option to live forever, they would still choose to eat bacon and die.