A new year is upon us, as you can undoubtedly tell from the ridiculous number of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nicorette commercials. Television, radio, and web browsing sidebars are lighting up like Las Vegas promising hope and even salvation for amazingly low prices. They go right for the struggling individuals heart by promising to fix what ails them. I also noticed a rash of anti-depressant ads, which is a good fit with the rest of the solutions for sale.
One particularly galling ad enticed consumers with a weight loss plan that could help them shed unsightly pounds in time for special events like beach trips, weddings and school reunions. That right there, friends and neighbors, is the problem. When human beings are losing weight because of social engagements, we have completely lost sight of what is at stake here.
I am not Mr. Highandmighty. I understand the shame of not wanting to face old friends because of the blimp that I’d become and I understand some advertising geniuses know that they can squeeze a few extra dollars out of humanity by poisoning it with the idea that special events are why we should lose weight. I understand.
I also understand that if someone is dieting to lose the deadly, life-shortening fat on their body because they want to rock out to Milli Vanilli with the Class of ’90, that they will gain it all back with a vengeance shortly after returning from their glory days. Every pound that returns will bring with it the potential for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes- threats more loathsome than even Milli Vanilli.
Losing weight for a social engagement is very short sighted. Healthy living and the potential decades of extra life they offer are why I am living a plant based lifestyle. I am joyfully getting healthy so I have a better chance to be in the front row of my Great-great-granddaughter’s wedding. I am dropping pounds with aplomb for the chance to see the 80th season of the Simpson’s. I am happily losing weight so that I might make it to my 75th class reunion where I will still be able to dance and even do the Cabbage Patch.
At each of these wondrous events I doubt very seriously that people will comment on how thin I am. Instead I expect them to gasp at my youth, gaze at my vigor and throw flowers because by then I will be king of the world.
Giving up all meat and dairy and living a plant based life will hopefully make me as attractive as Bill Clinton or even Ellen DeGeneres. Hopefully. The additional reasons to make the change, however, are infinitely more valuable. You can gain decades and decades of life. You can reduce your carbon footprint by 70% or more. You can remove yourself from the iron grip of our current food industry. You can sleep easier knowing far few animals and people suffered because of your lifestyle choice.
Sure, it isn’t as glamorous as losing weight because your ex is going to be at the office holiday party, but maybe some of us are ready to find a deeper meaning in the way we live our lives.
Happy 2012: the Year of the Vegan.