December 23, 2009
Quantum Holiday Wishes
HSUS:How are you celebrating the holidays this year?
Kathy Freston (KF):
I love traditions, so I'm carrying most of them forward—we have a beautifully decorated (fake!) tree; holiday music fills the house, and we are seeing friends and exchanging gifts. But I also believe in upgrading traditions when old ones don't seem to make sense anymore. For instance, instead of serving turkey, I am serving Gardein [an all natural, plant protein available frozen in most natural and conventional supermarkets]. Having seen the videos of what happens to turkeys in processing plants, I can't bear to participate.
What’s on the rest of your holiday menu?
[For my menu] I will draw from recipes that I love from Tal Ronnen's new book, The Conscious Cook. In my home, the meals will look just like what I (and probably you) grew up with—apple cobbler, hearty soups, "chicken" pot pies, mashed potatoes, pancakes, etc; but they will all be made without meat or dairy.
Frankly, I think we can change some of the world's biggest problems—obesity and disease, environmental mayhem, and widespread and systematic cruelty—by simply substituting animal products with plant-based ones.
You frequently cite the magic of visualizing an end and taking baby steps to get there…
I think "leaning in" to change is the best way to approach it. It's comforting to know you are doing something positive while not backing yourself into an uncomfortable corner.
Also, by being conscious about food—thinking about where it came from and what went into the production of it—you give yourself the moral fortitude to resist the gluttony!
If you were to write a "21-day quantum wellness cleanse" for the holiday season, what steps would top the list?
I would top the list with three steps, covering each of the areas of body, mind, and soul.
Body: Give up at least one form of animal protein in the spirit of not eating too much of the wrong stuff at all the parties and gatherings. By giving up dairy, for instance, you will keep yourself from eating cakes and cookies, drinking fattening eggnog, and gorging on cheese plates.
Mind: Teach yourself something new by reading a really smart and well researched book. I recommend Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's very topical, highly acclaimed, and you will be totally up on what's going on in the world of food production and its environmental effects.
Soul: Work on deepening your ability to feel empathy and compassion by going to a shelter or an animal sanctuary so that you see with your own eyes that there are too many lovely beings who are suffering. It will deepen and empower you.
If you could have one holiday wish that’s guaranteed to come true for animals/the planet/us in 2010, what would it be?
One wish: That climate scientists (and President Obama) would make it their mission to connect the dots between animal agriculture and global warming. I think everyone wants to do something to turn the Titanic around as we approach dangerous levels of greenhouse gases, but too many of us don't realize how do-able it is. When we eat a plant-based diet (and gently influence our friends and families to do [so as well]), we change the course of the future.
“Peace on Earth” is a common refrain heard this time of year. What advice do you have for fostering peace in one's own life?
The most basic step is to ask yourself, "Does this meal represent peace, or did suffering go into it?" Then opt for a meal that is good all around—for yourself, the planet, and the animals. Isn't that what the holidays are supposed to be about ... bringing light into the world, making things better, rising to our better selves?