Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dinner Table Politics, a little practice report

It's just a little after noon on Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting in a little coffee shop here in Grinnell, Iowa. I need to hit the road very soon if I'm going to get back to Minnesota at a reasonable hour tonight, but I thought I'll write something here before I do that.

After the conference yesterday, I had dinner with 3 other conference attendees at a meditarranean restaurant. The food was great. I had lentil soup, a chickpea burger, and a piece of baklava for dessert.

There was some interesting dinner table drama that reminded me of a recent post by Evelyn from "Kapo is my Bitch", in which she talked about the reactions of non-vegetarians to the dietary choices of vegetarians and other "healthy eaters." Among the 4 of us at dinner, two of us were vegetarians, two were non-vegetarians. One of the non-vegs ordered a big juicy filet mignon. I have to admit that it looked very juicy, something I probably would have ordered in my non-veg days. Anyway, the guy with the steak was trying to get both of us vegs to have a taste of the steak ("It's that good, it's worth not being vegetarian for just a minute! What happens in Grinnell stays in Grinnell: I won't tell anybody else you broke your veg vows!"). The other veg gave in and had a small piece of the steak (he claims that he does have small servings of meat on "special" occasions; apparently, this is one of them). I said that I have to decline, because I have to appease the yoga gods tomorrow morning during my yoga practice. Apparently, this got me off the hook; he didn't press me anymore.

Gee, it seems that people have this perverse desire to see and delight in the "fall of grace" of vegetarians. What's up with that?

I thought I'll give a little practice report here as well. I did primary in my hotel room this morning (didn;t feel up to any kapo drama today). I was wondering how my practice would be, given that I ate so much yesterday. It was surprisingly light and powerful. I got the wrist bind in Mari D on both sides. Got a border-region-between-the-hand-and-wrist bind in Supta K. All in all, a very light, powerful and refreshing practice.

Okay, I need to stop procrasinating and hit the road right away, or I'll never get out of Corn Country.      


  1. Hi Nobel - I think people, in general, like to see a good, juicy "fall from grace" now and then. It is programmed into our DNA. Every cultural belief system has a "fall from grace" story; you probably know this much better than I, being a philosopher!

    Regardless of that, I hope you had a safe journey back home and are in the midst of doing your yoga practice as I write this comment!

  2. This doesn't just happens to vegetarians....I've met evangelical vegans/vegetarians who try to bring me over to the 'good side' which I find horribly annoying, similar to religious zealots who keep trying to spread their 'Good News' without regard for personal beliefs. I think the issue here is a lack of respect for belief systems/lifestyles different from your own. The person who kept trying to get you to taste the steak wasn't being very considerate by pushing you (and the other vegetarian) to do it. I'm a very happy omnivore, and I love eating meat, but I don't force my vegetarian friends to try my food, knowing that it's against their choice. It's just downright rude.

    Sorry for the you can tell, behaviors like the one of your dining companion really irk me.

  3. My brother is a hunter (and even has a book deal from his hunting foraging fishing blog) and every single time he visits us he brings meat and then heaves great sighs of disappointment that we won't eat any of his slaughtered animals. We've been vegetarians for years BTW, so really no excuse. I love him anyway and force him to eat tofu when I can. The last time I made it for him he declared that "it did not suck." Ah food.

  4. Cathrine, yes, I think it is true that every cultural system has a fall from grace story, just as every cultural system also has a story of a hero's journey. Interesting. So perhaps the obsession of contemporary tabloids and celebrity fans with fall from grace stories originate from an ancient drive that is programmed into our DNA. I probably can find this out for myself if I want to, but by "DNA", do you mean biological DNA, cultural DNA, or both?

    Danielle and Loo, very interesting insights. Who knew that food could be such a divisive issue? Then again, in a way, it is probably the most sensible issue to be divisive about (if ever there was one); after all, what could be more immediately important to us than what we put into our bodies on a daily basis? But Danielle, I do agree with you that evangelism/fundamentalism about anything is an unpleasant thing, to say the least. Hmm... maybe I should think and write more about this issue. Thanks for giving me an idea for a new blog post!

  5. Hi Nobel - well some of us cultural anthropologists believe it isn't possible to separate the "biological" DNA from the "cultural" DNA - they impact each other. Biology shapes culture and culture shapes biology (see E.O. Wilson 1998 - this guy is a biologist). The point being that if you follow Darwin's ideas of natural selection, certain biological conditions (aberrations) occur at consistent percentages in the human population for a reason: survival, and theses conditions shape the culture, which in turn "selects" for these biological conditions.

    For example, schizophrenia. It remains at consistent percentages in the population and one wonders why since it seems like a horrible mental illness. But schizophrenic behaviors are on a spectrum, and those who have the illness but are high-functioning tend to be brilliant people who contribute profoundly to human culture - the arts, sciences, politics, etc., and tend to procreate, which guarantees the survival of the species.

  6. Very interesting, Cathrine. Especially the part about schizophrenia. But what about something like cancer? Cancer has been around since ancient times (and probably prehistoric times as well, although we have no records for that), although its incidence has increased a lot in the past centruy or so. I wonder if there is some kind of evolutionary purpose for cancer as well, since (1) it seems to occur at a certain percentage of the population, and (2) evolution must have selected for cancer, since people haven't stopped having cancer?