James Bond and Sad Eaters
by Dan Walsh
I eat an alternative diet. The amount of butter, eggs, red meat, coffee and chocolate I consume tends to draw a lot of comments from vegans, vegetarians, and people who think they know better because they read a headline about a (faulty) study or remember a soundbite from a (biased) documentary. I also eat a truck-full of vegetables every day, but that tends to get ignored because it’s inconvenient for the scolding, advising, or passive aggressive shaming. On more than one occasion I have been scolded for a plate piled high with broccoli and two herb-roasted chicken drumsticks (organic and free-range, no less).
Them: “You shouldn’t eat so much dark meat.”
Me: “Fuck you.”
Ok, that was only in my head. But that’s how I felt. In reality, I would try to change the subject and move on. I used to try to justify my food choices, but that got tiresome. I also tried having frank conversations about the FDA and farm subsidies, but no one was interested. Soundbites are easier. I eventually gave up on explanations because no one actually wanted to learn.
Admittedly, my diet is pretty much the opposite of everything commonly considered healthy. It flies in the face of what the American government and media (sort of the same thing) tells us is healthy. There is so much contradictory information out there, and so much pressure to look good and be healthy, that food choices become part of our identities. I know it’s part of mine, and the way I eat is opposed to the way everyone who offers “helpful” advice eats. My contrarian diet could look like an attack on their identity. I get it. But keeping my mouth shut and changing the topic still riles me up. I feel compelled to defend myself without attacking them. Tricky.
Ironically, I found inspiration for a new rebuttal in the James Bond novel, From Russia With Love. In the book, Bond travels to Turkey to capture a Soviet cypher machine. His contact in Turkey is a colorful character named Darko Kerim Bey. One morning at breakfast, Bond is surprised by Darko’s plate of raw fish and looks at him inquiringly. Darko responds,
“Raw fish. After this I shall have raw meat and lettuce and then I shall have a bowl of yoghourt. I am not a faddist, but I once trained to be a professional strong man. It is a good profession in Turkey. The public loves them. And my trainer insisted that I should eat only raw food. I got the habit. It is good for me, but, I do not pretend it is good for everyone. I don’t care the hell what other people eat so long as they enjoy it. I can’t stand sad eaters and sad drinkers.”
That’s exactly how I feel!
So here’s my new response: “Thanks for your suggestion about the food I put in my body. I’m glad you found a way to eat that works for you, but, if you don’t mind, I’ll stick to what works for me.”