I originally wrote this post after the first Hunger Games movie, but since Catching Fire is still fresh in my mind, I came back to this and decided to share it here on my new blog. When the first Hunger Games movie came out I was visiting my friend Elizabeth in San Francisco and we went to see it together. Elizabeth is the kind of friend who will dig with you into every question of life and the universe while you are waiting in line for tickets. Appropriately, while in line for the Hunger Games, we ended up discussing the Appetite. We delved into health, diet, vegetarians, vegans, yelp, and how you end up eating what you eat, and what makes you desire what you desire. Instead of writing up some thoughts in a linear point by point fashion, I give you the spirit of the dialogue between me (Lindsay) and my friend Elizabeth. I confess that it’s not actually about the Hunger Games; it’s about human Hunger.
Elizabeth: I was sick as hell puking for days because I listened to Yelp. Yelp is like a religion to guide your life by in SF. Everybody’s into it. Everybody on Yelp told me I should eat at this place. It just goes to show that what is good for other people may not be good for you. You should follow what your gut tells you to eat, not what Yelp says you should eat. I am deleting my profile.
Lindsay: The only time I’ve used Yelp was when I was managing a business’ page at a former job. I mostly go to restaurants because I hear of good vegan ones from other vegan friends.
Elizabeth: I keep wondering if I will end up vegan. I have been vegetarian for a while just because not eating meat feels good for my body. I just love the way I feel. I keep wanting more and more fresh vegetables and fruits.
Lindsay: I became vegan over a process that lasted a few months. My appetite slowly changed. First I was vegetarian for about a year, then I started slowly phasing dairy products out. Oh yeah, that was after that one experimental vegan month which I called F— the Food Industry February. I tried veganism for a month, then went back to eating some dairy. Then I slowly removed dairy products out of my daily habits over the course of a few months. During that time I kept learning more and more about the abusive, exploitative, and insanitary practices of the current factory farm industry, and I lost my appetite for animal products. I can’t support that stuff with my grocery money. And I couldn’t take in that kind of poison once I knew.
Elizabeth: I am afraid of becoming vegan, because I might not be able to go back if I need to, like if I live in a different country with different food culture. I don’t want to lose my ability to digest lactose. But I just don’t find myself having an appetite for milk. It just doesn’t taste good. I know I feel better without it. Maybe I will just follow my gut eventually though.
Lindsay: For me it wasn’t just about what felt good, or what my appetite drove me toward. It was the fact that animals and people and the earth are being exploited. My appetite followed the conviction. I couldn’t choose what I knew was bad.
Elizabeth: The external- someone telling me that this is bad- is never very compelling to actually make me change. For me it has to be more internal. If we change our souls and our appetites, the external abuses in the world I think will also be changed.
Lindsay: That seems true, but I think its good to learn the truth of what is going in the food industry, at the same time that your own desires are changing for the good internally.
Elizabeth: I just want the good. Lindsay, I’m convicted now. I can’t just be driven by my appetite, even if my appetite happens to reach for the good at the moment. It might change, and then I might be driven by my appetite to what’s not good. A slave to the appetite. It has to be a choice, doesn’t it? I know what is good. I want the power to choose it. Not because my appetite drives me to it, but just because it is good.
Lindsay: Yeah, you don’t want to have the Raging Beast within, like Plato talks about in the Republic. Humans are more than just appetite. We have three parts to our soul: mind, heart, appetite. The appetite should be ruled by our heart and our mind. If the appetite rules instead we become the raging beast. Or, for another way to look at it, it’s like the 7 Chakra system. If you are ruled by the solar plexus chakra, you become a selfish violent person who uses power to get their base needs and sexual desires. If the chakras corresponding to the heart, voice, mind and spiritual union are lined up, you will be guided by love or spirituality or something instead of driven by food/sex/power lust.
Elizabeth: Yes, I don’t want to eat salad just because my appetite is naturally inclined to salad right now. I want to see the salad, know it is good, and choose it. And enjoy it. Because that’s what’s awesome: what is good, feels good and tastes good. If anyone ate healthy like I have been for a month, they wouldn’t want to go back to the Standard American Diet. The appetite will eventually be in alignment with the choice of the mind and will for the good.
Lindsay: Let’s write a dieting book on controlling the appetite, Elizabeth. We can call it, The Hunger Games Within.