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  • It was part of an experiment in changing habits in an effort to lose some weight through a program run by men's weight-loss guru, Harvey Brooker.

    Not long after 9/11, the need to get my life in order included losing excess baggage around my midriff. Enrolling in a weight-loss program from an advertisement in the local newspaper was the last thing on my mind but on the insistence of my wife, I agreed to go to an information session which wasn't exactly in our neighbourhood.

    Through his 20/20 program, I saw the need to do things differently if I was to expect different results and results I saw. One by one the pounds came off as I gave up unhealthy food choices... sugar, deep-fried, refined flour, starchy vegetables, polished rice. It was at the G.O.A. Toronto celebration of the Feast of St. Francis Xavier - Sunday, Dec 2, 2001 - that I decided I was going to give up meat. At first, I told myself, I would try to do it for that meal (which, incidentally, was a sumptuous buffet with some of my favourite meat dishes). The sense of accomplishment at having walked by those dishes to stay only with the veggies encouraged me to go meat-free for another day, which turned into another week, month, year and now a decade!

    It was during that process that I started to investigate the dietary habits of various cultures and the restrictions imposed by various religions at specific times or days. The flesh of a number of different animals and sea creatures was considered off-limits for a variety of reasons. However none included our genetic relationship to them. As I read more about evolution and understood our common ancestry to most of what we eat, I started questioning my deep-seated belief that humankind was created separate from the rest of life on this planet. As that premise began to disintegrate, so did the belief in the religion of my baptism, my concept of god, soul and afterlife.

    My wife thought that the lack of animal protein in my diet had caused my brain to deteriorate and she encouraged me to start back on at least seafood (which has the reputation of being neurologically nutritious). After six months of eating fish, my conviction that humans were just another ape in the animal kingdom was unshaken and I decided that the experiment to save my soul had failed. Since then I have survived, quite well, on eating more distant relatives that do not have the sentience that took even shellfish off my plate.

    That had the unintended consequence of pushing me into a radical atheistic phase which I liken to passing through the four stages of grief. As I graduated to acceptance, I mellowed into a Secular Humanist which has helped me cope with various difficulties including the deaths of my parents.

    So now when I hear that a friend is trying to become a vegetarian, I always caution them with my story and implore them to avoid getting philosophical about their dietary choices unless they wish to graduate from the cognitive dissonance that affects most gourmands today.
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