First, a campaign in Taiwan to get people to stop eating meat as a way of reducing Taiwanese greenhouse gas emissions. According to some reports, the initiative, launched by the aptly named “Union of No Meat, No Heat”, has attracted more than one million pledgees. Now, closer to home, in the heart of one of America’s “meat cities”, another effort is underway, just in time for the New Year. Urging Chicagoans to go vegetarian for January — if not indefinitely — is Chicago’s health commissioner, Dr. Terry Mason. He’s urging his fellow citizens to protect their own health by dropping the meat and replacing it with vegetables and fruits. Not only is he walking the walk, he’s talking the talk, in gatherings around the city.
Here are some excerpts from a recent Chicago Tribune article about Mason’s efforts (his campaign’s fourth year running). The usual journalistic skepticism and amused or semi-scornful tone is noticeably absent…just like the meat. Let’s hope the U.S.’ soon-to-be eater in chief (as in hail to the chief – yes, that chief, who’s known to like arugula) was jawing on this article, or will be (perhaps on his still-present Blackberry). There’s food for thought in that.
For Mason, animal fats are enemy No. 1. He has stared down this enemy and it looks a lot like pork chops smothered with dressing, rib tips dripping in greasy barbecue sauce and hamburgers heaped with cheese.
Mason said his vegetarianism lasted seven months last year and he plans to stay with it for good this time. Mason suffers from high cholesterol and had a coronary stent implanted in 2005. Both of his parents died young of cancer’his mother at 51 and his father at 39….
“I’d love to see people stick with it and make it a lifestyle,” Mason said of vegetarianism. “But the goal is to help people see the benefits of a plant-based diet.”
While Mason’s approach is more smiling cheerleader than stern lecturer, he had his moments, such as when he admonished men who insist on filling their car’s tank with the highest grade gasoline but fill their bellies with greasy rib tips and fries.
“You put the good fuel in your car and put the bad fuel in your bodies,” Mason chided. “What sense does that make?”