Rory Freedman – Beg and Transform
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Jonathan Bailor: Hey everybody, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Very, very excited about today’s show. This is certainly an issue that we will all relate to. I think it will be a great conversation because I certainly admire what our guest is working towards. You have all heard of her. She’s well known. She is co-author of the book Skinny Bitch. She also has a new book out called Beg, which is a radical new way of regarding animals. Her website is her name roryfreedman.com. Rory, welcome to the show.
Rory Freedman: Thank you so much for having me.
Jonathan Bailor: Rory, I would like to get started right away with – folks might be a little curious why you are on the show because I myself – while I have all the respect in the world and completely support vegan and vegetarian ways of life, I am not one. Certainly, you are a very outspoken vegan and vegetarian advocate. What I do appreciate about veganism and why wanted to have you on the show is that I always love, love, love when I talk to vegans and vegetarians and I say “why you do that?” And they say “because I have a profound love for animals and I like to do all that I can to support animals”. To me, that is awesome. I’m glad that you are celebrating that. It seems like “why would we incorporate this into a nutrition discussion when it is so salient to have this moral discussion?”. What do you think?
Rory Freedman: I think that it is an interesting thing to write books and have them how in the world and existing in print to an existing online and doing interviews and having those exist – what happens is something very interesting. If you change during the process – and of course my my heart is 100 percent still with the animals – I am not necessarily bullying people and yelling at people that the whole world has to be vegan. I used to when I wrote my first book which is now about eight years ago. I’ve got a lot of friends who are not vegetarians or vegan and deep down, secretly, I used to think that everybody who wasn’t vegetarian or vegan was selfish and that they just didn’t care about anyone but themselves. If they really cared about animals the way they say they do, they would go vegetarian or vegan. Today, I do not feel that way. What I feel is that as an animal lover, wherever you are on your diet path, you can probably be doing more to be a better animal lover. It doesn’t mean you have to go vegan. It doesn’t mean you have to become an animal rights activist. There are things that we can do in our everyday lives that we might not have known about that contribute to a better world and a better life for animals. It can be really easy.
Jonathan Bailor: What are some of those? We can all agree that it is an amazing motive and that we should all be compassionate to the planet and compassionate agriculturally and compassionate to people. Certainly we should be compassionate to animals. If we are not ready to take the vegan or vegetarian step, what are some other steps that we could take to live a more compassionate life?
Rory Freedman: Well, there are so many things. Just talking about diet to begin with, we can ask ourselves “if I eat meat every day all the time and I’m addicted to it and think that it is the best thing on earth -” if I were to be a mediator today I would ask myself “do I really need this right now?”. What is my body actually need. If the answer is meat, fine. Give your body meat. If the answer is that you could probably use some vegetables but that steak looks really good, I think that is the first that people can do who are interested in being vegan. They could probably cut down some of their meat consumption by just being honest and asking “what does my body actually really neat”. If the answer is meat, fine. If the answer is not meat, and it is just because of it pure taste bud thing, maybe you can stick that one time and have something else. Really just give your body what it wants. Not only is that better for your health and for your body, but is also better for the animals and better for the planet.
Jonathan Bailor: Rory, what are your thoughts on – certainly, any time we eat anything, something has died. It seems like the more sentient and the creature is – the more humanlike the creature is – the more of a moral quandary that can cause. I am a big fan of fish. I love seafood. We always talk about meat, meat, meat. What if we as a culture just started to celebrate seafood a little bit more? Would you perceive that as a step in the right direction? What you think in terms of a morality perspective?
Rory Freedman: I certainly understand the question, unfortunately, what most people don’t realize and what I certainly didn’t realize for a long time is that fish feel pain. I know it is harder to relate to fish because they don’t look like the beautiful, strong cows or sweet, cute little chickens, or silly pigs. They are just not cute and fuzzy and furry, but fish feel pain. It has been proven by many, many, many scientists. They have pain receptors in their body. The only reason that an animal or a being would have pain receptors is because they experience pain. They may not grimace in the same way that we would think of how a cow or a pig or a chicken would, but they feel pain nonetheless. I understand the question. I also think we have to be so careful with our oceans now. We are seen time and time again that the oceans are being overfished and the pollution is at a record high. We are just seeing lots of problems with things that come from the ocean. Environmentally or from the health perspective or morally, there is suffering. I go into detail in Beg about certain methods of catching fish and about how some are catastrophic because they have by-fish. This means that they are catching non-target fish. Let’s say that there is a big fishing boat company that goes out and only catches groupers. They only want groupers. They have these huge nets and they catch millions of things in these nets. Maybe only 10%, 20%, or 30% is grouper. They don’t take the other stuff and try to sell it. They just throw it away. Now there are all of these other animals that have been caught in the net and thrown away as garbage. It’s not let they get tossed back in and are fine. They suffer when they are pulled out of the water. They can suffocate or their bladders can rupture from the pressure change going from the deep ocean to the surface. Or they can get caught and disemboweled or strangled in the net. They can be cut or bled to death. Lots of bad things happen to the other fish and maybe only 30% is eaten. It is really detrimental to the ocean and to marine life.
Jonathan Bailor: Rory, certainly in seems like – with factory farming and the fishing that you described – there are horrendous things happening to the animal kingdom. I am curious if you see a world of hope. Even as we continue into the plant kingdom, the irresponsible production of plant or animal seems to be going a little crazy now. It seems like we could be a socially conscious omnivore or an herbivore. We could also be an herbivore that is eating these edible products created by the industrial food complex. Could we be missing the compassion boat?
Rory Freedman: I would definitely agree that there are lots of gray areas all around any time of diet. Whatever we are going to be – whether carnivore, omnivore or herbivore – the best thing that we can do is to do it consciously. That does not mean we have to be perfect. Just a little more conscious. Again, I used to think that anybody who was eating meat was selfish. Because of some of the new friendships that I’ve had, time passing, and a couple of spiritual shifts that I have been experiencing, I have been seeing that there is another way. I have seen people eating meat more consciously than I previously thought that everyone was doing. We need a shift in conscience. (LOSING SIGNAL) The topic that really grabbed my heart and didn’t let go was the animal suffering. That is how I chose to mold my diet. When I first started as a vegetarian, I ate junk. I ate whatever I wanted. I ate chemical foods and didn’t care about organic or health. I didn’t care about vegetables or fruit. I hadn’t even heard of Monsanto. Just becoming conscious around animals, something happened where I started being more conscious about health and eating a balanced vegetarian diet. I became vegan. I became more conscious about eating organic, seasonal, and local foods. People can just be open to the journey and that it is not an overnight change all of the time. Things happen gradually. It just happens the way it happens.
Jonathan Bailor: I love that used said “eating consciously”. Sometimes we have individuals – such as yourself – who are vegans and vegetarians on the show. I will get feedback saying “why do you have a vegan on the show?”. People get so rallied up both on the vegan and non-vegan side, but everyone agrees that industrialized food production in not sustainable or passionate for anyone. Do you see an opportunity there for us to bridge that divide? There a certainly a lot of people – paleo people, for example – that are all about local, sustainable foods. We miss each other because of this other issue that seems secondary to a life of compassion. Is there hope to work together?
Rory Freedman: I think so for sure. The shift that I am seeing in myself in the way that I talk about the issues and regarding people who do not eat the same way or believe in the same things that I do. I certainly know what you are talking about. There is certainly a lot of duality in the world and duality in people who eat one type of diet versus another. Unfortunately and regrettably, I have been part of that duality. I try not to use dualistic language anymore. I’m trying to avoid being so “rah! Rah! Rah! Vegan is the best and everybody should do it and everyone who doesn’t isn’t as good as me!”. I’m moving away from that. I don’t feel that way anymore. People need to find out what works for their bodies and eat more consciously. People just need to do the best that they can. Even if it doesn’t look to me like somebody is eating more consciously, I have to love them exactly where they are. I don’t know everything. I don’t know what somebody’s entire journey is going to look like. I am only seeing one small step on their journey. I have no idea where the end is going to go. I can trust that they are going to find their way to whatever that looks like and keep my eyes on my own journey.
Jonathan Bailor: When we talk about conscious living, that certainly seems like a very high level of conscious living, and I certainly appreciate that. One thing that I wanted to highlight was that you are a leader in this movement. One thing I really admired and learned from individuals like yourself who are so committed to this is that when you are so dedicated on spiritual level to eating in a certain way – to be very clear, from the outside looking in, it seems like it would be very hard to be a vegan or a vegetarian. People like you and people that I have met who are dedicated to this cause, they get joy from living thing. Not only is it not hard, but it is joyous. It serves to me as an example that if we have a more noble motive than being skinny, we can do miraculous things with our everyday choices like diet and exercise. We have to have that more noble motive. Vegans and vegetarians are a great example of that. What do you think?
Rory Freedman: Yea, I would agree with that. I think that sometimes I have let that nobility go out of my head as opposed to self righteousness. I am trying to continue to be noble. I think that people can be noble wherever they are in their path. I just have to watch what I am eating from a spiritual and health perspective instead of worrying what other people are doing. I used to think that I was put on this earth to help animals and veganize the planet. There’s a lot of Messiah ego in that. I was not put on this earth to do those things. I was put on this earth to be the person that I am supposed to be and connect with God. If I am going to help animals or help people find their own way of eating that might be better than what they were previously doing, that is great. My real work is between God and I. Changing my diet at the beginning was super hard. Going from crazy New Jersey meat eater to vegetarian overnight was really challenging and it wasn’t fun at first. It took a lot of grit and determination. I was mad that I was a vegetarian and that everyone else was still eating animals. It took me a lot to get there. Finally, once I was there and I was over the addiction of eating meat, it turned into something really beautiful. The same thing happened again when I tried to go from vegetarian to vegan. When I finally put down that crack pipe for my cheese addiction. It was really hard and challenging, but then it became something really beautiful and noble. There is nobility. I just share that in case somebody is struggling and thinks it’s hard and wonders why they are struggling when it is so easy for everybody else. Nope, it’s hard sometimes.
Jonathan Bailor: The key thing, Rory, that I want to highlight for my listeners – it is always good to have examples such as yourself saying “here is an example of a vegetarian or a vegan. We can also say a lot of other people are an example of just how profoundly we can change our lives when we commit to something meaningful. I make that point because when it comes to eating, I have to tell you, it seems like so many of us are not committed. There is so much meaning in our food choices, but we just worry about calories and the number on the scale. Those are not meaningful! Pick something more meaningful, PLEASE!
Rory Freedman: Yea, yea. For most of my life, my food choices were all about pleasure, which isn’t very meaningful. For the beginning of my life it was meat and sugar and garbage. Then I became a vegetarian and then a vegan, getting healthier and healthier. Recently, for now, I am going to step away from all kinds of sugar to see how it feels in my body. I hate it already. It has only been like two days. I am noticing sugar everywhere. (LOSING SIGNAL) The day I decided to try not to eat sugar, I ended up sitting next to about 400 brownies. It was torture. Like you were saying, have a meaningful goal to get some wellness rather than taking that quick hit of pleasure.
Jonathan Bailor: Talking about being compassionate, one thing that I think is very important, whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian, there is another being involved, and that is yourself. Being compassionate to yourself and protecting your own life. For example – I would imagine that you agree with this. You become a junketarian. You give up animal foods but you don’t respect your own life because you are eating all of this sugary, starchy, trans-fatty, “plant” food. That is not respectful of yourself, right?
Rory Freedman: I agree. I put the animals first, for sure, and it took me awhile to remember that there was a “me” in there. The portal that led me to thinking about myself was vegetarianism. I do care about my health. After I started tinkering around with vegetarianism, I started caring what I was putting in my mouth instead of being a human dump truck. Again, it was just 100% pleasure based. I am trying to extend that compassion further from the animals and to myself and fellow humans who might be doing things differently – even wildly differently. I used to hear people talk about paleo and I would roll my eyes. Now I am thinking “okay, if that is what works for somebody, then that is what works for somebody. That is not for me, but that is what works for them. I have to honor that and not think that my feelings and my beliefs are above somebody else’s. It is tricky. Even as I am saying it, I am thinking “what about the animals?”. I just have to trust that there is a god in charge who is sorting through all of this and guarding each one of us. If we can just listen to our inner God or inner ether that tells us to eat sugar or eat meat even if you don’t want meat just because it tastes good.
Jonathan Bailor: Well, Rory, I can tell you that your efforts are not in vain. I can tell you – even if for no other reason – for one person, and that is myself. I didn’t plan on telling this very short story during our interview, but I have been so touched by what you have said that I feel like it is my obligation. I’ll be completely transparent here. I couldn’t finish Skinny Bitch when I read it the first time for exactly the reasons that you mentioned. Then I was like “oh my gosh, I finally have the chance to talk to Rory”. I began the call with one mindset. Hearing what you are saying and seeing this example opens minds. I think that while it is that struggle, I have the same kind of thing. Like you, I have very strong opinions. I am now on the other end of it with you and I appreciate that so much. When you can come with that open mindedness and that spirit of collaboration, that is when conversation happens. I am so excited that someone as high-ranking as you is demonstrating that, because that is when real change happens.
Rory Freedman: Thank you, and I appreciate your sharing of that. Again, as I said earlier, it is a challenging thing to put something out there. Even if you are writing about a tree, it is personal because you wrote it and it is coming from your point of view. Writing about veganism and diet and animals in general more recently, you change a lot. When I wrote that first book eight years ago, I was an entirely different person. I don’t regret that book at all. Without question, it serves it’s purpose and has had positive change in a lot of people’s lives. I am glad that that book exists. It does make me cringe a little bit now that I am so different now from the way that I wrote that book and others that followed. We are changing every day. My work is going to further be out there in the world, and I might be different than it, but I can show up today and be who I am and let that be enough.
Jonathan Bailor: Being an example of having that ability to change and evolve both mentally and spiritually, I can salute enough. I appreciate that. What is next? You have been on quite the journey here. What is next for you, Rory?
Rory Freedman: I don’t know what is next. People ask me sometimes. I don’t even want to say that I am a writer. That is what I did in the past. I don’t know what I am going to do tomorrow. Tomorrow I might decide that I want to be a violinist or a waitress or a crazy person who lives in a cabin and doesn’t talk to other people. I have no idea what is next for me, and it is exciting and beautiful. Today, I am going to continue to promote Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals and just hope that it changes minds and touches hearts. I do hope people read the book. There is a lot of good, solid information in there that will help people become better animal lovers. Beyond that book, I have no idea. Maybe I’ll be an astronaut. Maybe I’ll write a book about something entirely different. I have no idea/ It is fun not knowing.
Jonathan Bailor: Skinny astronaut. I can totally see that.
Rory Freedman: Perfect. I like that. That sounds good.
Jonathan Bailor: Alright, well thank you so much for coming on the show. This has been an absolute pleasure. Again, I want to leave the listeners with something. Please, listen to the show. I know we had a few connection problems in the middle, but next time you want to argue or yell or tell someone that one way of eating versus another is the right or better – we have Rory Freedman, the author of Skinny Bitch, saying “open your minds”. If Rory can do it, we can all do it. Thank you again, Rory. The book is called Beg. The woman, and wonderful example is Rory Freedman. Her website is roryfreedman.com.
Rory Freedman: Thank you so much for having me.
Jonathan Bailor: Folks, I hope you enjoyed today’s call as much as I did. Truly, I have to take a step back. That went a lot differently than I thought it would. I had a spiritual moment as well. Please remember: this week and every week after; eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Talk with you soon.