The Power of Cravings: Fat and Salt Taste Good
Day 12, Colleen makes the case that what we really mean when we say we crave animals as food is that we crave “fat, salt, flavour, texture and familiarity”. This seems like an odd claim at first, and I am still not sure it is 100% right. Eggs taste like eggs. Meat tastes like meat. You know this when you first go vegan, and then you forget. But there is definitely something to Colleen’s argument. A craving is not a taste.
If you find yourself craving animal products, what are you going to do? This is where the question becomes – What do I really want?
Obviously, everyone goes vegan for a reason. I think the key is to tap back into that reason, to remind yourself of the motivation. I expected cravings to be a problem when I first went vegan. Ironically, the opposite was true. I was revolted by foods only a few weeks ago I had loved.
For me the key was education. Once I had made the connection between the food on my plate and the life of the animal it came from that was all I could see. Now when I see a piece of tuna on sushi or salmon I don’t associate it with food, I see a dying ocean. I see giant boats trawling the seabed killing everything. I see massive nets bulging with thrashing, panicked fish, perhaps the last of their species. When I see feta cheese sprinkled over my actual food, I don’t want to eat it. The milk used to make the cheese was taken from a mother, milk that should have been used to feed her baby; but instead her baby was taken away, starved, transported and slaughtered. All for a few moments of mouth pleasure.
Obviously, fish sushi and feta cheese taste great, that’s why people eat them. But, what do we really want? I want the fishing boats to stop hunting flesh and to start pulling plastic from the ocean instead – the mega tonnes of plastic that are destroying marine life in unfathomable numbers. I want the dairy industry to be done. I want dairy farms to stop breeding cows and grow vegetables or replant native bush. I want us to act to stop mass extinction. I want us to act to stop animal agriculture, especially factory farming. I want us to take care of every body. I want this far, far more than I want to eat fish sushi or cheese. I want a vegan world before it is too late, and that has to start with me.
So, the cravings. I think Colleen’s advice is valid, Before you immediately reach for the cheeseburger or the dairy ice cream try an alternative. I don’t want to diminish the role addiction plays in all of this, or the way triggers work, especially those deliberately manipulated by the food industry, but rather than thinking – I need steak, ice cream or cheese pizza – break it down a bit more and make a vege burger, or buy the non-dairy ice cream. What might it take to satisfy yourself – fat, salt, flavour, familiarity, texture?
It is a good idea to plan for possible cravings and put strategies in place that work for you. The fortunately, very few cravings I have had have been easily sated with fat, texture and sometimes familiarity. It has been when I was hungry or was off my regular eating schedule. It may take a few experiments to figure out what works for you.
These two videos are relevant to the topic of cravings.
Here Dr. Greger looks at what is happening physiologically when we eat meat. Yes, obese people are triggered by images of calorie dense, fatty foods – MacDonald’s Marketing Department didn’t need Greger to tell them that. And why do people crave meat but not broccoli? Yes, there is a real reason.
Here Kerry McCarthy (Kerry McCarpet on Youtube) gives her take on how to stay vegan. I tend to think of her as the wisest person on the Internet.