I had ordered something for the Mister and I to eat. And when the waiter came with our order, I was mightily pleased for it looked very delicious indeed. I grabbed my cutlery to dig in when he said to me…
“Do you know that something has to die for every meal you eat?”
That stopped me in my tracks.
“Huh?” Of all the things I could have expected to hear at that time, that was the last.
He continued, “Think about it… for many people in the world, breakfast includes sausages/bacon/corned-beef, sardines. Lunch is something with meat/seafood or poultry, while dinner is something else with meat/sea-food or poultry.” He shrugged and continued. “People love their meat, it is true, but try to imagine the implications… lots and lots of animals have to die daily for every meal we eat.”
That was profound. I never thought of it like that. I looked around at the café we were at, and saw two dozen people with plates of delicacies spilling over. And then I saw something else… waste. People walking away from tables littered with plates of food half-eaten: ready to be discarded. Waiters were dumping these trays and their contents into waste bins. It was at that moment I saw this for what it was. It wasn’t about vegetarianism or cutting out meat from diets. It certainly wasn’t about healthy eating habits, or health consciousness. It was gluttony.
The Mister’s words had led me to a deep introspection. Over the next few weeks, I thought about it in my quiet moments. The glorification, the effects, the different kinds and the global consequence of gluttony. Then I thought about the hypocrisy of gluttons.
For a people as religious as Nigerians, it is peculiar that we are often reminded about many wrong-doings by our preachers; witchcraft, homosexuality, lying, cheating and so forth. But gluttony seems to be forgotten and excused even though nearly all religions out rightly condemn gluttony. Perhaps this is not so peculiar after all, seeing as most preachers live in glorious decadence themselves – in spite of the glaring lack of the people they shepherd. Consuming and acquiring more food and resources than any human being could ever need. How then could he preach to those in need against his gluttony and greed? Let’s call it “prosperity” instead.
And what about the ones we’ve elected to lead us? Heck, they’ve re-defined gluttony. Billions allocated for food for a select few – in a world where hunger kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. In a world where there is an abundance of food for everyone, but about 21,000 people die every day of hunger/hunger-related causes – according to the United Nations (this is one person every four seconds). It appears that most people don’t believe eating too much food is a crime against anyone or anything… but let’s not talk about that as politicians, community leaders, supporters and lobbyists. Let’s gorge ourselves on a country’s abundance and call it our share of the “National cake.”
Gluttony is a sickening disease. It is a moral sickness, a religious vice and a global problem – the consequence of which are horrifying indeed.
Do you imagine that you would do better if you were in any position of power? Maybe, maybe not. The population of the world is exploding at an alarming rate and demand exceeds supply. So farmers are forced to improvise. Farm animals are being injected with chemicals and hormones to get them fatter and juicier quicker (even crops are not left out). Of course they know that these chemicals they pump into their animals could be deadly to you but what would you have them do? At the end of the day, the glutton wants more of what he wants – in spite of it all… ingesting chemicals that in turn threaten the most glorious gifts given to him by nature and God; his body… and his life.
It is extremely naïve for one (in spite of one’s gluttony) to expect that the farmer would place the glutton’s physiological well-being above his swelling profit margin. Gluttony jam gluttony na. Again, do you really imagine that YOU would do better than that farmer if your roles were reversed? Please. The only person who can save one from the consequences of gluttony is one’s self.
Imagine the irony, we spend so much money to eat ourselves to near death and certain diseases, and then we spend some more on doctors, gyms and diets – hoping to save ourselves from the problems we used our monies to buy for ourselves.
For verily I say unto you, if you became less a glutton and ate in moderation and consideration, you may never again have to diet a day in your life.
(Side note: exception being obesity associated with medical issues like Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome).
It is important to humanize the consequence of gluttony for better understanding. It isn’t just that something has to die for every meal you eat – it is that that thing died for nothing, because the glutton who took more than what he needed from that buffet table, (only to discard a good portion of it as waste once he realized he was full,) not only deprives another from needed sustenance, but dishonours the animal that had to die for that meal he just took for granted. Consider that that little shrimp in the special fried rice you are throwing away didn’t have to die.
Gluttony is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. It is the excessive consumption that deprives another being of a life-giving necessity. Gluttons devour more, leaving others with less. It is immoderation; a bothersome vice. It is a sickness of greed. There is no honour in gluttony.
We have become beasts of consumption. We buy more than we should, we eat more than we need, and we take more than we give back. We have become wasteful. We channel our surplus food into trash cans and our own over-fat bodies. We mistake gluttony for opulence, a sign of good living, luxury. We call it being “fresh” or “frosh” as modern urban English would have us pronounce it. The chief inaccuracy about gluttony is to think it only pertains to food. It is about acquiring an excess of anything.
As self-observant and thoughtful beings, isn’t it wise that we should question our attitude towards gluttony and how it is has become acceptable in modern society? It is true that not everyone can be a billionaire philanthropist, nor can everyone give up meat (nor should have to if they do not want to). But what we can ALL do is to consume with temperance and not take what we don’t need – only to throw it away. This little action by each person – is a huge step in the right direction for all of us.
Personally, I have decided to do better in two simple ways… to never again buy more than what I need from a supermarket – all in the name of “buying for a rainy day”. Never again will I also eat anything MORE than what I need – at any time.