Thinking on what life is for, I realise it isn’t for having mindless moments of mirth at the misfortune of others. It isn’t for purchasing more goods, when I still have plenty. It isn’t for dining out ‘in style’ consuming more food than I should eat in a week.
Having enough to eat is all I need. But denying myself the occasional pleasure is not something I should do either. But a good Stoic will take care to not overeat, to be mindful that those who serve you are not disadvantaged in their work, caring about where your food comes from, and so on.
There are more important things to life than eating, once you have had enough to fuel your body, eating is, or should be, thought on as nothing more than a way to feed the body that you need to do the most important things in your life. And if you are aiming at living a Stoic life, you will think on those ‘most important things’ more deeply than thinking on the food.
If one has suffered from want of food in their past, they may consider the importance of provisioning themselves more often than one who has access to much food. This is an understandable thing for sure, but even then, if times have changed for that person, having more than is needed now, to make up for that lack in the past, is an unhealthy way to go, not a wise one.
In this western society we live in, when food is there in abundance, it is a sad fact that disease linking with overeating is also in abundance. Eating well, should mean eating in a way that leads to wellness, not unhealthy overfullness. A vegetable heavy diet, with some fruits too, combined with some nuts and seeds, and some foods with grains, and perhaps a little meat, but not too much, this is a good way to eat.
The image above is of purslane, a herb that is considered a weed in many places, but a good and healthy food in others. I have been growing this at home for nearly a year now, and try to remember to go outside every morning to pick some to eat. It’s a healthy source of antioxidants, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial plant compounds. Calorie for calorie, purslane is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth.
Growing your own food can be a good and healthy way to go, because it gets you outside, communing with Nature, and it also gives you healthy food to eat! When growing your own, you certainly learn more about the benefits of giving just the best amount of good things – if you overwater, for instance, you can kill your crop!
Dining out, with friends, and perhaps family, is a fine way to go, every now and then, but surely the convivial conversation is the thing to have the most of, not the food, no matter how good the taste. A little bit of a fine flavoured dish is enough, surely, lest one be overfed, and feel uncomfortably full, leading to feelings of sadness, instead of happiness.
When we best consider our food, what it is, how it affects us, where it comes from, and its effect on the greater world, in terms of things such as ‘food miles’, treating the meat animals well, good diary animal treatment too, if one can know those details, these are possible things the ‘fine diner’ can think on, to evaluate just how ‘fine’ our dining truly is.
It is possible to ascertain some of these details, and if one can do this easily enough, this is definitely a good and ethically wise thing to do. And if your research leads to the consumption of fewer animals, and more nutritionally sound foods, produced in more ethical ways, then the world can say thank you. Dining out can still be done, when you’re a Stoic, but it’s best to try to do it ethically.
And thinking about it all, who wouldn’t rather their actions result in having a more thankful world to live in, rather than a damaged one?