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Too Much Takeout
May 28, 2010
Trista Cornelius, Contributing Writer

I once knew someone who hated to eat. He wanted a pill that would provide a whole day's nourishment in one capsule. Eating, he believed, was a hassle. It took time, effort, preparation, decision-making, and clean up. Even heat-and-serve meals seemed arduous to him, and he used paper plates to lessen the burden of eating.

This open disregard for food appalled me, especially the lack of concern for the garbage cans full of paper and plasticware he sent to the landfill. Lately, however, I think I get his point. I've lost motivation to make my own food. Sure, I'm busy, and obligations spill over into dinner time, but that's only part of my problem, a comparatively small part. Worse than no time is the near total absence of determination or desire. I want to come home, take my evening nourishment pill, be entertained for an hour or two, and then go to bed. Making my own dinner seems like such a hassle.

This may not sound like a big problem to you, but it alarms me. An important stage in my veg transformation was discovering the feeling of self-determination that came from making veg meals, the deliberate act of choosing to lead my life in a new direction. Making all-veg dinners gave me a feeling of power and control. When overwhelmed by news of global warming, greed, and scarcity, I reviewed how my new food choices lessened my impact on the world, and I remembered the crisp texture of meals made from whole, simple, honest ingredients.

Now, however, recyclable plastic to-go containers tower above the rim of the recycling bag and clatter to the floor. Receipts from "Iíll just grab something" meals fatten my wallet and slim my bank account.

The thing is, on the few days I muster the effort to make my own dinner, I realize it doesnít take much more time or energy than driving or biking somewhere to order and wait for food. The preparation, once I stop resisting it, provides methodical, reflective time. When I make a meal, Iím more likely to sit at the table and pay attention to its taste and texture, curious how it turned out, rather than zoning out to the radio or watching a movie. And, believe it or not, even the cleanup is not so bad. Washing and putting it all away helps me unwind, sort of put the day away, and I head to sleep with a calm, ordered heart and mind.

However, the temptation to "just grab something" is strong. It seems like itís the fastest, least demanding, and most relaxing choice, but now that Iíve rallied myself to make a few meals in the last week, Iím finding thereís more to dinner than just providing the rest of the dayís nourishment, something sustaining and calming in the act of making a meal that no nourishment pill or to-go order can provide. What seems like effortful decision-making is really a chance to reaffirm who I am, what I believe in, what I want to see thrive in the world. Not that a vegan to-go meal goes against this, but it takes less thought, less involvement on my part, and so it fills my stomach, but the meal does not serve as a mirror, giving me a chance to reflect on my day, my self, my goals and values. Once in a while, eating out is a comfort and a treat, but lately, Iíve been using it to be mindless rather than mindful.

It still takes effort to motivate myself to make dinner, I still donít know what depleted my motivation in the first place, and Iím not yet making my own dinner every night of the week. However, Iím working my way back to that feeling of awareness and self-determination, one dinner at a time.

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