Tonight's mofo will have no fo- no food, that is. It's because today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is poverty. In the past year, as food prices rose in many parts of the world, a lot of us began taking a second look at the relationship between food and justice. As many vegans come to realize, issues of ethics and justice are inextricably bound up with what we choose to put on our tables and in our mouths. However, many of us feel powerless to truly affect change in the global problems that so many face- poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, and the plethora of other challenges brought on by the lack of food. I don't pretend to offer a sweeping solution. Just a small suggestion. Fasting. I have never really fasted before, for any reason. Growing up in Iran, I saw adults all around me go without food or water from sunrise until sunset for the month of Ramadan, but I never took the plunge myself. For an entire month, you are supposed to go without food or water when the sun is out. You are supposed to pray. You are supposed to make charitable donations. You are supposed to keep your mind and your thoughts pure and filled with good thoughts. This year, Ramadan was in September. While I didn't fast in the religious sense of the word (I am not really a religious person at all), I did experiment with fasting fully for a few days. I decided that, leaving religious dogma aside, I would fast for those days to get closer to the purpose of Ramadan as I understand it- to feel empathy for fellow human beings who are not fortunate. And you know what? Fasting is a powerful form of meditation. When you take yourself out of the daily ritual of food (what am I making? what am I eating? what am I buying? what am I preparing? what recipe am I using? what am I blogging about?) you free up a lot of brain space to instead think about what all those acts represent. You begin to see how incredibly fortunate you are that you get to be picky about what brand of soy milk or bread you buy, and what kind of water you like better. We are so fortunate to be able to eat not just to nourish our bodies, but also for fun, for health, for entertainment, for learning.
Of course, I am not saying that food is bad, or that those with ready access to food are bad people. What I wanted to point out was how easy it is to become detached from our place in the cycle of food and justice in the world- to forget the roles we play and can play. On one of the days I was fasting, we were holding a birthday celebration for my grandmother. I made and decorated a cake for her. And when the sun went down and I broke my fast by sharing a slice of cake with her, I was reminded of how powerful food truly is.