Dogma: the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities. (from Wikipedia)
For 13 years, I had my own Dogma: eating beef.
It was founded on the belief that fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in my diet were bad for me. It was founded on the belief that eating beef was dangerous because of E. Coli outbreaks, and Mad Cow Disease. I saw these attributes and events as the sign of a food source that I should eat.
It persisted for 13 years. During some parts of that period, my diet was entirely poultry for a protein source. When I started investigating Paleo and alternative dietary plans, it occurred to me that what I thought I knew of fat and saturated fat might not be true. Although I read the stories and studied the information, my decision to abstain from beef continued.
But in the last month, it occurred to me that I might be missing a nutritionally dense food source that could bring some additional positive results into my diet, if I could find a clean source for the meat. I knew that grass-fed and finished beef was available at Whole Foods, but still was apprehensive about adding it back into my diet.
It occurred to me that I was holding onto this one facet of my old low-fat diet for the simple reason of momentum: I had been doing it for a long time. The belief had become dogmatic – that it was healthier for me not to eat beef. That’s when I knew I had to take steps towards change.
The opposite of dogmatic behavior is pragmatic behavior. While holding certain beliefs to be true is important, I decided it was more important to accept all of the solutions to “problem” of a healthy and complete diet.
I firmly believe that variety in diet is one of the strengths of the Paleo lifestyle. I have increased the variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources I eat over the past year (and especially in my six month Paleo stint.) The different types of food give a great variety in micro-nutrients and flavors.
So the perfect opportunity came last week – when returning from a business trip to Asheville, North Carolina my trip took me right through the same area that Brasstown Beef and would give me the opportunity to see where the animals live and get a good price on a cut suitable for smoking. (As an aside – buying Grassfed beef in this instance was $1 per pound more than conventional beef that was on special at Publix last week. For a 3 pound cut, this meant a difference of $3. This is hardly a budget breaker!)
The next time, the beef (a chuck roast) went onto the smoker and smoked until it was to pulling temperature. It was delicious.
I’m still not sure if I’ll add steaks back in to my diet – the cuts that sound appetizing to me are the larger pieces suitable to slower (and lower temperature) cooking. That’s probably still partially a mental response, but the large pieces, slow cooked are more appealing to me from pork sources as well. (I’m more likely to smoke a pork shoulder than eat chops, for example.)
So in the course of a weekend I’ve ended a practice of 13 years that I could no longer hold onto.