Tonight I ordered a plate of fries…

French Fries... a.k.a. "NastySticks"
French Fries… a.k.a. “NastySticks”

… and I didn’t eat any of them. I couldn’t do it.

Initially I just thought, “Oh, it’s just a little unhealthy, not a big deal. And I miss Western food, so I can afford to eat this junk, just for now, while I’m here in Asia.” (That’s a convenient rationalization.) Anyway, I ordered them. $60 NTD, around $2 USD for a plate of comfort.

Then I heard them dunking the fries in the oil. Heard the sizzle and pops of the hot grease doing… whatever it does to raw starch.

And that’s the moment that I realized, “… oh shit. I just ordered a plate of acrylamide. Cancer. Fuck. Shit. Damn. Ass. Hell. What do I do? I just ordered this, I can’t not eat it, not now! Plus, the manager might think I’m being rude, and I definitely want to save face, I mean, this is Asia.

Then another realization. What the heck am I thinking? I’m literally risking cancer just to save face? And with people that just happen to work in this southern Taiwan city that I’ll never see again in my life? Well, once I put it that way, it’s a really simple decision.

And I can’t eat acrylamide. I can’t risk getting cancer just in order to save face, that’s ridiculous. If I’d have eaten that nasty, oily, greasy plate of fries, I’d’ve felt like a hypocrite. I mean, I’ve been going around telling people how specific starches in potatoes, when subjected to high heat becomes acrylamide, which is linked to cancer. Plus, they’re just unhealthy as just about anything.

Whenever I think hard about what I really want to do in life, it usually comes back around to a couple of things: 1) Science & innovation, and 2) a healthy Raw-vegan lifestyle. How could I actually consider coaching people to better health when I myself eat crap like French Fries? It just didn’t sit well with me.

So, all this went on in my head as I sat and stared at those crispy, oily, browned fried tuber sticks in front of me. They just looked… nasty. I broke one open, just looked at how the fibers fell apart. At how oily it was & how the whole thing had undergone some chemical reaction in that deep fryer that created some things which were really horrible for my body. I couldn’t eat them. So I just walked out of the restaurant.

It was a vegan restaurant, and I believe that’s a good thing for the world and for our health in general. But it wasn’t healthy vegan, and served one of the most unhealthy things imaginable. Honestly, now that I think about it, I’d rather be eating healthy baked salmon fillets than to eat those nastysticks. (Note: French fries shall forthwith be referred to as “NastySticks”). But I won’t do that, for ethical reasons.

That’s the thing with the raw vegan lifestyle — it’s mostly focused on health, and people who choose that diet and lifestyle seem to be a lot more educated about health and nutritional requirements than people who are just vegan, for whatever reasons.

Photo by Daniel Go