SF Veg Society's Dixie Mahy:
Whether it's attending "opening night at the opera" or marching in a San Francisco parade as Ms. Celery, Dixie Mahy is one active septuagenarian! Dixie credits to her great health and boundless energy to a vegan regimen, mostly organic, supplemented by B-12 and probiotics.
Dixie Mahy is President of San Francisco Vegetarian Society and host of the World Veg Festival, held in San Francisco October 1 and 2, 2011. Both days feature knowledgeable speakers (including medical doctors) and raw and cooking classes to assist people in learning how to prepare vegan food as well as food sampling from vegan vendors and restaurants. For details and contact information please see OPEN EXCHANGE's Healthy Living Mart.
Each year at the festival, Dixie is given two assistants for each day because no one can do the full day both days except for Dixie herself, who at age 77 seldom sits down from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m! Dixie credits her ageless health and vitality to a vegan diet, and she has outlived younger siblings who refused her advice to eschew eating meat and dairy.
Dixie mentions three "Zen" turning points in her life, three lessons that taught her the meaning of compassion and "universal love." The first was as a five-year-old, when she went fishing with her father and was horrified by the dying gasps of a hooked fish. The second was as a young dance student, when a teacher's harsh treatment of a fellow student made her rethink the value of perfect form over peace-of-mind. The third was after Dixie herself became a teacher, realizing that compassion was more important than knowledge or pride. In Dixie's own words, "When I stopped being so concerned about 'who am I?' and focused on caring about othersanimal and humanI found who I was." Truly an inspiration! Bart Brodsky
Why do most people decide to quit eating animal products? Is it for ethical reasons or health concerns?
It's about 50-50. Half for health and half about the slaughter. Why do they eat a baby cow and not a dog? If people think it through, their compassion will come through. But there are actually many reasons why people stop eating animals and animal products. Today, especially, people are concerned about ecology, their "carbon footprint." Even the UN has stated that livestock is the most serious ecological problem exceeding those of automobile emissions. Other reasons for abstaining from eating animals and animal products include spiritual and religious reasons. Anyone on a spiritual path would logically at some point want to stop killing animals or having animals killed for them to eat. Eastern religions go back to antiquity with the acknowledged sacredness of all life and the need to cause as little suffering as possible: Brahminism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga, the Essenes, Nazarenes, early Christian Fathers, Catholic Trappist Monks, and Seventh-Day Adventists.
You first became a vegan out of compassion, right?
Yes. Often the people who are most active in the vegan community are compassionate, have a lot of empathy, and support animal rights. When my father took me fishing at 5 years of age, I just wanted to put those fish back into the creek. When doctors show vegans pictures of animals suffering, their frontal lobes light up on MRI scans. But not so much with non-vegans. That scares me because it tells me we are all different, we all react differently.
I eat mostly vegetarian and vegan meals, but I do eat meat about once a week. Does that make me a bad person?
It means you're on a different path. We all grow and develop in different ways and in our own time.
For me it is very important to source my food, to try to eat more local and organic foods.
Eating organic and local is a high priority. When I'm eating in a restaurant or at a friend's house I can't always be sure I'm eating organic, but I can always avoid animal products. You're still eating the toxins when you eat animals.
Limiting animal intake is a key to good health. One of the World Veg Festival's keynote speakers, T. Colin Campbell, co-authored The China Study, maybe the best case study ever presented in support of a plant-based diet. On page after page the evidence is clear: The more meat you eat, the more likely your life will be cut short by cancer or heart disease. How can you use this information to reach a wider audience?
Generally speaking, the people who become vegan have had health problems, including problems with their weight. Some people have to hear the message from a superstar. Mike Tyson, the boxer, is a different kind of vegan. Mike wants to be a good role model for his kids. He'll say really smart things in a common way, and people can hook up with that. Especially men. They worry about being masculine enough. Cesar Chavez was a vegetarian, a vegan, and a great man, too.
SF Vegetarian Society sponsors a lot of activities throughout the year and attends many community outreach fairs and festivals, culminating in the World Veg Festival in early October. It's rather sad, however, that people are beginning to realize the health benefits of a vegan diet but don't want to give up meat or animal products, like people who smoke, even though they know it is not good for them.
Duly noted. Now, as a living example of healthy aging, would you offer us some parting words of wisdom?
Think youngdon't try to be young! We're all going to age and die, even as vegans, but don't accelerate it with a poor attitude. Do the best you can with "the cards that have been dealt you" rather than complaining about your situation or envying others who were dealt a better hand. In other words, count your blessings!
Lastly, I would like to comment on my age. Seventy-seven is no big deal these days. I believe the average is around 75. However, I have read where it costs around $3,000 a year for medications for most people over 60. Since I have none of these diseases, I have saved lots of money as I don't take or need any medications. And that is definitely due to my whole food vegan diet!
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