Ex-Vegan, Not A Monster

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A lot of people hate on Ex-vegans, and for good reason too. Vegans represent this idea of morality. As a vegan you are no longer needlessly killing animals for things like Palate Pleasure, and convenience. Vegans are often well-versed in the facts that animal products are neither necessary or natural, and that normality from tradition is not a decent argument to end the life of another animal.

Despite knowing all of this, ex-vegans still go back to eating animal products, the same animal products they are well aware was produce by the horrific conditions brought upon by most farming practices. Many ex-vegans, despite knowing this, gorge on animal products like they are the next new fad, like they are trying to make up for the lost time between cheeseburgers bought from McDonalds.

So most vegans obviously see this as resorting back to immoral ways, killing animals for no good reasons, often while giving bullshit excuses that even they know is crap. No amount of free-range organic natural labeling will convince most vegans that these labels are just that, labels. Used for marketing to convince a group of absent-minded sheep into spending up to 3 times the amount for pretty much the same product, I mean, look at “Organic” Gatoraid and “Organic” Rockstar energy drinks if you need any further proof that organic sugary crap is still sugary crap.

I left veganism for a very specific reason, and after years of going from vegan to meat eater to vegetarian and back again. I must have been vegan about 4 times over the past 2 years, for the grand total of about 6 months vegan, and I love veganism. I love the idea of veganism. I love the idea of vegetarianism, and I will refuse to say veganism, if done right, can’t be the healthiest dietary choice you can make.

I left veganism, again, because I have food allergies. I have a problem eating and digesting rice, corn, wheat, soy, peanuts, and sesame without severe discomfort and  occasional vomiting. I also cannot eat large quantities of food due to acid reflux, which makes it hard to get in proper nutrition of any kind, especially from eating over a cup or two of lentils or other beans, daily.

Veganism, if done right, is far healthier, environmentally friendly, and ethical a diet that you can make, so long as you are a mindful shopper. But I will not accept that one cannot, say, be environmentally conscious, and still have the occasional animal products.

I know by saying “Occasional animal products” many vegans will immediately jump to the conclusion of “Standard American Diet Animal Product Binger, because let’s not kid ourselves, many vegans do see these things in black and white.

My new diet consists of mostly plant-based foods. I still drink almond milk, I eat lots of whole foods, I avoid cheese and eggs, no red meat for me, in fact, the only thing I really changed about my diet is that:

  1. I no longer avoid small quantities of food, like trace amounts of dairy in a canned vegetable soup, for instance.
  2. I eat a small amount of chicken, about 6 oz, daily. This provides me with a whole day’s worth of protein in one small serving, and has minimal fats in it.

I follow Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, and their food pyramid. Most of my diet is to remain plant-based, and high in whole plant foods like root vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, some beans and legumes, etc. I think that eating primarily plant-based is the best way, but simply to help me with issues I have, I believe eating a small amount of whole-food poultry will help in the long run.

Now I have some issues with veganism and meat-eating as a sweeping generalization. Neither of these is a diet. Veganism can be incredibly unhealthy, especially if you are eating a ton of processed junk foods, of which many are made using Palm Oil, which Harvard has shown to be just as unhealthy as saturated fats found in red meats and full-fat dairy.

Veganism can be incredibly healthy, but also incredibly unhealthy, the same with diets that include meat. I have heard many vegans believe that a diet full of junky foods is healthier than a diet full of whole plants but contains a small amount of animal products. This is pure delusion.

Many believe that avoiding trace amounts of animal products in foods causes a significant impact. It doesn’t. Being vegan is about doing your best to avoid animal products wherever and whenever possible to reduce suffering, health effects, and environmental damage. But refusing to buy coffee creamer that has an almost insignificant amount of a milk derivative, or cereal that has a trace amount of lanolin-based D3, doesn’t actually impact the industry. Most of the work done in helping animals comes from the elimination of larger animal products, not miniscule amounts.

Environmentally speaking a diet like mine is not that bad either, despite what you might hear from many vegans, 6 oz of chicken a day will not destroy the world, especially if said chicken is replacing other parts of your diet, like grains, and some beans, which I cannot have, or cannot have a lot of, because of health issues.

Now this isn’t an attack on veganism either, but I don’t want it to also be an attack on me as a person, simply because I chose to put my health first, and my purity second.

If you can eat fully vegan, by all means do it! If you can eat most vegan staples, go for it! If you live in an area where eating fully vegan is accessible and healthy, break a leg! But there is nothing wrong with eating vegan to the best of your ability, and eating some animal products if it makes being healthy and happy feasible.

And yes, you can eat some animal products and still be healthy, just make sure it’s at a minimum, and it’s more healthy, lean proteins.

I now eat some chicken. I am not Hitler. My arteries are not going to curdle. And it’s not the end of the world.

Can Transsexuals Be Vegan?

Quote I found on a message forum:

“So one of my net friends (an omnivore) was teasing me about not being Vegan enough because I take hormones. Obviously I don’t use Premarin but the pills I do take (like most pills) are not Vegan. In addition to the horror of animal testing, Progynova (estradiol valerate) contains both lactose monohydrate, probably from a milk source, and magnesium stearate, which is probably from beef tallow. I don’t have the ingredient list anymore for my spironolactone but it almost certainly has animal products in it.

Now I don’t usually worry about the origin of funny chemicals that I can’t pronounce, mainly because I don’t eat things with funny chemicals that I can’t pronounce in them. However, I do choose to take hormones to modify my body — it’s not like I’m on anti-rejection drugs or heart medication and I’ll die if I don’t take them”

Transsexuals are people who suffer from severe gender dysphoria, and as a result take hormones in order to transition from male to female. The hormones help give a feminine appearance, and is very effective at treating dysphoria.

The main issue arises from the notion that they are not required medication, they are more along the line of anxiety drugs, but also different than that as well. There is no denying that while the medication does indeed help with depression and feelings of dysphoria, their primary use is cosmetic. So at least in those terms, we have to wonder at which point is a cosmetic drug necessary, and what constitutes necessity.

There is of no debate that someone needing to take a heart medication that contains lactose or gelatin falls within this range, at least for 99% of vegans (There are always crazies) but the argument appears when mental illnesses come into play, as there is a rather large number of vegans who believe that in order to cure all of your medical and mental disorders, that all you have to do is eat Raw, or High Carb Low Fat, or Oil Free, or whatever. And no, veganism is not a cureall for schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc, etc.

In terms of replacements, I am not sure if there is a legitimate vegan option when it comes to hormones. Getting a vasectomy to stop the testosterone, thus reducing or eliminating your need for a testosterone blocker like Spirnolactone might be the only way to reduce the use of that one at least, and injectable estrogen might not have lactose in it (I cannot find evidence it does) but it is very expensive, and might not be a very viable option for most trans women. Not only has there been a shortage as of late, but it is easier to harm yourself with needles. I am not sure of the hormones used for Female to Male transitioning, but I am sure they are similar in context to what I am saying.

That said, I personally believe that Trans hormones would be a medical necessity, and even if you take the pills, you are still vegan. I do not in any way recommend for anyone to ever drop their use of medication simply because they are vegan, and most vegans I have talked to agrees with this.

In terms of animal suffering, 99.6% of animal use and abuse comes comes from farming practices. In relation to that, only 0.2% of animal use and abuse comes from laboratory testing and medicine making, according to a site called Animal Charity Evaluators. And according to PETA, one should not feel bad about trace amounts of animal products that might be in food, and the same can be said about medications.

You are still a vegan, regardless of if you are 99.9% vegan, or 99.7% vegan. It is impossible to live a life where you do no harm to anything ever, and many of us need medications to help us promote the vegan lifestyle and help as many animals as possible. You cannot help animals if you don’t help yourself.

That said, I am not talking about people who claim that they “need” eggs, dairy, or meat to survive, that’s a load of bollocks. But in terms of doctor prescribed medications, you need to do what you need to do.

In short: Yes, you can be transsexual and vegan. Veganism is not an exclusive purity club.

The Elephant In The Room: Is Vegetarianism Really Ethical?

As a vegetarian for a year, I struggled with this for a long time. Even just days ago I struggled with this idea. Is Vegetarianism really that ethical a choice? I have been thinking about this due to many vegans who want to shove it in the face of vegetarians in a “holier than thou” tone, as well as just a little bit ago when I ran across this article.

In terms of environmental impact and dietary health, it is of no debate that being a whole-food vegetarian is indeed better than eating meat, especially beef. Most vegetarian efforts seem to revolve around beef and pork production as the primary evil, and to be honest, it is. Beef and pork contribute to far more environmental destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, and health issues than any other form of animal product.

But what about animal ethics? That is more of a sketchy story. Espessially if you are referring to the Lacto- and Ovo- side of things.

For instance, the way milk is produced in the US and elsewhere is brutal. Cows are forcefully impregnated, pumped with all sorts of things, and then hooked up to machines where they spend the rest of their lives producing way more milk then they are naturally able to handle. Their kids are ripped from them, which causes emotional trauma, and often killed to make veal. This is far more brutal in objective terms than the cows raised for meat, which are still raised in bad conditions, but are then simply killed. In fact, cattle raised solely for beef has a shorter life span, filled with less agony, than a dairy cow, which is often overworked for 4-5 years before they are killed off.

eggsAnd eggs are not much better. Laying eggs takes a lot out of a chicken, kinda like a human woman giving birth. Usually, a chicken will lay anywhere from 10-15 eggs a year. But to keep up with strict demand for eggs, chickens are now bred and forced to lay up to 250-300 eggs a year. This puts a lot of strain on chickens, who in normal conditions are often locked in small cages at worse, and at best have about a square foot of room to move. Chickens are often debeaked, which involves a sharp hot blade slicing off the end of the chickens beak, and chickens often suffer from disease and anxiety, which causes it to peck it’s own body raw.

More than this can be said about both industries, but I will leave it simply at that.

In terms of eating cheese, eggs, or dairy, even cheese, eggs, and dairy that come from “humane” or “organic” farms, the practice appears to be far more unethical than simply eating the meat of the animal. There are, of course, exceptions to this.

Veggans

Veggans are a group of vegans who only eat eggs if they come from well-treated backyard hens. If you want to know how this plays into the definition of veganism, check my article about it here. Backyard hens are simply pet hens who lay eggs, instead of tossing the eggs, the owners usually either eat the eggs themselves, or sell the eggs to others. Since this practice is much nicer to the hen, it is far better than conventionally bought store eggs, and thus more ethical to eat these eggs than it would be to eat meat.

Imitation Cheese

There are cheese alternatives that still have small amounts of cheese byproducts in them, such as Casein, which promotes the meltiness of the cheese. These are more ethical in my opinion because since almost no dairy is present, it is much better than eating meat, or full dairy cheese. These can also be found in almost every supermarket, and contribute far less to the harmful dairy industry than typical dairy.

Freeganism

What if you dumpster dive for tons of perfectly good food, and you run across a perfectly edible pack of chocolate chip girl scout cookies that contains dairy and eggs? Since this food was destined for the trash, you are not engaging in the capitalism that encourages the dairy and egg industries, so this would be a far more ethical choice than eatig conventionally farmed dairy and eggs.

There are some loopholes that make vegetarianism more ethical than omnivorism, but they are not common practice with vegeterians, so the only way a vegetarian who consumes diary and/or eggs can be more ethical than a carnist is if they consume far less animal products in general than the average carnist. And to be honest, that is what we see.

Vegetarians tend to consume far less animal products than your average american. In fact, they seem to eat less dairy than your average american as well. So in these terms, vegetarianism IS more ethical than omnivorism, but it’s still contributing greatly to a bad and unethical system of cruelty.

In terms of vegetarianism, it is simply more ethical and logical to cut out the dairy and eggs than to try to claim that “at least you are better than…” Aside from the loopholes mentioned above, there are many vegan replacements for dairy and eggs that one can eat, including vegan cheeses, vegan yogurt, almond and soy milk, tofu, vegan mayonnaise, and actual vegan eggs. These, however, might be harder to find outside of a healthfood store, aside from the almond and soy milk, which can be find in many places, including Dollar Tree, Kroger, Walmart, and I even saw soymilk once at Dollar General.

Just realize that just because you are vegetarian does not mean you are ethical, or even more ethical than a meat eater, depending on how much in animal products you consume. It is best to reduce or eliminate animal products, even animal products that one might think is more ethical than others.

If You Want To Eat Non-GMO, or Like A Caveman, You're Sh*t Outta Luck!

There is a huge argument happening in which people who do not understand the basics of genetic modification, botany, biology, or any science for that matter, are claiming that there is a big difference between artificial plant cross-breeding, and genetic modification. There isn’t. Plain and simple.

Everything that we eat, from corn, to squash, to bananas, to strawberries, to watermelon have been genetically engineered over centuries to become more appealing, sweeter, larger, and tastier. This also includes meats, eggs, and dairy as well. Chickens have been selectively bred over decades to produce many times more eggs than they would in the wild. Wild hens, for example, only lay 10-15 eggs per year, but since we need a lot more than that as humans, chickens in farms are bred to produce upwards of 300 eggs in a single year. Other “Organic” “Natural” produce looked like this:

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Corn

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Carrots

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Watermelon

Eggplant

Eggplant

In terms of Paleo eating, where one is supposed to eat like their ancestors did in the Paleolithic era, it is impossible to eat this way. Because not only do foods that existed back then not exist now, but because Paleo peoples spanned many parts of the world, and ate drastically different diets. So Paleo is something that does not exist, no matter how much you think your ancestors ate like a 21st century elitist in the first world.

And that is OK. Because unlike what many people might believe, we in the first world have lower rates of disease, much higher lifespans, easier and more comfortable lives, etc. This is partly due to the genetic modifying of our food over the course of thousands of years, in order to feed an evergrowing population.

And to get to the nitty-gritty, in terms of by-products, plant-breeding and genetic modification though technological means are the same thing. The process might be slightly different, but the outcome is exactly the same: produce bred with a specific trait.

Many claim that genetic modification itself causes harm, but not only does no evidence of any harm exist through this method, but it is a complete myth. If one is to claim that genetic modification itself makes a thing toxic, than one must point to the specific toxin it produces, and it does not exist.

In the end, we should not fret over whether some papaya or corn are Genetically Modified, and focus more of our efforts into getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables at all. We have an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and a wide choice of each, but they are not eaten in high enough quantities. So whether it is organic, or conventional, or GMO, eat more produce, it’s good for you! But you can’t eat like a caveman anymore, and no produce on the market is in its “natural” state.

An Honest Review Of Organic Gatorade

Organic Gatorade. One might think such a thing is odd, saying that Gatorade itself is a pointless beverage. Unless you are spending hours in the sun or doing vigorous exercise for long periods of time, it will in no way benefit you at all. And even then, Gatorade is mostly just flavored salty sugar-water, I can add sugar and salt to my own water at home, tyvm.

lemon gatorade
Ingredients: Water, Sugar, Salt, Citric Acid. In other words, salty sugar water with a few drops of lemon.

This weird surge of Organic Junk Food baffles me, because like Gatorade, I have also seen Organic candy bars, Organic soda, Organic juice pouches, and other junk foods that leap into the term Organic. Organic is meant to be a term in which people believe that synthetic chemicals and whatnot sprayed on food, as well as GMOs, are bad for you, and if you switch to organic you can be healthy. What is the purpose of even buying Organic if you can consume yourself into a “healthier” version of Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity? Even Pro-Organic websites tend to be against the rise of Organic Junk Foods.

For instance, despite the fact that this version of Gatorade is “Organic,” it still contains the same amount of sugar as regular Gatorade per ounce. Since there is no fiber or any other nutrient in Gatorade either, you might as well just drink soda pop. The product itself is clear, which is quite different than the odd colored liquid sugar that Gatorade often sells, but just removing artificial sugars does not make junk healthy.

I bought the lemon flavored to give it a try. And I might try out the mixed berry one soon as well, and when I say “bought,” I mean I got it for free using sales and coupons at my nearby Kroger. I would never spend a dime on any more expensive product that claims to be healthier simply due to being organic. And that is just the issue I have with this. Check this out:

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Regular Gatorade has a retail price of 1.49 for a 32 Fl Oz bottle, which equates to about 4.5 cents per ounce. Meanwhile, the Organic version has only 16.9 Fl Oz, and sells on retail for 2.49. That equates to about 14.7 cents per fluid oz. Meaning that you are spending over 3 times more for Organic sugar water with some salt and a splash of lemon than you are spending on regular Gatorade. Since you will be buying a lot at once, I highly recommend just using that money and simply purchasing conventional vegetables.

The one and only thing I can give it as a Kudos, is that it DOES taste better than the original. But it is not a taste I cannot replicate at home with a lemon, some sugar, and a pinch of salt. In fact, add Splenda, make it Calorie Free. It’s just not worth the money to go out and buy this product, just because you think that organic can do no wrong. Brands like Gatorade making Organic products simply cements the fact that “Organic” is simply a marketing buzzword. Need I remind anyone that Organic is a multi Billion dollar industry, and often make their money off of fraudulent ads against the competition? The entire idea of the organics buzzword is to sell products by making their competition out to be unhealthy by comparison.

There really isn’t too much to say about the organic Gatorade. It’s not bad, but I would never spend money on it, let alone MORE money on it than I would regular Gatorade if I drank the stuff. It’s simply an OK beverage, and not worth paying up to 3 times the price for. For most consumers, water works just as well, and is far cheaper. Need electrolytes? Add some sugar and salt to that water.

Bone Broth and Quitting Vegetarianism?

So this article I read on Food52 portrays the story of a vegetarian, or… ex vegetarian I should say, named Kate. Kate claimed that by refusing to eat meat and dairy that she got memory blanks, intense meat cravings, fatigue, and moodiness, up to the point of not being able to tell dry herbs apart.

She claimed she ate a really healthy diet full of Quinoa, Black Beans, Greens, etc, but still deteriorated this way, even though she also claimed to consume a lot of supplements. In comes the magical supplement, Bone Broth. She claims that just hours after consuming a single serving of bone broth, she was able to sleep through the night, and the very next day she claimed she had the energy to go for a hike.

In fact, a commenter on that article sums up my views on this quite well:

There is no magical nutritional ambrosia to be found in meat – and far, far less in “bone broth” (less pretentiously known as chicken or beef stock). Until you’ve had a complete and thorough medical workup (not just “talked to some Ayurvedic specialists”) to determine the reason for your symptoms, blaming them on an absence of meat in your diet is just intellectual dishonesty and a way to rationalize to yourself a decision you’re not comfortable with facing head-on. Because while it is certainly possible that there are a rare few people out there who *truly* aren’t able to sustain a properly designed, nutritionally complete and balanced, and calorically sufficient vegan/vegetarian diet (people with gastrointestinal disorders who can’t tolerate fiber, perhaps?), they are almost certainly quite rare, and whatever you want to tell yourself to make yourself feel better, it’s pretty darn unlikely that you are one of them – especially not if your problems were magically “solved” by ingesting some “bone broth”

Bruehe-1It might sound harsh, but it is completely accurate. Bone Broth has almost nothing in it, and nothing in it at all that doesn’t come, in higher quantities, in plants. And to claim that some vitamin, mineral, or protein deficiency one may have had suddenly aleved itself in less than 24 hours is ridiculous, and pseudoscientific. Such a claim makes me believe the symptoms of fatigue ad memory lapses Kate felt were due to the Nocebo effect, and not the diet. Meaning that she made herself sick.

Kate also had this to say:

For me, to argue that the killing and eating of meat is inherently unethical and environmentally unsound would be to discount cultures across the world. In Tanzania, eating meat is a sacred act, especially in a climate that’s inhospitable to plants. We have to create the space for other ways of being. There is no right or wrong way to eat.

Kate does not live in Tanzania, as far as I know she lives in America. A place filled to the brim with various plant-based meat and cheese alternatives, up to the point of literally having vegan cheesecake, vegan pepperoni, and vegan avocado-based ice-cream. In terms of ethics she has no excuse in terms of food availability or culture to not be vegetarian. If you simply don’t want to be vegetarian, than don’t be. But don’t hide behind irrational and pseudo-scientific arguments to justify your actions.

Just because something is “cultural” doesn’t mean we should turn our eyes to it either. It is Culturally Appropriate in many third world countries to beat your wife, or stone your daughter if she was raped. Culture is not an excuse for unethical behavior. The only real argument against a plant-based diet is “I don’t care about animals, this meat tastes good,” and it’s a poor argument, but hey, I am not going to force you to eat spinach.

I do agree with Kate on something though. Labels are getting too much, and this has been seen in various different platforms. For example, Henya Mania and Nikocado Avocado, two prominent vegan YouTubers, are quitting YouTube and social media because of attacks they are getting by fellow vegans who think they are not vegan enough because of HOW they eat. Such as eating processed foods, not eating raw, consuming GMO’s, eating too much fat, not eating HCLF, eating soy, etc, etc. The pressure on many prominent vegans is very high to eat a certain way, act a certain way, that even Unnatural Vegan was called out at one point for not being angry enough in her videos.

One should try to best to reduce animal suffering, regardless of if they are strict vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, reduciterian, engage in meatless monday, or anything of the like. Anything helps. But if you want to leave what you have considered your label of choice, just do it. Don’t make some cock-and-bull justification and magical (Conveniently currently popular) dietary cure-all excuse for why you are not eating a certain way.

Food Waste And Reduction

I actually was inspired to create this post because of UnnaturalVegan, but also have been planning on making a post about this for while. I guess now I have very little excuse to be lazy.

Food waste is a huge issue in many parts of the world, but it has mostly become a first world problem. Not only is this seen at higher rates in countries with higher disposable incomes, but it is also seen in a person-by-person aspect as well. Richer people are more likely to be wasteful with their food.

This makes sense as if you live in a low income country, or live in poverty, you don’t exactly have the privilege to allow food to spoil, and you use as much of it as you can in order to save money on food. I try my best in regards to this as well, being a person who lives in poverty and tries hard to keep as much food as possible from spoiling, which is not always done.

In terms of food waste, creativity and composting are excellent ways to save a little money. I have known of people who make their own beef and chicken broth from bones left over from dinner. I make bread crumbs from end pieces and stale pieces of bread. And the best thing you can do to avoid food waste is to freeze everything you know you will not eat within the next few days. Some other things you can make with food waste includes:

  • Orange/Lemon Zest out of peels
  • Coffee Grounds as compost of deodorizers.
  • And more

Food waste also has ecological impacts as well. Since food decomposes anaerobically in a landfill, it creates a lot of Methane gas that contributes a lot to Global Warming. 18% of all the stuff we toss out is food waste, which is only second to paper. Food waste is also what often lures wild animals to landfills, especially birds, who can accidentally ingest bits of plastic, and suffocate, get pieces lodged in their stomach preventing digestion, or otherwise can harm or kill the animal, so reducing food waste is also pro-animal welfare.

food waste
Fresh fruit that are going to waste due to blemishes and minor cuts.

The biggest chunk of food waste comes from meat products. About half of all meat that is lost in America and Europe is lost at the consumer level. 20% of all meat produced is basically tossed out, and at the consumer level, this costs Americans over 19 billions dollars a year! Eliminating meat from your diet will actually reduce this a lot, as for every pound of beef wasted is thousands of gallons of water and several pounds of vegetables used to feed the cow wasted. But at least lowering intake will help as well.

Many people also live in America without food stability, and many cannot afford food at all. Donating food you know you won’t eat in time to churches, food banks, soup kitchens, charities, or simply giving to people who know are in need of assistance helps not only people in need, but also lowers food waste as well.

There is also Freeganism, which is the act of eating perfectly good food that has been tossed out mainly by grocery stores. A good documentary to watch on this would be Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Another good video to watch is HERE. Many food chains throw out perfectly good food, which you can often find piled up in their dumpsters. Sadly, most grocery stores have took it upon themselves to place locks on their dumpsters in order to prevent exactly that, and many stores will refuse to sell customers food that are being prepared to be tossed out.

Some supermarket chains, such as Kroger, have programs going as far back as 2008 that donate food to food banks and other places to help the needy instead of just tossing the food out. But these are not common enough. When I worked at Dollar General my manager told me they had a request sheet they could fill out to donate the items considered waste, but the store I worked at never utilized that, and I don’t know if that was a legitimate thing or if my boss was just confused.

The good news is that food waste is declining due to all of these efforts by people and organizations, but food waste among the privileged and rich are still really high, and need to be addressed. Anything you can do to lower food waste will benefit you, your wallet, the environment, animals, and the poor. So plan a little.