In looking back over the posts from the past two months, I am reminded once more of the problems that I started writing about at the beginning of this assignment. The largest one that I find to be the continuous trend in all sectors that feed into the category of healthcare is government involvement.
Either it is too excessive and its policies allow private sector industries to take advantage of the opportunities presented and harm the american citizenry, or it is too relaxed and does not do its job of presiding over these industries and keeping its people safe.
At the beginning of this project, I was hoping that I would be able to stay away from getting too “political” with my posts and focus more intensively on the facts. But I have learned that the facts are only made so by the extent to which the government decides to get involved. This makes it impossible to even have a discussion about something as seemingly non-political or biased as the food industry without having to bring up the governments role in legislation for farmers and meat producers.
At first, I was worried that I would become too emotionally involved with my opinions on the government’s involvement with the healthcare system in general. I did not want to write anything that would come off as too “extreme” or polarized that could potentially be brought back to light later in my life should I choose to do something like run for public office where the effects could be harmful. However, my research has opened my eyes to an entirely new facet of analysis of government involvement in healthcare from an entirely non-healthcare-related standpoint.
This kind of emotional involvement I actually find to be helpful as it gives me the determination to continue with I am doing and be passionate about it, while at the same time, not clouding my work with political opinions. If I am biased about anything I blog about, it’s that I believe every American has the right to a good health, as most politicians and people in general would also advocate. However, what they fail to understand or realize is that the paradigm of politics is that by changing or adding policy in one region of the government (let’s use farming as an example) can have an incredibly strong affect on an entirely different region of the government (healthcare in this case).
Anyways, to now reflect more intensively on myself, I have chosen to listen to my research and advice that I write about on here every week. I decided to go vegan, (at least for the most part), and have done so fairly effectively for the past month and plan to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. When I cannot eat vegan for extenuating circumstances such as a non-vegan-friendly menu at a restaurant or at another home for dinner, etc., I eat vegetarian. At the very least, I will not eat any meat and have switched my main source of protein from animal products to plant products.
In making this rather huge transition in my life, I find that I feel much better in my day-to-day activities both mentally and physically, just as almost any advocate for this type of diet will tell you. The fact of the matter is that I have more energy, an easier time waking up in the morning, focusing on various things throughout the day, and just feel better all around.
I have also found however, that this transition is a particularly hard one to make for a college student, let alone one from Maine. There are hardly any vegan restaurants in the entire state, and the more north you go, the less likely you are to find people that even know what a vegan is. I do not say that in a sarcastic tone, but rather as one of fact. It’s simply something that people in this area are unaccustomed too as it is very untraditional, and Maine is one of the most traditional and “oldest” states in the country, so this does not really come as much of a surprise to me. I think this is a huge part of the problem with the health of the state as a whole. When we were living in a time when GMO’s and artificial growth hormones were not even existent and you knew that your meat came from the butcher’s shop down the road where he slaughtered his produce earlier that day with his own hands, we did not have to worry about the problems we now do today. We are trying to eat the same way but with foods that are not at all the same as they were before the heavy industrialization of the food industry in America, and that can only lead to one thing- a decrease in America’s overall health.
We also have a much fewer selection of options for those people that do want to eat as healthily as possible. When I go grocery shopping, there are one or two aisles of “organic” produce, while the rest of the aisles are all of processed or artificial foods are unhealthy. This makes it much more difficult, and expensive, to eat healthy as the time commitment to make these meals is greater than a typical American’s meal that will likely take less time to make as it has simply been frozen and can be heated in the microwave and ready to serve within a few minutes. It is also more expensive in cost as much of these foods are slightly more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. This unfortunately makes shopping healthily impossible for some Americans who are very tight on cash as the cheapest options are usually the worst options for you health-wise. I have found that Maine is particularly not at all conducive to a vegan diet.
About a year ago my grandparents decided to go vegan and I literally laughed at them, never thinking I would categorize myself as a person who could be that “weird.” I most certainly did not ever think that I could give up meat as it was a cornerstone of almost every meal in my diet. However, looking all the way back to the beginning of this assignment, I suppose it was only a matter of time until my research finally got the best of me.
It also has changed my thinking about the pharmaceutical industry and America’s problems with prescription drugs. Doctors are prescribing kids who are my age or younger with medicine that’s side-effects include death simply to decrease their chance of an acne breakout. It blows my mind the amount of unnecessary and unhealthy medicine that America consumes. That is not to say that all medications or all doctors are harmful or unnecessary, of course, however, it is undeniable that America’s dependance on pharmaceutical drugs has become increasingly worse, and this is not even taking into account the amount of prescription drug abuse that takes place as well. I now look around at a more speculative view of most drugs and try to find alternative solutions to the health problems that I notice and in almost every case the answer can usually be stemmed back to a better diet.
This experience has definitely been an eye-opening one for me thus far. I hope to be able to continue with my diet as long as possible and am looking forward to the benefits down the road. I would encourage anyone who is interested, or even skeptical, in a vegan or vegetarian diet to try it. You may miss certain foods in the short-run, but the benefits you will feel from it in the long run outweigh them. Now looking at the future and the topic of my term paper, my research question will be the following:
How can areas of government policy outside of healthcare itself directly or indirectly influence the costs of maintaining the healthcare system in the state of Maine?