The Third Way Philosophy and How It Works

The Third Way is an end to fallacious political arguments heard in the public arena in favor for three or more options. It is way more likely that there are more than two options and indeed, the search for multiple options brings depth and clarity to the issue at hand. The importance of realistic choices beyond two is seen at the highest levels of American governance, where a two party system controls all three branches of government. We are confronted with either/or choices everyday and while a very small percentage of those choices actually only have two options, we tend to assume around two or three choices for the vast majority of situations. It is time to change that.

Some will love the idea and enjoy reading about the many forward thinking ideas that fit under the umbrella of the Third Way. They will be enthralled to see United States politics fidget and squirm as the people demand a third (and fourth and fifth) party to represent the people. Indeed, some here will marvel in awe as the politcal party system unravels as the Third Way gains acceptance to such an extent that it's internal foundation is mirrored into politics itself, making the political party obsolete. But some will not know how to engender Third Way thinking into their lives. They will come here to learn about novel third choices between typical dichtomies, but it will be ideas coming from outside of them. How does one think in a way that generates a Flexitarian outcome?

One: Identify the spectrum and its poles

The Third Way philosophy can be seen in the example of geometry. As seen in previous explanations of the Third Way 1), the increase in dimensionality of a subject brings us more precision in perception of the subject at hand. A cube is more precise and clear than a square. This is because it has added an extra dimension to the square, which is only measured up/down and left/right.

When posed with an either/or choice, duly note the choices and be prepared to explore unforeseen dimensions as you look for a novel choice not presented to you.

Two: Distill Micro Arguments From The Macro Argument And Find The Values

In order to create the extra dimension of measurement (or value), we need to break down the two choices into terms of what is important to them. Analyze each end of the spectrum and define what important factors led people to hold that position. An example of omnivory vs. vegetarianism will be used as seen here 2).

Most people hold a position such as eating meat (or omnivory for humans) for a variety of factors. They will say, “I eat meat because A, B, C, sometimes D and E”. Eating meat is the macro argument. How did they get there? From independent positions of A through E. The same is true for the vegetarian side. Flesh out the micro arguments to the best of your ability.

Behind these micro arguments are the values they hold as most important. The reason for many polarized positions in politics is because people value different things. Understanding what each side values is key to forming a legitimate third (or fourth) position.

In the case of omnivory vs. vegetarianism, there are different values that carry more meaning to one side than the other. Quite clearly, the value of animal life and animal rights is more highly valued than in the omnivorous camp. However, omnivores can recognize the importance of the vegetarian value of animal rights and support animal welfare, which treats animals with respect and dignity (until slaughter, that is). However, by recognizing that value of the other side, omnivores can make the lives of livestock animals 95% without torture, distress, and unpleasant living, which should make strict vegetarians happier.

Coincidentally, the adoption of animal welfare to the omnivore camp improves the omnivore position, quite simply because eating healthy, pastured and well kept animals is healthier than eating sick and diseased animals. This is how one side can learn from the other instead of always fighting it.

Three: Objectively consider each micro position

Belief in the macro agrument can shut out actual listening to the opposing side's micro positions. Despite what your brain and heart are telling you, not considering what the other side is saying is not helping your goals and expectations. To begin with, presumably you want others in the other end of the polarity to actually listen to your arguments. Breaking the golden rule does not bode well for how to accomplish your goals. To be an honest mind, you must subject yourself to truth in all it's forms, even if it appears on the side you are not cheering for. Indeed, it would be best for an person applying the Third Way philosophy to know that the “team” they are cheering for is TRUTH and truth alone. It is okay for your position of what truth is to adjust as you come into better vision of what reality actually is. It is not okay to support arguments that are not truthful for the sake of saving your incorrect choices of the past.

It it quite likely that you cannot do this section enough justice. Feel free to continually revisit the exploration of microarguments as new ones arise and as reality changes day to day.

Four: Contemplate the new dimensions of thought

The macro argument tends to be a one dimensional spectrum. What new vectors have arrived according to these smaller variables? In the question of omnivory vs. vegetarianism, in what was a simple question about what funnels down your gullet now balloons into deep questions of humanity's effect on the ecosystem, an individual's unique composition and metabolic profile, farming methods, food processing methods, and more. Allow your thoughts to roam with these matters. Allow the imagination to see the topic of conversation in a new light. Take note of any differences and decide if they help define and describe the topic at hand.

While steps two and three were breaking down things into their component parts, steps four and five are putting the parts back into a fuller picture. One could say this is initially using your left brain first to assemble the pieces orderly and then using the wholistic right brain to see it all as a unified existence. This portion of the process is a bit more intuitive and requires you to let your thoughts relax and let your gut brain get some exercise.

Five: Allow shifting from below to clarify the above

As new vectors of thought expose you to dimensions unforeseen, consider how this reflects into the macro positions above. Does it warrant a shift in position? Remember, a shift in position does not mean you are losing your original position completely. Considering we are working with a geometry metaphor, a shift can also be the Artist adjusting the object so as to better encapsulate what he wants to depict. Ignoring the artistic shift that comes from the gut leaves the object more dull and less complete.

Six: Bring everything back

Return to the original question, but this time allow your mind to retrace all the unique shifts and angles that you experienced through the process. Bring those experiences into the discussion and allow others the gratifying experience of shifting into higher dimensions of thought.

Let us take a look at how this philosophy is applied in a brief and not exhuastive manner. Considering the amount of information out there on the question of omnivory or vegetarianism, this process could fill a small book.

What has value in the Omnivore argument? (step 1 and 2)

Quality of ingredients-many vegetarian options (other than the obvious fresh fruits and vegetables) are packaged and processed. Many use GMO soy, corn, and canola.

A diet our bodies have evolved to eat-Omnivores frequently point out that even though we can find super healthy almost vegans like the Okinawans, the Hunza, and others, in reality they incorporated some small amounts of animal products. 99.9% of humans have eaten an omnivorous diet, and so they contend it only makes sense to continue eating an omnivorous diet

A healthy omega 6/omega 3 ratio- a ratio historically around 1 to 1, in the American diet today it is closer to 15 to 1. Not only that, but it has been proven time and again that the higher the ratio of omega 6 poly unsaturated fatty acids in your diet, the more prone you are to inflammation and a host of illnesses 3). Most omega 3s are readily found in animal products, although this is not exclusively so.

Our modern bodies function better with higher fat/lower carb-Meat barely has any carbohydrates naturally in it. Meat is composed of protein and fat. Considering we are now finding that sugar and excess carbohydrates can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dental cavities, and a host of other health concerns, the omnivore arugment stresses more fat and less carbohydrates. Not to mention the fact fat is a more efficient fuel for the body. You need less of it to get the same amount of energy and it burns slower. This seems to make animal products as good choices of maintaining a good macronutrient ratio.

Avoid processed food-bags of chips, cookies, pretzels, oreos, “fruit flavored” snacks, ready to eat microwaveable meals, the list is endless. It is usually said to do the majority of your shopping on the outside of the grocery store, where the fruits, vegetables, and meat (all fresh) are located. The above mentioned are all concentrated somewhere inbetween these things.

What has value in the vegetarian argument? (step 1 and 2)

Consideration of animals as sentient beings- The United States realized the treatment of lower class citizens, aka slaves, was inhumane and rightfully stopped in the 19th century. Women were given more equal rights in the beginning of the 20th century. The reality is this forward progress on inhumane treatment of sentient beings, not just humans, will not stop any time soon. Take one look at how a cow is treated on a typical cow farm and we defy you to not see it in the context of slavery, oppression and gross inhumane conduct. The most progressive stance one could take to not support the inhumanity is to not use the animals for consumption at all, which is called veganism. A more middle of the road stance, lacto-vegetarian, is to not eat the flesh at all but consume dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians eat exclusively vegan except eggs. Pescetarians are vegan with the exception of some seafood. You can mix and match as needed to match where you are on the spectrum of respecting animals.

Avoidance of disease causing foods- Vegetarians are many times admittedly looking for nutiritional reasons to support their ethical choice to not consume animal proucts. Therefore, a mix of reasonable evidence with correlations-used-as-evidence is seen in their reasons for avoiding some animal products. Some of the reasoning includes, but is not limited to; Pork is dirty, beef linked as correlation in colorectal cancer 4), all good research that supports eating eggs is funded by the egg industry 5), America eats a lot of meat and the average American is fat and unhealthy, therefore we should eat less meat, too much fat leads to heart disesase, we shouldn't eat too much dietary cholesterol because too much cholesterol causes disease, we shouldn't eat too much fat and animal products are fatty, processed meats are linked to a host of health concerns 6), too much dairy consumption linked with osteoporosis 7), to name a few.

It's the best ecological option- The Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that sprawl throughout the countryside are one of the worst ecological disasters still implemented without reform to this date. They use an awful lot of water, they pollute the local ground water, they pollute the air, and they basically ignore all natural systems that exist in the omnivore relationship 8). You have to grow food to feed animals in CAFOs…when you could just feed humans first. In a world of saving energy, that is energy stupid.

Quality of ingredients- Considering the aforementioned hell holes known as CAFOs, who would want to put that in your body? If it's in the grocery store and it doesn't have certifications like free range, cruelty free, or let's say cow web cams to prove proper treatment and health, then you better know why they aren't telling you.

Our bodies function better with a lower fat intake and higher carb intake- Joel Fuhrman, Jon Barron, Dr. McDougall, John Robbins, Dean Ornish, and most of the vegetarian gurus out there take this approach to health. In its most extreme form we see it as the 80/10/10 diet, or 80% of your macronutrients coming from plant carbohydrates, then 10% from fat, and 10% from protein.

Compare and Contrast (step 3 and 4)

In the following section, we broken down the macro arguments for omnivory and vegetarianism into micro arugments that can stand in their own right. Indeed, if you read only one side of the micro arguments, a unsuspecting reader without a critical mindset could be immediately swayed to just believe the argument they have read! But a more critical approach not only considers both macroarguments, but considers each and every microargument on its own. When we do this, we can create new vectors (or dimensions) to our question of whether or not to eat meat. This creates a much more meaningful discussion then simply hearing the talking points of the meat eaters and the vegetarians one more time.

For instance, notice how both omnivores and vegetarians want to avoid disease causing food and are propelled towards fresh food. The best of the meat advocates out there condemn processed meats, advocate a balance of organ and flesh meats, picket the CAFOs in favor of free range and humanely raised animals, and the indentify too much *pasteurized* milk as a bad thing 9). These positions acknowledge the truth of the vegetarian side while upgrading their own position! It's a win-win!

Just becuase the other side is right doesn't mean you are (completely) wrong

The question of ecological sustainability is another interesting one. The vegetarians seem to have a slam dunk case, particularly when refering to the dreaded CAFOs. Indeed, no meat eating guru adovcates for the CAFOs and everyone can condemn them for the travesty that they are. In the past few decades, meat eaters have not cared where there carcass comes from as long as it's sitting nice and pretty in the grocery store refrigerated section. Now the vegetarian argument has forced self respecting and critical thinking omnivores to add another dimension to the way they eat; where does their food come? Now healthy omnivores are closely tied to the locavore movement, encouraging everyone to get to know their butcher and the farm from which their animal came from. They want to see that the farm has a small, manageable amount of animals. They want to know the farmer is using methods in harmony with the ecosystem around it. In short, they have taken every aspect that is awful in the CAFOs and found a way to support farms who do the opposite harmonious actions. While vegans will still snort their snouts at this “success”, it nevertheless spells an end to CAFOs once and for all. While some will score this as vegetarians 1, omnivores 0, the reality is that the omnivore macroagrument could get stronger should we all see the victory of the last CAFO dismantled and replaced by Smart Pasture Operations (SPOs), which are small farms that run in harmony with nature. The strongest of vegans recognize this and they condemn minor gains in the animal welfare front because it actually makes their end goal harder to achieve.

Notice how the vegetarian argument of how shitastically awful the CAFOs changes the argument forever. No one can represent meat eating and still condone eating meat from these sad, sad places. However, the meat eating position has gained clarity in identifying a value reflecting from the vegetarians position. They now see the value of sourcing the food from farmers who care about their food as a life form, not as a product. The omnivrores now have quite the counter position with SPOs being the antithesis of CAFOs. All is not lost by omnivores noting the truth in the vegetarian argument. Indeed, everybody wins when we flex our views to better reflect reality, particularly a reality with integrity.

Omega 3 pointer for the omnivores

Most vegetarian gurus concede that getting omega 3 fatty acids is much easier through a diet of meat eating that solely plant eating 10). Considering the scientific data suggests health benefits from consuming a proper omega 3/omega 6 ratio, some people who found themselves in the vegetarian camp decided to “flex” their position to represent a healthy choice, and they include a small amount of seafood in their diet plans for obtaining satisfactory omega 3 11).

Here is where the flexitarian position was born and we are now extrapolating it into a larger philosophy. So you have chosen to be vegetarian for many of the reasons listed above and probably more. But when scientific information comes your way to tell you that fish has a super benefical nutrient inside it AND its the best source for it, doesn't it make sense to amend your position? Do not get lost in the fact that you are conceding a point to the other side, because if the point is valid then ignoring it will only cause more harm than good.

A perfect example of the necessity of the Third Way

There are some points the two sides disagree on. Generally speaking, the omnivores endorse eating more fat and less carbs in comparison to vegetarians. A fascinating area for scientists to continue doing research on is how our bodies are best designed to take in food, physiologically speaking. Each side thinks the science DEFINITELY points in their direction. But even more interesting in the exploration of this micro argument about nutrient ratios is the fact that each side also has heterodox positions. David Wolfe can be considered one of the most widely read and watched vegan nutritional guru of the 21st century. He admits that through personal experimentation, his ieal diet is high fat, moderate protein, and low carb, in direct contradistinction to the mainstream vegetarian view 12). Dr. Mercola, a internet famous Doctor of Osteopathic medicine who is most definitely a meat eater, advocates the research of William Walcott and the Metabolic Typing Diet. This diet suggests the incredible flexitarian position that each individual's metabolism fits into three main categories; protein type, carb type, and a mixture of the two. Thus, Mercola admits that while he is of the same type as David Wolfe, there can be people out there who do will with 80/10/10. Indeed, these two kingpins of their respective arguments make the case that the high carb/low fat and high fat/low carb dichotomy is FALSE and in dire need of a Third Way.

Don't fall for the false dilemma (steps 5 an 6)

How can we see shifts in macro thought that come from a reappraisal of micro positions?

Take note of David Wolfe, the infamous vegan guru who has held a steady public position on the importance of being raw vegan. In an interview he was questioned as to whether long term raw veganism can be healthy when he have so few examples of such. His response reflects a flexitarian attitude despite not removing his position of raw veganism. In it he states directly, ”…[Is] the raw vegan diet for everybody? Probably not. I think the main thing we have to look at is commitment to educating oneself and metabolism.” 13) He goes on to acknowledge the fact that raw veganism in its pure form has very little to no long term examples. The best way for his position to stand its ground is to ackowledge the difficulty in keeping up the diet for the long term and the fact that people tend to fall off after a number of years. But in acknowledging the challenges, he goes on to state that there are ways we can creatively find the plant sources an extend their raw vegan lifestyle further than otherwise possible. By getting out of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes paradigm and stepping into “sprouts, grasses, cultured foods, super-foods, supplements”, David concedes the difficulty of his iet in the traditional paradigm, an brings people into a new vector of thought where his paradigm is more likely to succeed. 14)

While it is true he is admitting raw veganism may not be for everyone, he is proving his grouning in reality more so than “being weak” in his position. Flexitarianism is not about being weak and giving in. It is about staying present in objective reality and creating our positions from that reality.

I encourage you to see how positions flex as necessary. I couldn't possibly highlight all of them. One obvious example is the noticeable shift in discussion for meat eating. The one dimensional approach “meat is good” for you requires some shifting for that statement to be true. You need to eat animals from SPOs and not CAFOs (which involves a host of caveats). You need to balance your eating of flesh with organs like the liver, kidney, heart, brain, and eyes. So the true answer needs to flex to the micro positions that are demonstrably true below. If it doesn't flex to the positions below, we have a disharmony between above and below and that shows a misrepresentation of reality.

Other oddities

It is interesting to note that while the omnivores look to our evolutionary history and say “look, this is what we have eaten to some degree or another for all time”, the vegetarians say the exact same thing…the only difference being an emphasis on “to some degree or another”. Vegetarians like to point out the incredible variety of plant/animal ratios that existed in healthy indigenous cultures ((, from the meat dominant Native Americans and Eskimos to the basically vegan (or dare i say flexitarian? :D ) Hunza and Okinawan peoples. It is this evolutionary history of radically different diets that leads vegetarians to conclude that EVEN IF it is true that it is healthier to eat a omnivorous diet today, our dietary flexibility suggests that within a few generations that can change.

Back to square one

Are you an omnivore or a vegetarian? That question is one dimensional and could be expanded in many different avenues of meaning. Each person will do this process and it is not expected that everyone will come to the same answer. I cannot give these answers on this topic for steps 5 and 6. If you break down the arugment for each side and consider what is valuable to both, you can create a Third Way that incorporates the value as best as possible. That is all we care about when we hold a position in something. It's the value behind the position that is the most important. When those needs for value are met by the novel third solution, why hold on to old beliefs? Perhaps there are vectors to consider if keeping the old position makes sense, but at least now your current position is informed from many different dimensions and angles or perspective, producing a well rounded position as opposed to a flat one.

The Third Way system is valuable as a tool for intellectual investigation of political false dilemmas. We used this food option (despite it not being a question in U.S. politics currently) because the flexitarian position was birthed out of that false dilemma. But it's application is most useful for political arguments. The next time you here an either/or position, now you will know what to do. Indeed, one day the steps will become intuitive and you will not even have to refer to this list anymore. You can hear and understand both sides of the argument, distill the ideas that make up that argument, come to understand each one on its own, allow the new understandings to create extra dimensions of complexity, adjust your macro argument as needed, and then have a refreshing conversation outside of flatland.

So do you want this juicy article in paper or plastic?


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