Can’t find the Middle East on a map? Here’s why.
Invented in 1902 by an American, the 'Middle East' is all over the place.
- If the Middle East is easier to find in the news than on the map, there's a good reason for that.
- The term is a fairly recent invention with myriad definitions and applications.
- In some versions, it extends further west than Ireland and as far north as Copenhagen.
(Not) finding Iran
At the start of January, as America's assassination of Iran's general Qasem Soleimani brought the two countries to the brink of war, there it was again: proof that most Americans can't find their #1 foreign enemy on a world map.
Asked to locate Iran on a blind map, only 28% of registered American voters surveyed were able to place a dot inside its borders.
- While many picked a location in neighboring Iraq—a forgivable mistake—or stayed in the vicinity of the Islamic Republic, many others strayed much further from their intended target.
- The map shows the Balkans peppered with dots, with various countries in North Africa getting their share.
- The furthest guesses landed as far apart (and away from Iran) as Ireland and Sri Lanka.
It's an easy and oft-repeated trick: previous versions of the 'Most Americans can't find' map feature North Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. The subtext is not hard to fathom, and the cause of much sniggering in the rest of the world: Americans are dumb; too dumb to trust with the firepower that comes with being a superpower.
That is of course not true, or at least not proven by these maps. What they do prove is that many Americans are unfamiliar with world geography. A similar survey some years ago showed that one in five Americans were unable to locate the United States itself on a world map.
While that may sound shocking to those who value geo-literacy, it is questionable whether citizens of other countries would do any better. Perhaps they're just not asked these questions because the likelihood of a shooting war with a faraway, non-neighboring country is rather smaller in, say, Austria or Botswana.
Suez to Singapore, via the Persian Gulf
Suez to Singapore: the original 'Middle East', as conceived by Alfred T. Mahan.
Image: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
With Iran's location on the map up for scrutiny, a much more interesting question surfaces about the region in which it is usually included: Where is the Middle East? That may seem like a strange query for a conflict zone that has dominated global news headlines for the better part of a century. But as these maps show, the definition and the borders of what we think of as the 'Middle East' are quite changeable and have evolved over time.
As the term itself indicates, the 'Middle East' lies somewhere halfway between the 'Near East' and the 'Far East'. The 'here' in that assumption is Europe, and more specifically Britain. 'Middle East' is of more recent coinage than its two adjacent denominations, and of surprising origin. The term was invented in 1902 by an American.
Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914) served as a naval officer on the Union side during the Civil War, later rising to the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy. After his retirement, he became a lecturer and historian of naval strategy, gaining worldwide renown with The Influence of Sea Power Upon History (1890) and following books on the topic. His thinking was influential on the development of the pre-WWI naval strategies of the U.S., Britain, France, Japan and Germany.
In an article in the National Review titled 'The Persian Gulf and International Relations', Mahan used the term 'Middle East' to designate an area along the sea route from Suez to Singapore, including the Persian Gulf. The route was of critical importance for the then British Empire and Mahan urged the British to strengthen their naval power in the area for just that reason.
Mahan's proposal of the term 'Middle East' found wider purchase when it was picked up by Valentine Chirol, writing for The Times.
- In 1903, Chirol published The Middle Eastern Question, in which he defined the Middle East as "those regions of Asia which extend to the borders of India or command the approaches of India, and which are consequently bound up with the problems of Indian political as well as military defense;" i.e. the shores of the Persian Gulf, plus the rest of Iraq and Iran, Afghanistan, and even Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan; as well as Kashmir.
When Kenya was in the 'Middle East'
Mirages of the Middle East: Chirol, 1903 (top left), the Royal Geographic Society, 1920 (top right), the RAF, 1939 (bottom left) and British army's Middle East Command, 1942 (bottom right).
Images: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
- In 1920, Britain's Royal Geographic Society attempted to codify the term, taking the Bosporus as the divider between the 'Near East' (i.e. the Balkans; in blue) and the 'Middle East' (Turkey to Afghanistan, all the way down to Yemen, and everywhere in between; in red).
- In the years leading up to WWII, the Royal Air Force conceived of the 'Middle East' as an entirely different place: it was the land bridge from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean formed by Egypt, Sudan and Kenya. All lands under British dominion, providing a safe air corridor between Europe and Britain's possessions further east.
- A few years later, during WWII itself, Britain's 'Middle East Air Command' expanded that definition to include all the countries in the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia), the port possession of Aden (the red dot in Yemen), the countries stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to India (Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, Iraq and Iran), plus Libya and… Greece. That jars with today's conception of the Middle East, but it made sense from an operational point of view during the war.
A contiguous 'Middle East'
A more contiguous 'Middle East', as defined by the Brits after WWII.
Image: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
By 1952, the official British definition of the 'Middle East' was 'cleaned up'. Henceforth, the concept stood for a geographically contiguous (if not culturally homogenous) region.
Out went Greece and Kenya, at the northern and southern extremities. In came the countries of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen) and Afghanistan.
Oh, and look: Cyprus is in there as well—not unimportantly, as Britain had (and still has) two major military bases in the island, which have often been used since then for British military operations in the region.
Various definitions of the region, all including the nations of the Arabian Peninsula, most excluding Israel.
Image: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
Various international organizations have widely different definitions of the 'Middle East'. Some examples, all from 2005:
To prevent the dilution of international labour standards by 'regionalism', the International Labour Organization (ILO) preferred to organize its regional offices for entire continents. Yet in 1985, the ILO created a regional office for the Arab states which by 2005 covered the countries shown on the map top left (in yellow).
These countries are still treated as part of the Asian department when regional conferences are convened. As is often the case with international organizations, Israel is excluded from the regional grouping in order to avoid acrimony and instead is added to 'Europe'.
The ILO definition of the 'Middle East' is one of the narrowest, excluding Egypt, Turkey, Iran and lands beyond. It is also the most consistent, as it overlaps entirely with the areas covered by other organizations, widely varying as their extremities may be.
On the map top right, the countries in darker blue are part of the 'Near East' region of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) when it comes to council elections. The FAO's definition of the region is wider when it comes to its activities and projects, in which case it also includes the countries in lighter blue (incl. Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Mauritania).
In 1957, the World Bank replaced its department for Asia and the Middle East with three new departments: for the Far East, South Asia and the Middle East. In 1967, the latter was enhanced with the countries of North Africa, creating the MENA region (Middle East/North Africa). In 1968, the departments for MENA and Europe merged (EMENA), only to be re-divided, into Europe and Central Asia and, again, MENA—stretching from Morocco to Iran, and from Syria to Djibouti (map bottom left).
In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the 'Eastern Mediterranean' as one of its six global regions. It extended from Greece east to Pakistan (not including Afghanistan) and south to Yemen (not including Oman). In Africa, it took in Egypt, the Tripolitania area of present-day Libya, and the countries of the Horn.
By 2005 (as shown on the map bottom right), Greece and Turkey had been transferred to 'Europe'; and Ethiopia, Eritrea and Algeria to 'Africa' in 1977. Morocco had preferred to remain in 'Europe', and was transferred to the 'Eastern Mediterranean' only in 1986. Oman and Afghanistan have now also been added to the 'Eastern Mediterranean'. Israel joined the WHO in 1949, but met with non-cooperation in the 'Eastern Mediterranean'. It was transferred to 'Europe' in 1985.
When east is west
Evolution of the State Department's definition of the 'Near East'.
Image: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
After the Brits had relegated the term 'Near East' to the Balkans as a prelude to forgetting about it altogether, the Americans decided to adopt it for their own official use.
- In 1944, the U.S. State Department's Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs had three divisions (top map).
- The African one (in yellow) covered all of Africa, minus Algeria (supposedly considered part of France, hence 'European') and Egypt.
- Egypt was part of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (in blue), which covered an area from Greece to Turkey and Iraq, and the entire Arabian Peninsula.
- To the east lay the area covered by the Division of Middle Eastern Affairs (in red): from Iran to Burma, and everything in between.
- In 1948, presumably after (and because of) the independence of India and Pakistan, the State Department renamed the division covering region from Afghanistan to Burma the Division of South Asian Affairs. Sudan was moved from African to Near Eastern Affairs. Greece, Turkey and Iran were shoehorned in the new Division of Greek, Turkish and Iranian Affairs.
- In 1992, the State Department divided the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs in two. The new Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs jettisoned Sudan (which reverted back to the African desk), but absorbed Iran and the remaining nations of North Africa. Curiously including Morocco, which is more to the west than Ireland, into the 'Near East'.
Scholars tend to take a maximalist approach to the 'Middle East'.
Image: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
Scholarly approaches in the U.S. to what constitutes the 'Middle East' tend to be maximalist but show interesting variations nonetheless.
Founded in 1946 in Washington DC, the Middle East Institute (MEI) aims to increase knowledge of the Middle East among Americans, and to promote understanding between people from both places. In the very first issue of its Middle East Journal (1947), it printed this map as its definition of the 'Middle East' (map top left).
- In Africa: Morocco to Somalia and all the countries in between, including Ethiopia.
- The 'middle' Middle East: everywhere from Turkey down to and including the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasian countries (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan).
- Places further east: Not just entire countries—Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India—but also the Muslim-influenced parts of Central Asia that were then part of the Soviet Union and China.
In 2005, the Middle East Journal published this revised map of the 'Middle East' (map top right).
- In Africa, it now includes Mauritania—but not the Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco. No longer included: Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
- Djibouti is the only country in the Horn of Africa that's still on board.
- Further east, India (and Bangladesh) have been left out, as have the Muslim areas of eastern China. The 'Middle East' has expanded north to include all formerly Soviet Central Asian state, up to and including Kazakhstan—meaning the Middle East extends to about the same latitude as Copenhagen.
The current website of the Middle East Institute offers a slightly different take: plus Western Sahara, minus South Sudan and Djibouti, minus the Caucasian republics, and apparently minus the Central Asian states.
In 1970, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in its International Journal of Middle East Studies defined its geographical area of interest (map bottom left) to include "the countries of the Arab world from the seventh century to modern times".
Also included: territories which were "part of Middle Eastern empires or were under influence of Middle Eastern Civilization," such as the Iberian Peninsula, the Balkans, up to central and southern Ukraine, the entire Caucasus area and significant areas of Central Asia, up to Pakistan.
In 2000, MESA updated its geographical scope, expanding it into the northern part of present-day India (map bottom right).
Poetry over politics
**maybe she’s born with it**— Ted Bey (@TedBey) January 10, 2020
**maybe it’s the Arab world** pic.twitter.com/tlG2l4LJcz
Except for the very first image, all the maps in this post are from a Twitter thread by Amro Ali, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo. Replying to the various cartographic definitions, someone responded with an image that literally personifies the region: Arab Lady, her hair the shape of the Arab world. (In fact, coterminous with the member states of the Arab League).
And you can't argue with Arab Lady, because poetry of place always wins against the prose of politics.
Strange Maps #1007
Many thanks to Robert Capiot for pointing me to Mr Ali's maps.
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Map turns San Francisco Bay Area into the Middle East - Big Think ›
- A Real Map of the Middle East - Big Think ›
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.
Taking control of bad luck<p>According to <a href="https://themanifest.com/accounting/budgeting-money-tips-for-millennials" target="_blank">a recent survey by The Manifest</a>, a business news website, millennials agree with Cramer. The study found that, of millennials surveyed, their largest expenses were housing (66 percent), educational expenses (9 percent), and health insurance (6 percent). In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials are using the remaining 19 percent of their paychecks to budget and increase their savings.</p><p>About a third of millennials said they are saving more money in response to the pandemic and creating new budgets for themselves. In fact, of all generations surveyed, millennials felt the most comfortable creating personal budgets. They were also willing to think critically and adjust budgets to match financial changes, both signs that this highly-educated generation is willing to learn and adapt.</p><p>Millennials still have a rough road ahead, though. According to the survey, about half of millennials make less than $50,000 a year. That puts them into the upper-lower or lower-middle <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/23/are-you-in-the-american-middle-class/#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20national%20middle,(incomes%20in%202018%20dollars)." target="_blank">income class</a>, depending on where in the country they live. That matches <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/time-use-of-millennials-and-nonmillennials.htm#:~:text=Among%20full%2Dtime%20wage%20and,with%2031%20percent%20of%20nonmillennials." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">BLS data</a>, which shows millennials earning less than older non-millennials. <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/beyond-bls/the-kids-are-alright-millennials-and-the-economy.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The BLS also notes</a> that while millennials have less debt than GenXers, most of that is student loan debt rather than mortgages.</p><p>And despite their budgetary plans, only 11 percent of millennials surveyed were able to stay within budget, while uncertainty still looms in the future job market.<em></em></p><p>With all this said, there are caveats to The Manifest survey. It hosted a relatively small sample size, only surveying 502 Americans. Of those, millennials made up 22 percent of respondents. They weren't even the largest cohort in the study. That was the baby boomers at 32 percent. </p><p>This makes the survey more suggestive than indicative. But the suggestion is that millennials, to borrow a phrase from writer Vicki Robin, are ready to reinterpret their relationship with finances.</p>
A push for financial freedom<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a463513bfbe5a2b7d5bcc59f8be265a7"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J-B-b393epk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While budgeting and financial savvy have always been important, the millennial generation will need to be far more critical of their relationship with the economy. What <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_tDthUWsVM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Robin calls the old roadmap</a>—the idea that "growth is good, more is better, game over"—is unlikely to support millennials as it did past generations. They'll need a new roadmap, charting both a new macro (the relationship between our economic and ecological footprints, for example) and micro (our individual relationships with money).</p><p>Because the macro is a whole other article, we'll stick with the micro here:</p><p><strong>1) Track and cut your spending</strong></p><p>The first step to financial freedom is to track your spending and cut unnecessary purchases. For Robin, these are often the things, services, and subscriptions that we buy out of habit, but we no longer consider whether they add value to our lives.</p><p>A pernicious modern example is the subscription economy. We subscribe to services for food, clothes, television, exercise, self-help, video games, bric-a-brac, computer programs, and on and on. These services quickly fade into the financial background as just another bill we pay. </p><p>But if we watch Netflix nine times out of ten, why pay for Hulu and Disney+ and HBO Max and CBS All access? Instead, every month or so, we should scrutinize our subscriptions to ask whether they still add value to our lives. If they don't, unsubscribe.</p><p><strong>2) Kill your debt</strong></p><p>Debt doesn't just take away money we could save elsewhere; it's also a self-replicating devourer of wealth. Your debt interest rates are almost certainly higher than your investment returns, especially on credit cards. Because of this, no matter your saving rituals, you're likely bleeding wealth the longer you remain in debt.</p><p>Instead, focus on removing debt from your life. Again, credit card debt especially. The good news is that most companies have hardship programs to help debtors. You can call them to see if they can lower your interest rates or provide other helpful services.</p><p>"Financial accommodations are generally readily available right now," Amy Thomann, the head of consumer credit education at TransUnion, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/29/at-home/manage-finances-save-money-millennials-coronavirus.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told the New York Times</a><u>.</u> "Lenders, just like consumers, understand the hardships that are going on in the economy."</p><p><strong>3) Have an emergency fund</strong></p><p>Of course, you'll need some savings when the unexpected happens. Say—I don't know—a worldwide pandemic? Experts like Robin and Thomann recommend people have three to six months' worth of expenses on reserve. These should be in liquid assets so you can access them easily and quickly.</p><p>Of course, that's not always feasible, but you should save what you can. </p><p><strong>4) Find social outlets that don't cost</strong></p><p>The economic shutdown has offered one financial boon: It has revealed ways we can enjoy each other's company with overspending. We can host movies remotely with our friends. Play video games online. Enjoy physical-distance strolls through the park. And a host of other creative connections. After the pandemic, the occasional bar hop or Friday dinner out can still be a guilty pleasure. But unlike sitcom characters, we shouldn't be spending our social lives on the set of our favorite coffee shops or local watering holes.</p><p><strong>5) Reconsider your relationship with money</strong></p><p>Robin pushes her readers to be financially free. That is, to understand that there's an economy, people have a relationship with it, but it shouldn't become an obsession that runs their lives. As <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDaBjc4QyWU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">she told <em>Big Think</em></a>: "It's like there are so many presumptions that drive us into wage [slavery], and it doesn't matter whether you are at the low end or the high end. If you are engaged in that sort of anxious process of 'more, more, more,' you are not free."</p><p>The millennial generation has certainly been dealt a bum hand, but it's perhaps defeatist, and more than a little premature, to label them the unluckiest generation. Perhaps after being led astray by the old roadmap, they will be the generation to reconsider their relationship with money—not as an end itself but a means to a healthier and more beneficial life. </p>
Your health and the health of the planet are not indistinguishable.
- Transitioning to a plant-based diet could help reduce obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
- Humans are destroying entire ecosystems to perpetuate destructive food habits.
- Understanding how to properly transition to a plant-based diet is important for success.
Richard Dawkins: No Civilized Person Accepts Slavery So Why Do We Accept Animal Cruelty? | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c09f23c34faacc8ec55aba054fae9c7c"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_4SnBCPzBl0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Get your hands dirty—in the kitchen</h3><p>Quarantine offered an entire world the opportunity to get into the kitchen and put on a chef's apron. Complaints about "not enough time" are the biggest barriers to preparing home-cooked meals. Of course, pandemic fatigue has resulted in a number of recent chefs ordering out more. That said, this is the perfect time to try your hand at new dishes. With infection rates <a href="https://www.vox.com/coronavirus-covid19/2020/10/11/21511641/covid-19-us-cases-update-testing-deaths-hospitalizations" target="_blank">increasing across the country</a>, stocking up on seasonal vegetables is a great idea. </p><p>Simple seasonal ways to begin your plant-based exploration include <a href="https://nomnompaleo.com/post/11136213353/roasted-kabocha-squash" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roasted kabocha squash</a>, <a href="https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/no-chop-pumpkin-soup/seblnp2r?r=recipes/collections/autumnrecipes&c=f3bf723a-05a7-487d-bd4b-5bc8af042ca9/autumn%20recipes%20you%27ll%20fall%20in%20love%20with" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bombay potatoes</a>, and <a href="https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/no-chop-pumpkin-soup/seblnp2r?r=recipes/collections/autumnrecipes&c=f3bf723a-05a7-487d-bd4b-5bc8af042ca9/autumn%20recipes%20you%27ll%20fall%20in%20love%20with" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no-chop pumpkin soup</a>. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, <a href="https://www.thecuriouschickpea.com/masoor-dal-tadka/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Masoor Dal Tadka</a> will keep you warm into the winter months. A delicious <a href="https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a23362341/sweet-potato-salad-recipe/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sweet potato salad</a> will never fail you. This <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahloewentheil/easy-meatless-monday-recipes" target="_blank">round-up of 25 vegetarian recipes</a> will keep you busy for a few months (or a month if you're ambitious). </p><h3>Educate yourself on the benefits</h3><p>Education is essential for beginning any endeavor. Weeding through propaganda and bunk science to find credible evidence of any diet is difficult, though many experts agree that for individual and societal health, a plant-based diet is key. </p><p>Even vegetarianism has its pitfalls. For example, <a href="https://michaelpollan.com/books/cooked/" target="_blank">one-fifth of all calories</a> consumed by Americans come from nutritionally-worthless white flour. If you're eating processed bread every day, you're missing out on the benefits of a rich and varied diet. </p><p>Many of the "<a href="https://www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/media/Factsheet4.pdf?ua=1" target="_blank">diseases of affluence</a>," such as cardiovascular and obesity-related ailments, originate with a poor diet (and lack of exercise). Meat has been an essential component of the human diet throughout our evolution. Today, we eat too much of it—and too much of it is produced in factory farms. Transitioning to a plant-based diet could help cut down on carbon emissions and the aforementioned diseases. </p><p>Plants are full of valuable phytochemicals and antioxidants that support a <a href="https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/5-benefits-of-a-plant-based-diet.h20-1592991.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">strong immune system</a>. A (non-processed) plant-based diet reduces inflammation and offers plenty of fiber. It has been shown to reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart diseases. Those are all great reasons to transition. </p><h3>Begin your journey with a single step</h3><p>Going cold turkey rarely works for addicts. The same is true of diets. If you're interested in a plant-based diet, try to eat veg every other day for a few weeks. Notice how your body reacts on days you eat this way compared to other days. Gradually phase out meat products. Attempt meat-free weekdays and see if your craving for meat persists on the weekend. Try using meat as a garnish instead of the main course. </p><p>More importantly, have a replacement plan. Dropping all meat products to consume frozen dinners isn't the best course of action. Filling your cart with bags of foods you've never eaten before will overwhelm you. Prepare meals as you taper off of meat; arm yourself with a broad knowledge of healthy plants and vegetables. At some point, you might forget what you've been missing. </p>
Photo: anaumenko / Adobe Stock<h3>Start with foods you already love</h3><p>The good news is that you likely have a number of plant-based side and main dishes that you love. Transitioning into a new diet requires a certain level of enjoyment. Otherwise, you're going to loathe eating, and eating should bring some level of satisfaction. </p><p>Try a one-to-one ratio to begin. On one night, cook a meal you love. Then try something completely new the next night. Follow that up with old faithful. This way, you constantly have new dishes to look forward to yet don't get stuck in thinking you have to be creative every single day. You'll likely find some winners and decide not to repeat other dishes. Regardless, you'll have a broader menu to work from. </p><h3>Avoid ingredients you can't pronounce</h3><p>The produce section of your grocery store provides almost everything you need to survive. You can likely pronounce every ingredient in this section. There's a vast difference between food and foodstuffs. Plenty of plant-based companies offer too much of the latter. Potato chips are technically vegetarian, and some use simple ingredients, yet it's easy to fill your cart with foodstuffs. The health benefits of this are not only negligible but potentially dangerous. </p><p>Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/news/20191104/are-there-health-downsides-to-vegetarian-diets" target="_blank">explains</a>. "If you eat a vegan diet, but eat a lot of french fries, refined carbs like white bread, white rice, that's not healthy." He suggests "emphasizing fruits and vegetables. Not fruit juice but whole food. And nuts."</p><h3>Utilize the wisdom of the internet—but don't get indoctrinated</h3><p>There's a lot of terrible advice—and worse, propaganda—on the internet. While you likely don't want to eat eggs every day, they're not "toxic," as one popular documentary claims. Eggs are <a href="https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-eggs" target="_blank">one of the best</a> low-cost, high-value foods around. </p><p>Read websites like <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/scientific-benefits-following-plant-based-diet/" target="_blank">Everyday Health</a>, which uses clear language, like "may improve" and "may decrease," with links to credible studies. This way you follow the going science without becoming fanatical about a particular diet or being disappointed if it turns out the research doesn't hold up. Good science evolves with evidence. And right now, the evidence points to more vegetables in our diets. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>