In Praise of Plain Food

An ode to oatmeal and other outcasts

Pax Ahimsa Gethen
4 min readOct 20, 2023
Top-down, close-up view of old-fashioned rolled oats in a dark blue bowl.
Good old-fashioned oats. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen.

Growing up in the 1970s, the children’s show Sesame Street was a staple of my television diet. One of the muppet characters, Bert, is portrayed as square and boring compared with his fun-loving roommate, Ernie. (No, I don’t believe they are lovers, despite the insistence of some of my fellow queers.)

Bert collects bottle caps and paper clips. He also loves oatmeal.

As an adult, I can now relate to that particular passion, as oatmeal—along with potatoes, yams¹, and brown rice—is now a staple of my regular diet. To others, these starchy foods might be considered boring or even unhealthy, but to me, they are just right.

It was many years ago when I first learned from Dr. John McDougall of the benefits of a “starchivore” diet, with no added oils or animal products. As I was already mostly-vegan and loved starchy foods, this appealed to me. Whenever I have stuck closely to this way of eating, my health has improved.