In Praise of Plain Food

An ode to oatmeal and other outcasts

Pax Ahimsa Gethen
4 min readOct 20


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.

One of my favorite meals is oatmeal made with old-fashioned rolled or steel-cut oats, fruit, nuts, and a splash of soymilk. My usual fruits are apples or bananas with dates and walnuts, and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. I’ll sometimes use peaches or strawberries when they’re in season. Paired with my beloved Irish Breakfast tea, it makes for a hearty, satisfying breakfast.

I also love eating plain baked yams (garnet or Japanese) with spinach, and brown rice with broccoli and cashews. (Having eaten primarily long-grain brown rice for years, I definitely prefer it to white; even the aroma while it’s cooking is lovely.) I can make these meals without spending a lot of time in the kitchen; I use our microwave, toaster oven, and rice cooker, and make extra helpings for eating throughout the week.

I don’t only eat whole grains and tubers; especially when my spouse cooks, we often have pasta, salads, tofu scrambles, and other dishes. But oats, yams, potatoes, and brown rice are my preferred staple foods.



Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their.,