Dear Annie: From the time you are born, your parents and elders tell you to always tell the truth. When you go to school, your teachers tell you the same. And then when you enter the real world, you find that if you tell the truth, you are labeled a -- well, a word too rude to print in the newspaper. You are considered rude and opinionated. That's because nobody actually likes the truth. We would rather be lied to. Everybody lies on a daily basis, and we are OK with it. So why don't we teach our children to lie, keep secrets and play political games right from the start? That way, by the time they enter the real world, they would be experts at it and fit right in. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. -- True Lies
Dear True Lies: We should not teach our children to be mini Machiavellis. Manipulators might slither to some "success," but they forfeit personal integrity, honor and the chance to have any meaningful relationships. No one truly respects a phony.
Reading between the lines of your letter, I get the impression that you recently told someone something that you simply considered a fact and the person reacted poorly, and I also get the impression this wasn't the first time. If you're somebody who's found himself saying "What? I'm just telling it like it is!" throughout your life, you may be confusing criticism with honesty. There is a difference. A good general rule is not to offer your opinion on other people's business unless they ask for it.
Dear Annie: Most people say they care about our planet and the humans and animals living on it. So what can you do to make the biggest positive impact? The answer may surprise some readers: Switch to a plant-based diet. Not to discount the value of biking to work, recycling or buying less plastic, but here are just a few key facts:
Producing 1 pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons of water, whereas producing 1 pound of soybeans requires 216 gallons of water. Many other vegetables and grains require even less.
It takes 27 times more fossil fuel to deliver a calorie's worth of beef to your plate than it takes to deliver a calorie's worth of beans.
Because most chickens are factory farmed (and approximately 9 billion chickens are killed each year in the United States alone), our environment is contaminated by microbial pathogens, feed additives and manure production, affecting both human and animal health.
This type of information -- and much more -- has been reported in major media outlets, such as CNN, the Los Angeles Times and National Geographic, and can be found in science and ecology journals. Readers should check out the facts for themselves.
Many people seem to think that becoming a vegetarian is still some sort of fringe choice for granola crunchers or that it's too difficult to get your kids or your parents to eat new foods. Or it won't fit into "traditional" meals or occasions throughout the year. Or you just won't find enough to eat in restaurants, in airports or even at your company's summer picnic. Well, all of these concerns can be met with the great variety and flexibility in food stores and on menus these days. And if you don't see a veggie meal, simply ask.
One final suggestion: If you cannot imagine giving up meat or dairy, just try doing so for one day per week. Then try two. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, as even some reduction in consumption will help. -- Earthling Who Cares
Dear Earthling Who Cares: Though this didn't arrive in time for Earth Day, the information is still valuable and offers some food for thought. I encourage readers who are considering going vegetarian (or trying any new diet) to first talk to their doctors.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.