I wish meat grew on trees.
It would solve all my food problems and would reduce our environmental impact more significantly than most of us could imagine.
What I want to understand is this, why do my food choices seem to affect people so personally and why have I cared for so long?
Meat and I have had an interesting relationship for many years. Let’s get this straight, I grew up eating and enjoying meat. I did though, from a young age, begin to feel a heaviness when I ate it. It started when I began to recognise that what I was eating, was in fact an animal. I love animals and have been confused about eating them for a long time, because to me, on a basic level, it makes no sense at all. Let’s be honest. There is no reason for most people in this modern western world to eat meat. Nutritionally it is possible, even easy to have a balanced and healthy diet. Too much meat even makes people sick. So why are we holding onto our harmful carnivorous ways?
I have spent the last five years swinging between vegetarian and carnivore. The main reason for my lack of vegetarian success has been habit and guilt. I have been so concerned with inconveniencing others with my vegetarianism that I have found myself, many a time, eating meals that I don’t really want to, to avoid being “a trouble”. As an (almost) vegetarian, I never really think to ask people why they eat meat, or judge them for it. Most meat eaters though, seem to ask in an accusing way (quite often) why I don’t eat it. Sometimes I get the impression that my vegetarianism is a personal affront to them. Perhaps it is.
If I want to be honest, I do think that people should care more about what they eat generally. I think people shoud be more educated as to where that food comes from. I have a big problem with the lack of responsibility people take for problems in our world. I believe that by buying factory farmed meats, by expecting low priced product, we are supporting a cruel industry and taking away from the older style “good practice” farming methods that are more sustainable and humane. I think that what we eat is a choice. When we become old enough to buy our own food, we make choices as to which industries we support. I don’t think meat eating is wrong, I think not being aware is wrong. Meat eating is not what it used to be, it’s not a natural process anymore and it is out of control. What it comes down to is our habits and traditions versus the modern factory farming reality.
My food choices have always been about how I see myself, how I see the world and how truthful I want to be with myself. I want to live, in accordance with my beliefs, in line with what I believe to be right. I want my actions to reflect and impact on what I accept and do not accept about farming industry processes.
I’m definitely not perfect and I’m still trying to find my feet. I am feeling better though, year by year, as I learn more and am able to feel my actions align with my beliefs. The more aware I become, the harder it is to turn a blind eye. My reasons for change are both ethical and emotional. They are mine alone and I have decided to stand by them. I am no longer ashamed or embarassed.
I now eat as a Vegetarian as an everyday standard. This works for me and I feel stronger and healthier for it.
Once a month, if I feel like it (and it’s looking as though I might allow some months to pass) I allow myself to celebrate a beautiful meal (with some beautiful people) that is prepared with ethically produced or caught meat. This means a celebratory traditional or meal with meaning.
I am grateful for becoming more vegetarian as it has opened my world to delicious foods that I would never have discovered. Good Vegetarian is far from eating “just vegetables”. I will share my recipes with you soon… Until then, have a look at Heidi Swansons 101 Cookbooks. It’s a beautiful catalogue of healthy, delicious vegetarian food!
Eating Animals is a great book you should read if you are interested… it will expand your horizons. This is a great debate that I could identify with. Jonathan Safran, like me had been swinging to and fro for years before finally coming to a decision on how to feed his young Son. This is not an anti-meat book, it is a factual look at pracitices and arguments from both sides of the meat camp.
What are your feelings on food and vegetarianism? Do you think before you eat? I struggle with the idea of never eating my families traditional meals again, is tradition a reason to be carnivorous?
Do you think you get what you pay for?