I’ve mentioned Amanda enough by now that I should not have use the phrase “blogging spirit guide” again, but … there ya go. Amanda writes a really creative and thought provoking blog called Tastee Pudding (where I guest posted today) on finding and living a creative life. Her idea for the Blogathon guest post day was to write about her personal food politics. I like the idea so much, I will be posting other personal food stories in the future. Amanda, thanks, for so much!
Greetings, One Per Week readers! I’m excited to be guest blogging for Katie as part of the Word Count Blogathon. Since Katie writes a lot about food, I thought I’d make that the focus of my post today.
Katie and I share similar values when it comes to food. We both buy local and organic whenever possible. We both love farmers markets, and we love cooking with ingredients we find at said markets – at this time of year, that means thick stalks of asparagus, artichokes, spring onions and a bizarre little delicacy called fiddlehead ferns.
But there’s one big way in which our eating habits are very different: I don’t eat meat.
For a long time, I was what I’ll call a “conscious carnivore” — someone who only ate meat when I knew it had been raised in a humane way. Then one day, I saw a poster that changed my mind.
Yep, a poster. I was at Jivamukti yoga studio in NYC, and as I rounded the corner after class on my way to their cafe, I came face to face with a poster by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Now, I typically avoid PETA materials — the extremism of their tactics alienates me; plus, they use imagery of suffering animals to recruit people to their cause, and images like that absolutely devastate me, so I tend to avoid them.
But there I was, face to face with this poster, and there was its message: Animals experience pain. No matter how humanely they’re raised, nor how mindfully they’re slaughtered, at the moment you kill them, they hurt.
And suddenly, I knew I couldn’t be responsible for hurting an animal.
Some might argue that I wasn’t killing the animal myself, so how was eating it the same thing as hurting it? My feeling is that by buying and consuming meat, I help create demand for it, and that demand leads to more animal killing. Not to mention, on a spiritual level, I can’t enjoy eating something when just looking at it makes me think of pain.
I’ve never written about this before – my decision to become a vegetarian – and my intention is not to “guilt” anyone into giving up meat. I respect that we all make different choices with regard to what we put in our bodies, and why. I’m just sharing why I made this decision for myself.
I officially gave up meat on January 1, 2007. In those first few months, I found myself craving steak, and burgers…which was weird, because I’d rarely eaten these things even when I did eat meat. It was probably my body’s way of telling me it needed more iron, which I now make sure to get from sources like cereal, beans and leafy greens.
I’m lucky, because I like a lot of vegetarian food – from beans (chickpeas, cannelini beans, lentils) to tofu and other soy products, not to mention vegetables themselves. Summertime is my favorite time to cook – give me fresh produce from the farmer’s market, olive oil, a little garlic, and I’m all set. If you want to experiment with vegetarian cooking, I highly recommend a cookbook called The Passionate Vegetarian; I haven’t found a bad recipe in it yet (be prepared for the author’s very silly name: Crescent Dragonwagon — no, I’m not making that up!).
If you love meat too much to give it up, but are drawn to the economic, health or environmental benefits of vegetarianism, you can follow Katie’s lead and experiment with Meatless Mondays.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with going a step further and giving up dairy and eggs. My inspiration? A book by Alicia Silverstone, of all people. I won’t get into all the details here, but if you’re interested, pick up her book, called The Kind Diet. It’s well-sourced, and written in a very accessible way (sort of like the book about blogging that Katie recently wrote about).
I think this is what it’s about: Experimenting. Learn about where your food comes from, and how it affects you. Make choices about what you want to put in your body. See how you feel. Make new choices. See how you feel, again.
We don’t need to lock into lifestyles, or labels. But I do believe that food production has sufficient impact on everything from our health, to our local economies, to the state of the environment, that we have a responsibility to, at the very least, educate ourselves.
With that in mind, here are some recommended resources:
- When PBS aired Food, Inc, they also compiled a host of educational materials about food production and related issues. Highly recommend.
- Katie’s very own post, Five Links to Get You Knee Deep in Food News