Thursday, September 1, 2011
Changing perspectives: Food.
What do you think of when you hear the word vegetarian? How about vegan?
Depending on your relationship to food, or animals, people will have a wide variety of answers to that question. The question can also be posed this way:
What do you think of when you hear the word carnivore?
I can't answer those questions for everyone, but I can tell you what I think:
- There are less-than-ideal conditions in some slaughter houses,
- Cruelty to animals is a reality (either through living conditions or slaughtering practices),
- You can't know about cruelty/slaughtering practices from looking at the meat, so it's difficult to know what you're supporting through your purchases,
- Animals which are used to produce dairy, even if not slaughtered for their meat, can also lead horrible lives,
- and finally, raising animals for meat-production for the growing global population is not sustainable and produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases.
There are other reasons but from those listed above, it's not hard to see why people are opting to be vegetarian or vegan these days.
Yet I found myself wrestling with this choice... (this is going to sound really lame) but I love bacon and salami. I could sacrifice steak no problem, I'd pretty much given up chicken in 2005 (though that was more of a phobia) and I never actually purchased meat to cook at home because I didn't really know how to cook it (though I did buy it frozen or processed somehow). But the fact of that matter was, I was still in no way vegetarian. And then I saw this video...
Graham Hill: Why I'm a weekday vegetarian | Video on TED.com
The idea is very simple: meat used to be part of a diet consisting of many other things, but over the course of the past few decades, it's become the main event. As the earth's population continues to grow, this rising trend is not sustainable. So instead of giving up meat forever, a choice which is not desirable for some, nor imaginable for others, people can decide to consume less meat. In this case, it means eating a vegetarian diet from Monday to Friday, and consuming meat only on weekends.
I've been doing this for over a year now and I can say, it's working out really well. I first started off exactly as Graham described in the video, eating vegetarian food from Monday to Friday and having some meat on the weekends. Then some weekends, I wouldn't have meat at all (because I learned I could easily live without it), while some weekdays I opted for some meat... it has since become a flexible guideline rather than a rule. I am still too ashamed to call myself a vegetarian because I know I am not one, but something should be said for people making conscious choices towards more sustainable living as well.
So give it some thought. Whether it's trying out weekday veg., having one vegetarian meal a day or a week to start out, there are an endless number of possibilities which you can tailor for yourself. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!