Thursday, April 22, 2010

Food for Thought

As I said in an earlier post, I wish I was a Vegetarian.  I really do.  I actually was a vegetarian for about 5 years starting when I was 19.  My friend and I decided to become vegetarians on a whim, but what started as kind of a flighty decision turned into being one of the best I ever made.  Back then I was pretty fit and healthy already, but I quickly dropped 10 pounds and was in the best shape of my life.  I remember looking at myself (naked) in the mirror one day thinking how I actually had good thighs!

Through the years of avoiding meat, I also started reading a lot about meat processing and slaughter practices in general.  And can you say, yuck?  Not just yuck, but oh, those poor things!  It always irritates me when people who eat meat tell me they can't bear to watch or read information about what happens to these animals.  I think if you cannot handle knowing where your food comes from and at what cost, you don't deserve to eat it.  What a great example of keeping your head in the sand.  But that's my opinion.

So anyway, I loved being a vegetarian.  I loved how I felt, I loved saying it, I loved knowing that I wasn't contributing to the suffering and death of so many defenseless animals.  What I didn't love was having to eventually cooking two meals since my husband would turn out to be a meat eater.  I didn't love worrying about what would be served at someone else's home if we were invited for a meal.  I never liked making a big deal about my eating habits because I always thought no one should have to make concessions for me.  If they asked, I was proud to tell them.  If they didn't, I just dealt with it.  But eventually I guess I got lazy and it seemed easier just to eat meat again, so I gradually added it back to my diet starting with seafood, then poultry, then red meat and pork.  And besides, I never quit wearing leather.  People always liked pointing to my leather shoes or purses if I brought up the inhumane treatment of animals who are raised for food.  I was often accused of being a hypocrite.

I watched Oprah on the day she had Michael Pollan as a guest who talked about the documentary "Food Inc." I tend to gravitate towards information on healthy eating, meat processing, etc. so I was immediately interested in viewing the entire film. I have been trying to round up a copy of it for the past couple of weeks when 'lo and behold, PBS decided to air it for me last night!

Food Inc. is not only about the meat we eat, it's about all food and where it comes from.  The message is about buying from your local farmers and supporting your local industries.  Buy organic products.  It's about possibly spending more on your food but spending less on your health.  Spend more on the front end to save more on the back end.  All of this makes perfect sense to me.

The film says the consumers have all the power, but as one consumer, I feel pretty powerless.  We have a farmer's market here in town from May to October and we also live pretty close to a farming community which has commercialized itself into a family fun center, basically.   I am happy to support these things.  But I also love the convenience of going to the grocery store and buying all the fruit and vegetables I want no matter what season it is.  It's not a necessity, but it's a convenience that I like.  Although apparently by buying fruits or veggies out of local season I am supporting the destruction of the world.  So what do I do?

I have decided that my first step will be to consume less factory meat and dairy, and look for more free range and organic options.  And consume less meat overall since I'm a vegetarian at heart. 

I will still have my leather accessories, though.  Am I living a double standard? 

My next order of business will be to read the book, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.  This book was also featured on Oprah's show that day.  I'm not about eating a bunch of soy products in the shape of meat, or making "cheese dip" that has no cheese in it, but I think her ideas are worth reading.  I'm not interested enough to actually buy the book, though, so I need to reserve my copy at the library.  I'll post back with my opinion.

Regardless of your opinions about eating meat, or not eating meat, I recommend watching "Food Inc."  If for no other reason than it is good food for thought.  It can never hurt to be more aware of where your food (not just meat) comes from.

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