Suzanna and I have been pescetarians for some time. That is, we have been eating a vegetarian diet along with some animal products: eggs, milk and dairy products, and sustainably-raised seafood. We try to concentrate on sustainable organic minimally-processed foods as much as possible which requires constant vigilance.
At the same time, we both hoped to move towards a truly vegan diet at some point.
Now there are a number of reasons why people choose to become a vegetarian. I moved gradually to being vegetarian. I gave up red meat around 20 years ago. At the time, the primary motivation was health. I decided that red meat was not good for me and that was that. Actually, at first, I actually gave up all meat, but then I backed off a bit and resumed eating poultry and seafood. Fast forward to about 5 years ago when I decided to become a lacto-ovo pescetarian. And while my original motivation was health, I gradually became more and more aware of animal cruelty that is commonly practiced in farming. Still, I thought that milk and eggs were okay, especially organic milk and egg products.
Now, I think it’s fair to say that most people live with a certain number of inconsistencies in their lives. I know that I do. Another way of saying it is that most of us are, to some degree, hypocritical. That is, we try to do the right thing, but it’s not always possible unless you are ready to control everything in your life. As soon as you interact with the rest of the world and buy food, pump gas, purchase a toy for your child, watch a film, drink that beer, work at a job, purchase a sweater, live in a house, or visit a doctor, you lose some of the control over the ethics of the people and processes that happened to get you your sandwich, gasoline, toy, movie, glass of beer, job, sweater, home, or medical clinic.
Since writing this post back in 2013, we have dove into climate change in a big way and had made many adjustments to our lifestyle, purchases, and advocacy efforts.
Even your decision to do something as noble as write a check to a charity or hand a five dollar bill to a homeless person, comes with the potential of a number of unintended consequences, e.g. the misuse of the money, contributing to alcoholism.
Then there is the matter of suffering and injustice in the world. Or the fact that we may be living on once stolen land. “How do we sleep while our beds are burning?” What are we to do about all the suffering, disease, and injustice in the world?
At some point, you have to short-circuit the thinking. You can’t constantly think of every possible chain of consequences of every decision you make. Otherwise, life would be unbearable. But for me and Suzanna, this doesn’t mean giving up. We believe in being mindful of the ramifications of the choices we make and taking care of our neighbor, both local and globally speaking.
On The Other Hand
Getting back to the point I was trying to make: I would be lying if I said that I always do the most sustainable, most just, most considerate, least self-serving thing. Of course not. But, when it comes to the choices I make in my food, I try to be fairly conscious and conscientious. And, to be frank, over the years, I have learned about a number of issues with farming, especially the industrial farming that is so commonplace in the United States and “western world.”
In fact, Suzanna and I have talked many times over the past few years about becoming vegan. And then we would move on to something else while we sipped our lattes, ate our cheese, and, though less frequently, consumed a plate of scrambled eggs.
Then we recently watched the film Vegucated and the desire to move towards veganism was cemented. If you are curious about veganism or wish to learn more about what really happens on most farms, I suggest you watch this film. It’s available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and many other sources. See the Vegucated site for more details.
Okay, enough beating around the bush, here’s the long and the short of it:
the businesses and people who bring the vast majority of animal products to market, including meat, eggs, and dairy (yes, even dairy has major issues), treat animals in a disrespectful, cruel, and torturous fashion.
And they are not exactly doing good things for global warming and managing the world’s resources either. This is not to say, that there aren’t positives to come out of industrial farming: obviously, many people love animal-based food products. And these practices make food affordable for many people. But Suzanna and I can no longer support these practices.
We have drawn a line in the sand and farmed animals and animal products are on the other side.
Of course, we still have our inconsistencies. To name a few: we buy food at grocery stores and restaurants that do handle animal food. We aren’t throwing away our leather goods. (Though, it’s our intention to not purchase any more leather, feather, or fur-based products.) Also, we often share food with people who eat meat. I will also buy animal products for my children who are not vegan when we eat outside the home, though we only serve vegan food when they are with us.
We get plenty of protein: from beans, tofu, and nuts. And we are adapting to substitutes when necessary. Like Daiya cheese. And hemp and soy milk. And the occasional vegan treat. Hopefully, we can share some vegan tips and tricks in future posts on this blog.
Since writing this post back in 2013, we abandoned the practice of occasionally eating wild seafood. We have also moved more towards a more whole-food, plant-based approach. IOW, eating less highly-processed foods, even if they are vegan. Alas, we are not perfect.
After a few false starts, I think we have finally committed to this for good. Our biggest give-ups have been milk and cheese. But, despite what you may have heard, there is life after cheese. And we still have gluten, beer, and wine!