round and round...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It was only a matter of time

I had a feeling it would happen sooner or later. It's one of those things I knew would creep up on me and get me when I was least expecting it. I've thought about it in the past, but always shied away before I committed. Lots of my friends do it, so eventually it was going to spread to me, right?

The vegetarianism, I mean.

Here's the deal - in addition to having some animal-friendly guilt I have always advocated conscious eating. Read: be aware of where your food comes from, know what you're eating, if you can't pronounce it you don't want to put it in your mouth, respect the source, etc. I think most Americans' eating habits are deplorable, so for years I've been trying to eat healthier and buy local (hence my participation in a CSA), doing whatever I can to contribute to sustainable and respectable food practices not only for myself, but for the benefit of my local community.

Our culture of blind consumption is counter intuitive to treating ourselves and our planet in a way that encourages life. Right now we throw away more than 30% of all the food we buy. That's unbelievable. That means on average, you throw away $30 of every $100 you spend at the grocery. If we did that with commodities other than food it would seem outrageous to us, but since it's food we don't really notice. Think of it this way. If you go clothes shopping and you buy a new outfit, shoes and all, then you come home and throw the pants away before you've even worn them, that's the equivalent of what we do with food as a nation. Seems insane, right?

Part of our over-consumption is wrapped up in wasteful practices that go into producing the food we eat. For example: it takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of ground beef. That's the same amount of water you can save each year by installing a low-flow shower head or smaller capacity toilet tank. 2,000 gallons! For one night's meal of taco salad! I just can't justify 2,000 gallons of water for a taco salad dinner anymore. And I loves me some taco salad, people. All that water, all that grain/corn (and the land needed to grow the grain/corn) that goes to feed the cow that lives a short and cramped life so that I can later eat him in a completely detached way has become totally unappealing to me now.

From an animal-lover's perspective, eating meat has always brought some conflicting emotions. My dad hunted when I was a kid, and it was always for food, not for sport. He taught me about guns being dangerous and only for hunting. He made sure I went with him to the butcher a few times when he took the deer in to be parceled out into the multitude of white butcher paper wrapped packages that would eventually fill our freezer. I stepped over dead deer that were being prepped for butchering and was filled with a sense of respect that those animals had been killed for us to eat. It was my first introduction to my very own food source. Rather than seeing an anonymous venison steak or burger on my plate, I knew that meat came from the deer my dad and I took to the butcher. There was something important about that experience. It showed me that meat is not only food, meat was once an animal that had a face and a mother and a life.

The humane reasons for not eating meat were never quite enough on their own to make me become vegetarian. However, the environmental impact of meat production is exactly enough to push me over the edge and change my ways. It's a personal decision. Personally, I simply can't justify my meat consumption anymore. I don't begrudge anyone their steak. I will miss cheeseburgers in a way that is best described as "demented", but that's not enough to make me ignore all the other parts of mass meat production. My eyes have been opened and I can't "unsee" what I've seen.

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10 What people are saying:

Blogger Sandra rambles...

I was veg for 16 years, even vegan for a few, for all the reasons you mention. Then one day I suddenly couldn't do it - I had to 'try' all the meats I'd never tried, and I just couldn't get enough protein. Rebellion? Curiosity? Protein deficiency? No idea. Lately, I'm heading back to veggies again. At the end of the day, healthy food feels better on all levels. Your struggle with cheeseburgers, I have with crispy bacon. But it's so greasy and bad for the arteries, and meat production is horrible for the I do love baby piglets. So thank goodness the meat replacements these days are pretty good, they didn't used to be.

5/22/2008 12:54:00 PM

Blogger Brown English Muffin rambles...

I could head your direction quite easily but I would easily get drawn back from the smell of bacon and eggs that my husband would cook and not give up.

He's also crazy over steak which I've never had a liking for. Chicken I could do without also anything big and anything that looks like the animal it once was is very off putting to me...hence why I guess I can stomach bacon and that's about the only thing I'd miss.

Have you tried the Indian Masala Burgers from Trader Joes? Can you say yummy!!

Oh and the cashew crunch mixes I mentioned in my older post...yeah I could go vegan in a minute but I just couldn't do it living in a house with a meat eater.

5/22/2008 01:04:00 PM

Blogger Brown English Muffin rambles...

Oh yeah what do you use for your "click it, read it, love it" section on the right? I use blogroll but wondered what you use.

5/22/2008 01:05:00 PM

Blogger Lynilu rambles...

Now I feel even more guilty about my recent habits than I did before! The last few days I've eaten everything that didn't run away from me! Stress?? YA THINK??

I usually eat a fairly "balanced diet." I feel better when I eat more fruits and veggies, but like Sandra describes, when I dial down the meats to wean off of them, my system rebels when I get too low on them. I just don't feel good, regardless of the other proteins I eat. So I eat meat in moderation, more fish and poultry.

I hope my crazy-eating binge ends soon. I'm going to have a quart of Ben & Jerry's while I wait for it's return.


5/22/2008 06:58:00 PM

Blogger surviving myself rambles...

welcome aboard!

I've been veggie for about 9 years now and it's great.

5/23/2008 11:53:00 AM

Blogger Melissa rambles...

Sandra - Vegan, eh? Wow. I could not live w/o cheese. I might die. Seriously, I might just expire. Bacon will be a hard part. I am prepared for that to be tough.

Brown English Muffin - I've got to try those burgers! Masala? Yumtastic. Trying to go meatless in a meat-eatinghousehold is hard. Luckily, this is a decision Matthew and I have come to together. I use Blogroll, too. It's all in how you set up your preferences when you add links.

Lynilu - I had B&J's last night! M & I split a pint of Cherry Garcia w/chocolate sauce. So good. So bad, but so good! I crave the protein, too, so that's why fish are staying in the diet. I need some fish to make this work.

Surviving myself 9 years, eh? Wow. What made you make the switch? Is Ari veg, too?

5/23/2008 12:31:00 PM

Blogger Retro Girl rambles...

We're making small changes, whenever we can...I don't know that we'll ever be disciplined enough to make it totally vegetarian, however. (I wish I could say I loved veggies enough to do so).

I admire those of you who share your knowledge and this valuable information. So many of us grew up in the 'meat & potato" belt, and were never taught enough about nutrition, the environment, or the effects of our blind consumption and poor choices. Too bad we weren't taught this in school growing up...It's not too late though...Thanks for sharing with us.

5/24/2008 08:27:00 PM

Blogger Monogram Queen rambles...

Ignorance is bliss in my case la~la~la~la

but my hat is off to you Melissa. You are truly doing the right thing

5/27/2008 10:45:00 AM

Anonymous Caiden rambles...

Yes, time does matters to me. Used to go for online shopping at Casual Male to save time & money.

5/29/2008 02:26:00 AM

Blogger Sandra rambles...

Oooh I am going to try B.E.M.'s suggestion: Indian Masala Burgers? Get out!!!

5/29/2008 06:02:00 PM


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