Friday, April 9, 2010

Born again vegetarian

That's what I'm calling myself... I'm not sure if I made it up (I'd like to think that I did, but I might have heard it somewhere)... but that's neither here nor there.

I am a born again vegetarian.

"Born again" because I've been a vegetarian several times in my life:
  • When my parents took me to the Westside Market and I saw an entire severed pig head in a deli case (that lasted several months)
  • After that claymation movie about the chickens escaping from the farm with Mel Gibson as one of the voices (that lasted at least six weeks or so. I mean seriously, how could you even look a chicken nugget without remembering those ADORABLE clay chicks?!)
  • In high school for a while
  • In college on and off

Each time, my reasons were different: adorableness of animals, persuaded by a character in The Babysitter's Club books, hearing someone say "I don't eat anything with a face," I could go on.

And the truth is, I have really never loved meat that much. Steak always grossed me out. Pork? Not a fan. Anything on the bone turned my stomach (until I discovered chicken wings in college and could look past it because of the yummy sauces that were drenched all over them ... mmm... Europe Gyro spicy garlic...)

But I'm back on the veg wagon have having read about and learned a lot about factory farming, including the treatment of animals and the environmental impact. (In addition to adorableness and the whole thing about meat having a face.)

I'm not going to get on a soap box. I still feed factory farmed meat to my husband and son. I'd prefer not to, but that just not something that's gonna happen. (Seriously, sometimes I wonder what Brian was thinking proposing to me: a hippie wannabe, liberal, Hispanic, Catholic-turned-Jew? But, what can I say? It works. Ben will either grow up very balanced or very confused. :) )

I'd still eat meat, if I could confirm the animal who gave its life was able cared for and able to live the best life possible -- one with a healthy diet close to what nature intended, adequate space and the ability to do its animal things like roll in the mud, raise its children, graze in the field (or peck in the coop or swim in the stream) -- and that it was slaughtered swiftly and without fear or undue stress.

Some day, when we don't have doggies, I'd like to have chickens and my own eggs. (Yes, in my suburb. I don't live on a farm.)

I'm not a vegan -- yet. I'm getting there. And I'm learning as I go. But I can tell you this: it's not hard. For me, it's the right choice.

P.S. If you're at all intersted in reading what I did, check out The Omnivore's Dilemma and Eating Animals (in that order). Both are written by men who wanted to understand from where their food came. Neither book is preachy or defines absolutes, and both are fascinating.


  1. I completely support your position but please remember that those books are written from a certain viewpoint. I am not saying that they are all right or all wrong, but you have to think critically about them. As someone that works with these animals everyday and goes to MANY farms-that are considered "factory farms" by that author, I feel that I am someone that also has a perspective on the issue. I would be happy to discuss things with you if you would like. Please remember that there can be good management on large farms or small farms and vice versa. Farm size is not an indicator of animal well-being or (maybe more importantly) food safety. There is a reason why trichinella doesn't occur anymore-because pigs are not fed slop and kept on dirt. Some of the producers that treat the animals the worst may only have 3-4 animals. Also, it is a federal law that the animals we eat are slaughtered humanely, "Humane Slaughter Act 1968, rev. 2002) and do not feel anything when they are slaughtered.

    I don't want to go on my soap-box either :), but I just think that people should have all the information when they make decisions. Also, I believe that there are changes to be made in animal agriculture and I am working on that right now in my PhD program. I hope that my work can contribute to a better life for the animals. I have a utilitarian viewpoint about the use of animals which is, we are going to use them for our benefit but how can we make their life as good as possible while we do that. This stands for any animal-our dogs, livestock, backyard chickens, zoo animals, etc.

    Anyway, I hope that this isn't too annoying it is just an interesting discussion topic!
    Sara Crawford

  2. Love hearing your POV, Sara! Even better talking more about it in person at dinner. I think the key point here is that people need to be educated about from where their food comes, listen to MANY points of view, then make the decision that works for their selves/families.

    I love talking about this topic because there's always more to learn -- and, thankfully, changes happening all the time.