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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

going, going, going veggie (sort of)

I am going to write this post without the worry of offending anyone.  (So if you're at all offended, don't say you weren't warned.)

When I was an older kid, I went through a lengthy "save the world" phase.  I fundraised for and attended a month-long World Peace Camp.  I became a vegetarian. I extolled upon all who would listen the critical need to consume only dolphin-safe tuna fish (before all tuna was dolphin-safe).  I was an early and avid recycler. War, in any form, never made any (and still doesn't) logical sense.  Not even when I got to high school and learned about territory and culture and world leaders.  The Revolutionary War where they lined people up and just shot rifles at the opposing line?  Pure madness.  Whoever killed the most won?  Huh?

I am still very idealistic and am often affronted when I come against people who, in the age of global warming and environmental destruction, don't recycle.  I still believe we can agree to disagree globally and live without war.  I believed (until the gay marriage vote in Maine last year proved me otherwise) that all people want fairness and equality.  I am outraged that people throw cigarrettes on the ground and other's throw trash from their car window.

I was a vegetarian for many years until my body began to crave chicken and so I started eating it and have since eaten the diet of a semi-vegetarian.  Sandi was a vegan for a few years until the limitations of eating no meat or dairy took a nutritional toll on her.  For years, we have consumed vegetarian fair along with fish and the occasional chicken or turkey maybe once or twice a week.  Neither of us have ever had a penchant for beef so this has been consumed on maybe a bi-annual basis.  I have never much liked to handle or cook with meat, so I have mainly eaten vegetarian food at home and meat when I eat out.

At the prompting of many friends, we finally watched the documentary "Food, INC" the other night.  If you haven't seen it, you must. 

This film, deftly lifts the veil between our perceived notions of where our food comes to the truth behind its origins.  There is such a shocking amount of corruption in our food and meat industry, blatant inhumane and violent treatment of animals, as well as legitimate fear over the safety of the food, specifically the meat, provided.   There is a whole segment about genetically engineered food and that all scares me silly.

All this isn't to freak you out unnecessarily, but it is to say that it is worth knowing what you are putting in your mouth.

We have been changing what we eat anyway over the last many months and have carved out diet to be mostly whole foods with very little of the processed kind and a specific focus on limiting chemicals and pestisides.  Neither Sandi or I have been able to stomach much meat as a result, but watching this film was the nail in the poultry coffin.  I will, simply, never eat or buy commercial chicken again.  I just can't do it.  We are no longer going to allow our children to eat it either- not at school, not at parties, not for special occasions.  No chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, or pepperoni pizza.  We are telling their schools that they are, for all intents and purposes, vegetarians.

For me this means very limited selection when dining out, being the vegetarian guests at a dinner party ("oh what are we going to feed them??") and being even more resourceful about solid protein sources. 

But, yes, I will search out local, organic farms for the occasional chicken for our family.  In that way, will still be only semi-vegetarian.  When discussing this issue with Ella, she truly began to cry when I told her no more chicken fingers at restaurants (her holy grail of dinning out), but was slightly cheered by the fact that she loves fish and chips and can still have those. (I mean, we can't take all breading and fried yumminess away from her, right?)

See, for me, I don't qualify as a true vegetarian anyway because I am not morally opposed to eating animals. I think the human body evolved to be at least partially carnivores (and I totally respect those that believe otherwise if even just for their own bodies).  If I'm going to eat an animal, though, it is a conscious choice.  It won't be because I can't think of anything else to eat or it's just what's in front of me.  And I want to eat an animal that lived a true and real life- for a chicken or pig or cow this would mean roaming free and eating grass- and then was killed in a fast, humane manner.  I am at peace with catching fish or lobster or shrimp from the ocean and then consuming it.  That does not feel inhumane to me. 

But pumping chickens full of hormones so that their breasts will grown giant in record time?  Growing them so fast that their skeleton can't keep up and isn't strong enough to support them walking on their feet?  Feeding cows a corn diet when they should live on grass, disrupting their gastric balance and creating E.Coli and keeping them penned in manure up to their ankles before their life ends in a terrifying slaughter and sending potentially lethal pathogens into the food source?  This I cannot live with.

So, yes.  We are now the lesbian, vegetarian, pro-environment, pro-choice, anti-war family with a focus on taking chocolate milk away from little kids.  What can I say?  We will try to stand proud.

Pretty, pretty please go watch the movie.  I've told people about it and they say, "I won't watch that until I'm ready to change how I eat."  I promise you, if you watch it, your ostrich head will involuntarily come popping out of the sand and you WILL be ready to change, even a tiny bit, how you think about the food you eat.  It's better to know, to be fully conscious, don't you think?


Emilie said...

I just posted a yummy chicken piccata recipe on the blog! (kidding).

i fully support you! you are so right!

Angela said...

Bravo, friend!!

(PS - You guys would be interested in The Future of Food, too.)

Sandi said...


Katie said...

way to go. all so true. food, inc. is...just.....unbelievable. it might be time for me to watch it again. i remember it just being...horrific.

(can we sign the choc. milk petition, or is it just for mcgraw parents?)


Katie said...

p.s. we totally miss you guys. will we EVER see you again?! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Fortunately you live in an area with plenty of farmers who can raise animals ethically. You should look up farmers in MOFGA and see if you can buy chicken that has been ethically raised. Farm shares are a great way to go for veggies, eggs and milk; and if you are interested ethically raised chicken.

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