Of all of the changes that we’re making, I think the switch to ethical eating may be the most challenging- for me anyway. I love to eat. I always have. But I don’t like to eat just anything (though, alright- I will if I’m hungry, or moody, or bored). I prefer foods rich in spices and exotic flavours. I love fresh fruit that can’t be grown anywhere near our zone (which borders on a 3 to 2) and cheeses that I couldn’t possibly make myself. And meat… don’t get me started. I really enjoy a good piece of meat. So a switch to ethical eating is, well, daunting to say the least.
I use the term “ethical eating” to refer to eating foods that I don’t feel guilty consuming. So for instance, eating produce that we grow ourselves or is produced locally as opposed to the yummy mangos and bananas sprayed with chemicals that have to be flown in. Avoiding processed foods containing such ingredients as palm oil, which is destroying huge tracts of land and displacing families, never mind the environmentally unfriendly factory practices that produce the final products, and the shipping… Not eating factory farmed meat, and so on. Things that leave me with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that isn’t indigestion but good old fashioned guilt.
I think that I can handle the local produce. With our soil building and plans for a small greenhouse, I believe we’ll be able to meet most of our needs. Eventually, all of them. Maybe not as exciting as coconuts and fresh lemons, but sufficient. Cheese, well we do plan on keeping goats within the next couple of years, so I could foreseeably learn how to make my own cheese. Besides which, I’m lactose intolerant so if I have to give up some dairy it’s not an entirely bad thing. Chocolate- I’m not a huge fan anyway, that’ll be a bigger adjustment for Shane who I think would be happy if all foods were dipped in it. The meat… now that concerns me.
I have no vegetarian inclinations. None. My favourite food after a long day of work is steak. I’ve ‘gone vegetarian’ for periods of time when there was no choice and the drama was downright comical (to everyone but me). I moan, and swoon, and put on a great big show worthy of Scarlet O’Hara and when I finally escape whatever vegetarian home we’re staying at, I race to the closest place that serves meat and wolf down a man sized meal. “I’ll have the bacon, sausages, steak and eggs- over easy please. Oh, you’re supposed to pick one? Mmm, I’ll just pay extra thanks.”
So I have nothing against eating meat. But I do take issue with the way that animals are raised for food. Easy enough right? Raise animals, treat them well, make sure they have a good life, and then butcher them. Or, equally palatable (no pun intended)- hunt. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog that I did learn to shoot this year, and I’m a natural, so I could take up hunting next year. Problem solved, right?
Not quite. I don’t know if I can kill an animal. Sure, I can eat something that someone else killed. (For the record, I am very easy going on hypocrites- I give them a long leash. Don’t email me your thoughts.) I just don’t know when push comes to shove if I can actually kill an animal myself. I’d like to think that I could, but I’m the same person who tries to warn the spiders that Shane will see them if they build their webs in such conspicuous areas and physically moves them to ‘safer’ locations (they never listen). And our so-called “barn cats”, which I’m madly allergic to and swore never to bond with, have a carpeted area in our garage with a double insulated house and are fed and watered daily. I just don’t know.
I have this romantic vision of hunting, a quick kill and giving the animal proper thanks prior to butchering it and bringing it home to feed my family. I’m just not sure it’ll play that way in real life. I could very well end up sobbing and throwing up over the poor dead thing.
So I’m left with a dilemma. Either develop the stomach for killing or stop eating meat. Sure, I could leave it to Shane but that doesn’t sit well with my conscience either. I believe if you can’t do it yourself, that speaks too loudly to ignore. Oh, I guess not entirely ‘too loudly’ to be ignored since it is my current practice but I suspect it will eventually get to me as all my nagging does. It’s funny, how doing the ‘wrong thing’ is so amazingly easy while doing the ‘right thing’ (and I’m of course being entirely subjective here) is ridiculously difficult and sometimes requires years of self-talk and condemnation.
Guess we’ll see what happens. I do know that we can’t go on eating the way that we do. A move to more ethical practices would not only weigh easier, it may be the only option left sooner than later. And maybe that’s the ticket- having no option but to do the right thing. You still get points for that, right? 😉