Friday, January 26, 2018

Morals and Meat: Our "Vague-an" Habits (and a Call to Action)

("Vague-an" is my favorite term to refer to someone who eats animal products only under specific circumstances.)

(Read Part One and Two here.)

This is an explanation of how Zach and I have chosen to eat, at least for now. It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but it’s our attempt at being thoughtful in the way we consume animal products. 

We eat homemade food 99% of the time— vegan food at restaurants is usually expensive or bland, so we prefer to stay at home and enjoy what we make, knowing what’s in it and where it was sourced. At restaurants we eat vegetarian food (which I’m currently trying to change to eating vegan) or something with fish. We will occasionally buy dishes at restaurants with beef in them, since my issue with the beef industry is more environmental than animal-rights-based, but this is becoming rarer and rarer.

When we buy meat (which is very rare, because of its expense), we try to buy from local farms, either at the farmers’ market or the health food store. We’ve bought industrial beef on sale before (to avoid it getting thrown out), but I’m not sure I’d do that again.

We will not buy pork or poultry unless it has been pasture-raised, or at least is certified organic. 

We have switched to buying eggs from a neighbor (and soon will have eggs from our chickies!), and I’m trying to resolve to give up industrial eggs entirely (no more Grandma’s Cookies— yikes!). 

We buy small-scale milk and butter, cheddar sourced from a co-op of smaller farms, and organic half and half. We are still trying to find organic/pastured sources for other kinds of cheese, sour cream, and parmesan.

We don’t have moral objections to eating fish. There are a host of environmental issues around fish, but we’ll still eat tuna or tilapia upon occasion.

When we are at a potluck, we eat whatever people bring. Ditto with eating food at someone else’s house. Some of our friends and family know about our dietary preferences, but we never ask that people make anything special for us. To clarify, though: I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask people not to serve animal products to you, especially if you have a moral objection. It’s just not something we’ve chosen to do.

Whatever you decide to do, I urge you to mindfully consider what eating animals entails, and if you choose to be something other than a vegan, I think that you shouldn’t flinch at the idea of slaughter. No, I don’t think you have to slit a chicken’s throat yourself in order to be an honest omnivore, but it is quite a leap of logic to be firmly against puppy mills but have no objection to concentrated animal feeding operations. As I said before, this is something I’m happy to talk about, so if you have any questions, please let me know!

In summary, I believe that it’s critical we rethink our relationship with “food animals.” If we are uncomfortable with the idea of killing animals, it’s only reasonable to stay with that discomfort and look it straight in the eyes, rather than putting it out of our heads as we continue to chow down on bacon. If we are okay with the idea of killing animals, we need to look more carefully at the way that animals are raised in the industrial system, and ask if these conditions are an acceptable way to treat a living creature. Each person will come to different conclusions, but it’s something worth pondering.

I will leave you with a quote from Joel Salatin, well-known in farming circles for his humane treatment of the pigs, chickens, and cattle he raises. In his book The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs (book review pending), he specifically calls out Christians on the matter of meat. His words are for everyone who’s trying to show integrity in the details: “...if we are going to walk a life of genuine faith, we’re going to have to wrestle with these issues. I have no problem if you think I’m too out there. That’s okay. But can we at least wrestle with these issues?”


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