This is the story of a wishy-washy writer (therefore all her business is out there confusing the world) and her battles with what is right, and what makes us well, and what serves the most people and animals, yet finding what is beneficial to us (because if we aren’t happy then we can’t inspire others).
This is the story of a wishy-washy writer who was vegetarian for twenty-seven years, vegan for two, then on-and-off again meat eater-then-vegan since. It is about this time each year that I become fiercely ill. My body absolutely rebels against its half a year of animal products. One year it felt like I had a hole in my stomach. One year the gout was terrible. Then there was the chronic swelling of my lymph nodes for over a year. Then the intense stomach issues. This year I am on my third week of hives and stomach issues. Every year in my journal I write, “Next time I want to start eating meat again…read this!” But alas, we inevitably go on vacation, go to a friend’s house, read a book about being a locavore or the poisons of processed food and we are back to a freezer full of meat, pretending to be pioneers until I get sick again and neither of us are feeling so hot.
Every year, I frantically erase all of the posts from the six months before. When I am vegan, I erase the posts about raising animals for meat and recipes. When I am a meat eater, I erase all the animal sanctuary posts. Vegans (even the word, vegan) can sound annoying and frantic and extreme. I have inspired a lot of people to become vegan over the years and those folks are adamant and heartfelt in their work. I feel the same but then I think it may be so hypocritical. We simply cannot go through this life without causing death to other species. From petroleum use to clearing farm fields, every time you pop an Advil, or buy plastic, we aide in the death of others.
It is easier to just consume animal products. Then you don’t have to be the annoying one at the holiday dinner or the irritated one at a restaurant. You don’t have to get creative trying to make goat cheese out of almonds. I want goats. I don’t necessarily look forward to milking. And in my heart I know that taking the baby away and then sending it to slaughter if it is a boy, and drinking the milk after my own mother’s breast milk has many decades past dried up, is probably weird, if not wrong, and probably not that healthy. I don’t know y’all. Does anyone else have these dilemmas constantly bantering in their heads and hearts?
After I get sick each year, after I take on a plant based diet again, I always get better. Every ailment that ails me heals itself on a plant-based diet. Every time I have meat on my plate, I have less room for antioxidant-rich grains, vegetables, proteins, and fruit. Can you be a locavore and eat a plant-based diet? (And if we are honest, are any of us really eating that local?)
Here is the thing, I don’t even like the feeling of eating gooey, greasy cheese and I don’t even like meat! But it is so easy in our society. On this farm, am I really going to look in the eyes of an infant or old farm animal and decide they are going to die? I don’t think it is right to kill elephants or horses or cats for food….in other places it is acceptable….why do I think some animals are just destined for the plate? I could never look in the eyes of a moose or or deer and pull the trigger to end its beautiful life. I don’t know. These are real battles in my heart and mind and the way a writer delves into those recesses of questioning is to write.
I wonder how many people have chronic illnesses that can be blamed on their food choices, but because it is so hard to change them in our society, they will never make that change or get well.
And wouldn’t I rather be an example of kindness to all?
(If you leave a comment, please make sure it is respectful. There are probably no right or wrong answers here!)
7 Comments Add yours
I understand the dilemma, I have Celiac, and now have developed the same reaction to dairy (my research tells me that my body views the proteins of gluten and dairy as one in the same). The limiting of food choices severely impacts my social life as there are no “safe” restaurants in Chaffee County for me to enjoy. So I am always the weird one and socializing has a focus on food and drink.
As far as meat goes it does not bother my system, but does bother my perception of my place in the circle of life. As you note all choices require the death of “another”.
No answers from me, just a “I hear you and resonate with your post”.
I suppose we must start listening to our hearts and bodies and we will not go wrong!
I have had the same questions years ago growing up in rural Oklahoma where we raised our own animals for slaughter and our own vegetables all which went into the freezer. As a young teenager I couldn’t help but not want to know that I was eating a calf,piglet or chicken I helped raise and I questioned this. My dad told me God had designed it this way,daddy said meat is a part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation with plenty of vegetables and fruits to balance everything out. When we kill we are only to kill what we can fill the freezer with and no more,he continued with it’s different when we find it necessary to put an animal down due to sickness. Years later I raised milk goats and would put the wethers in the freezer along with the chickens and beef calves I raised especially for that purpose. I also grew my own vegetables.To this day I still try balance out my diet as he taught,many times enjoying vegetables with very little meat. I do not kill anything I can’t eat unless it poses a threat to my family or animals or is sick. Today I only have chickens and ducks. The chickens are only for their eggs and the ducks are for bringing beauty to the pond we have. Though we have 13 acres and could raise animals my health issues does not allow me to do the things I once did,if not for that I would most certainly carry on the traditions of how I was raised especially today with all the steroids and more that are given to the animals that wind up on our table, it’s no wonder we can become sick even with the vegetables. I believe home grown is best that way you know what you’re eating because you know what’s being fed to your animals. It’s a matter of choice though and whatever choice you make be happy with it because it’s your health, your life and it should be lived and enjoyed as you see fit. Read Leviticus about the foods to eat,it may help you. Many blessings to you in all you do and decide.
Yes, I see both sides to the equation and have lived both, but still think I am erring on the veg side. I think in past generations it must have been necessary, but maybe not now. Bringing in a peaceful new world, you know? Thank you so much for your comment!
I do understand, I often think as you do so you’re definitely not alone. I would love to find the perfect balance.
Well, you sent me into research mode. I never thought of locavorism and vegan/vegetarianism as mutually exclusive. If it is, that leaves me with the question of whether killing an animal for food is more ethical just because it happens on your doorstep, so to speak? I think the effort to be humane, just, and earth- and species-friendly raises some very difficult-to-answer questions, and doing what is ‘right’ is hard work–and sometimes only available to the privileged. A back-to-the-lander I admire once said something like, “We all make compromises–and the few who are too rigid for compromise die lonely. I thought of a local back-to-the land celebrity and how he has peeled away from one friend after another for that very reason. So, I think we have to come to terms with the notion of compromise in a world so complicated, the average person can’t possibly get hold of all the necessary information to make choices that don’t also induce some harm on the environment. My imperfect compromise is that while I’ve been a strict vegetarian for close to thirty years, I still eat dairy and eggs, both because my body tells me that’s what it needs and because I haven’t been able to dedicate the resources to achieve healthy alternatives. We just have to do the best we can based on our personal moral compasses..
Well said, my friend!