Vegetarianism & Humane Eating: Checking in after 18 months...


It’s been quite awhile since I’ve blogged about vegetarianism.  I have fond memories of some spirited comments: we can talk about queer Christians till we’re blue in the face, but if you really want to piss folks off, tell them eating meat is cruel!  It’s akin to "hating America."

And I don’t think I ever outright said: “eating meat is cruel.”  Because I don’t think it is, and I love eating meat.  In fact, I know I stated that I don’t have a moral problem killing animals.  My moral convictions continue to come from a belief that the predominant systems for “manufacturing” meat are cruel, inhumane, and quite literally a moral attack on Creation itself.  As I’ve discussed here, and countless sites and sources testify elsewhere, factory farms – by design - are continually and systemically guilty of animal abuse and torture through every stage of animals’ miserable lives, on the way to “harvesting.”  These animals live in fear and pain from birth to painful death.

So it was all the way back in December, 2008 that I declared my vegetarianism.  And I think I made it about 6 months, not eating ANY meat.  Since then, I have slowly integrated small amounts of meat back into my diet after some lovely discoveries that make life (and food) much more enjoyable while remaining aligned with my convictions.  The first is that Oregon is a very, very easy place to eat humane meat.  It is accessible, there are local farms everywhere, and there are restaurants that brag about it!  And not just upscale restaurants: the McMennamins pubs and restaurants, and BurgerVille USA both serve meat from Country Natural Beef farms (http://countrynaturalbeef.com).  Their website reads:

Animal Welfare & Stewardship.  Country Natural Beef is third party certified for humane animal practices and environmentally sensitive land management by Food Alliance.  In February of this year, the Country Natural Beef Animal Welfare Standards were endorsed by Temple Grandin, a well known animal behaviorist and industry expert.

Reading Country Natural Beef’s website, I think Wendell Berry would be proud.

There are other restaurants, co-ops and grocers locally that provide humane, local, organic options to the conscientious omnivore.

Even with a lot of local options for meat, 18 months into my eating-lifestyle-shift, I probably only eat a meal with meat 2-4 times in a month.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I’ve just discovered so many great vegetarian recipes to cook at home, and I love the way I feel after a meal of largely-fresh produce (buying produce from local farmers is another important step: culturally, economically and ecologically)!  Now, meals with meat are a rare (and delicious) treat!

I know making the leap to outright vegetarianism is hard for some of you to stomach (heh, heh) but I hope you’ll consider being more deliberate in evaluating the source of the food you consume, and making sure your dollars are going to support companies, grocers, restaurants and farms that live up to your values.

Here’s a great place to start your exploration:

Food Alliance is a nonprofit organization that certifies farms, ranches and food handlers for sustainable agricultural and facility management practices.

By choosing Food Alliance Certified products, consumers and commercial food buyers can be assured they are supporting safe and fair working conditions, humane treatment of animals, and good environmental stewardship.

Here’s a link to other posts I’ve written about this:


And here are some other great online resources I have pointed to:
 Cheers!

2 comments:

Eruesso said...

Growing up as a Seventh Day Adventist in the Southeast, I took vegetarianism for granted. I never really thought about it growing up in a town (Collegedale, TN) which was about 90% SDA which also had a primarily vegetarian health food store as the main grocer (Wal-mart had yet to move into our area, and the only other grocery store was Red Food which was bought out by Food Lion, I think). I also attended an SDA boarding high school which didn't serve any meat whatsoever. I wouldn't say I was completely alien to meat but it was fairly absent in my youth.

Rhiannon Y Orizaga said...

Hey I love this! I am a huge advocate of eating responsibly! One thing beef lovers might consider is bison. Pretty similar, but cheaper when you're looking for grass-fed, raised in a moral way kind of meat. All bison is free-range, there are no bison factory farms. And it's at Fred Meyer!

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