Monday, January 23, 2012
I first learned (or rather, became aware of) about factory farming in college, when an animal rights group on campus displayed the many horrific images of tortured animals in cages, crowded, uncared for, and mistreated. I remember crying and feeling sick to my stomach, and I couldn't look at meat for a while. I went vegan cold-turkey. But the problem was, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't keep track of nutrients and vitamins, and it wasn't long before my health started to suffer. Anemia. Fatigue. Poor concentration. At a time when low-carb, low-fat, low-everything was "the way" to live, I didn't know anything about the importance of eating healthy fats and healthy grains. So yes, I lived off of salads and tofu... While my soul was at peace, my body wasn't doing so well...
When I came home, my mom immediately became worried, and pleaded me to "give up the vegan non-sense." After hours of arguing and crying, I agreed that something wasn't right, and I had to re-evaluate my eating habits. But I soon realized that once you are aware, it's impossible to go back to the ignorant days... The images in your head and the knot in your throat stay with you forever...
Since college, I've gone through vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and a little-bit-of-everything-arian days -- lifestyles that changed mainly to accommodate new different living environments and circumstances. But I never stopped being aware. I believe there has got to be a way to be happy and healthy and wise and aware of the dietary choices you make. And these choices should take into account your well-being of you, as well as that of animals and our earth. Only then will there be zen, peace, understanding, balance. The problem I ran into during college is I took the me part out of that equation. I started caring only about animals and the earth we live on.
Since those college days, I'm still trying to find the right place for myself. Every day I try to become more aware. I research. I read. I ask. I learn. I try. That's the only way to avoid living an ignorant life.
Since moving home, I've begun to occasionally eat seafood because my mom makes a lot of effort to buy sustainable and ethical products. She knows how much it means to me, and she goes out of her way to do that for me. She worries that I'll once again become salad-eating-Veronica. And I appreciate that. A lot.
Earlier in the fall, my mom made a one-hour trip to Burningheart Farm, where farm animals are treated humanely. They truly do range freely and eat organic feed. We discovered this farm through Eat Wild New Jersey. At that time, I wasn't ready to try eating meat again. I hadn't eaten it in years and it still didn't feel right. But I was truly grateful for the labor and love that the owners invested into their farm... If only there were more farms like that...
Tonight, my grandma defrosted some of the chicken that my mom had bought at that time. She prepared one of my childhood favorite meals - braised potatoes with chicken. Knowing how much love she put into making this meal, and appreciating that this chicken lived a good life, I decided to have a piece. This meal was a great learning lesson for me. I learned that my vegetarian journey taught me to practice conscientious eating. And that, I think, is the major difference that separates people like me from those who eat rare steaks and drink gallons of milk simply because that's how they were raised. Without thinking. Without questioning.
The meal was delicious. But I don't think I can ever consider myself a carnivore. My obsession with veggies, the earth, and its earthlings is too big. Perhaps on occasion, I'll have some meat or poultry, but only when I know where it came from and that it was made with great effort and love...
Tonight's dessert featured one of my favorite citrus fruits - a sweetie! So so good!
...sorry for rambling... I just needed to let these thoughts and feelings out... Please feel free to share your own. Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this.
And yes, the giveaway is still waiting for you to enter!