Posts tagged ‘flexitarian’

Eating animals

It’s a topic that many people don’t discuss in depth, though animals make up a good portion of our plates every day. Bacon for breakfast, turkey slices on a sandwich for lunch and a T-bone steak for dinner.

But what does it mean to eat animals? For some, nothing. For others, everything. For others of us, it’s somewhere in between. Since it’s bound to come up eventually, I’ll spend a little time now discussing my thoughts on eating animals. To be sure, this will not be exhaustive.

Growing up in Montana, my family was a hunting family. To be fair, I never went hunting myself, but we rarely ate “red meat” that didn’t come from an elk or deer. The few times my mom bought beef as a “special treat,” I remember noticing the fat sticking to the roof of my mouth and thinking it odd. But other than believing certain meat – or the way it was prepared – tasted good or bad, I was not discriminatory about the kinds of meat I ate until college.

Then came philosophy my junior year.

The topic was “Women and Philosophy” and the class examined how women have been viewed through the eyes of philosophy throughout history. Not exactly the place you would think you’d have a life changing experience in relation to meat. But alas, we read Carol Adam’s Neither Man nor Beast, watched a film featuring Peter Singer and discussed at length the relationship between the mistreatment of women and the mistreatment of animals and our planet. To this day, the most vivid image I have in my memory is a picture of a woman sitting on her haunches, with lines drawn on her body like cuts of meat.

So, as someone who grew up learning about the conservation of natural resources, it didn’t take long after I learned in class how much water a diet high inĀ animals takes in comparison to one high in plants to get me thinking about what I should be eating. After further research, I made the decision in November 2004 to eliminate cows from my diet. Given that I didn’t eat much beef anyway, this wasn’t a hugely difficult task, but it started a whole lifetime of examining my plate.

Another significant part of my early look at eating animals was in January 2006 when I read a copy of Jane Goodall’sĀ Harvest for Hope, given to me by my mom. The book discusses a myriad of food issues, but she introduced me to the term “flexitarian.” Many people look at me like I have two heads when I say the word, but it’s real, trust me. In fact, it was voted the most useful word of 2003 by the American Dialect Society. As I’ve gone about this “To Meat or Not to Meat” journey, I’ve found the flexitarian idea to be very helpful, especially when feeling like my diet could still use some work – like, is 75% vegetarian enough? Were those chickens fed antibiotics? Where did that fish come from? Fortunately, the goal for me with food is not perfection, but thoughtfulness – what a relief.

Not wanting this to become a novel, I will end here, full well knowing that this topic will emerge again – like when you start to notice there aren’t any recipes involving pigs.

July 8, 2011 at 10:42 am Leave a comment


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