Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Quiet Vegetarian

I'm working at Sarah's Place as I'm typing this out. I suppose being surrounded by rad vegan stuff reminded me I wanted to tell you about this book.

I've just recently read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and can not recommend it enough. For all the defensive steak eaters out there who are already getting up in arms at the past two sentences, yes I am writing about a  'do not eat animals' book ... but it's not your typical vegetarians-patting-themselves-on-the-back type book.

It isn't preachy, it's based only on fact (with references for everything). It explores the difference between the farm you think an animal is raised on and the actual factory farm your meat comes from. The stories are heart-wrenching but very true ... one of the last chapters made me cry on the bus, it was so terrible, but I read it anyway.

I feel like everybody needs to know the information Foer is putting out there, meat eater or not. He sneaks into factory farms in the middle of the night, he interviews ranchers and slaughterhouse employees who are both for and against eating meat, he explores the environmental impact of factory farms, he does his research and cites his sources well.

This book was sort of preaching to the converted for me, I already knew most of the things he was writing about, but it was a really good reminder as to why I stopped eating dead bodies. Sounds gross, right? Well it's  true! Carcasses. Corpses. You're welcome.

I grew up eating meat at nearly every meal until I was about 23 years old. But I kind of feel like my eyes have been opened to the truth and I cannot unsee what I've seen. I don't feel right supporting an industry that routinely tortures animals. I have, over time, become a quiet vegetarian.

I try to let people feel comfortable with their own decisions and I try my best not to judge people's choices. I certainly try not to say anything about what others are eating, because I know I could do better myself. I don't always eat vegan, (insert lame placation about cheese here) and it's something I'm constantly working on and thinking about.

This post isn't to ask you to change, but I am saying that you should know the facts about what you're eating and make a decision from there. If you're truly okay with what is going on then by all means, eat your steak and wear your dog-fur Uggs and I'll leave you in peace. But I believe it's wrong to just turn a blind eye and pretend all your hot dogs died peacefully in their sleep.


Do you want to know a few animal-friendly things you can do during the holidays? 

Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving always seem to be the times of year when I'm most with people that feel the need to discuss/question/disregard my being vegetarian. We are by no means perfect, but here are a few ways our family keeps the holidays a teeny bit more animal friendly:

1. Well first of all...the food. I'm lucky that we are all vegetarians in our household, so rather than a turkey or whatever as the main course we usually end up eating tofurky. Do you really need bacon in that salad? Real butter in those potatoes? Ham in those peas? What's important is getting together and sharing a meal and good conversation. Not the turkey. Not the ham.

2. We don't shop at stores that sell furs, we don't support companies that use fur or leather in their clothing, and we don't buy anything down-filled or tested on animals. It's actually really easy to find awesome animal-free gifts pretty much anywhere.

3. Ryan recently started a tradition with his kids in which on every turkey-dinner-based holiday they drive out to a lake and feed some ducks. It's kind of like a giving back to the poultry community in a funny way. It's a nice outing and it makes the kids feel better about the holidays.

4. Hosting a vegetarian during the holidays? Here's a post I wrote last Easter that you should read.


Obviously these are very small things and there's so much more a person can do. Every small step, every time you eat vegan or vegetarian rather than eating meat, every time you use your buying power at a small real farm rather than a factory farm, every time you treat an animal right, you are making a difference in this world.

Imagine if you did one thousand small acts of kindness in one year, how much kindness that adds up to. Your actions can make a difference in the world.

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