Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Crying and writing

I went online today to look for some cooking inspiration. I've been in a cooking rut for the last week, due mostly to the lingering cold we all have. Yesterday we survived on bananas dipped in peanut butter (Amira and I finished off 6 bananas between the two of us). I started glancing at recipes on the fat free vegan blog and ended up reading this article a few clicks later. I followed the article's link to the videos on the humane society's website. (to find the relevant videos click on "factory farming" in the channel navigator. Then watch the movies called "cheap meat" and "overlooked.")

I am still crying from those movies I just watched. Those of you who know me well, know that I've really never been an "animal person" in the traditional sense. Our only pet is a fish, I think it really weird when people dress up their dogs and I can't stand house cats (due to my extreme allergic reaction.) I've also never had a desire to live on, or even visit a farm. I didn't even like the petting zoo as a kid. That said, I found those videos so repugnant I will never eat another factory-farmed animal product as long as I live *. The video titled "overlooked" explained how baby cows get to see their mother for one day before they are separated forever (can't let the baby cow have mommy's milk, when people need to drink it instead) and put into cages where they can't even turn around. Pigs, who some people say are as smart as dogs, go mad due to the tiny cages they are forced to spend their existence in. I can't really talk about it anymore, as I feel myself about to vomit. Just watch the movies. Please.

The recent scandal about mistreatment of factory farmed animals is nothing new to any of us. Tales of animal cruelty- birds' beaks being sawed off, animals being sliced while still alive- have been around for a while. The change, for me, is that I have decided to listen. For a while I managed to push the knowledge to the outskirts of my consciousness (and conscience, for that matter) and chose not to think of where the frozen chicken breasts actually came from. Being a mother has heightened my awareness of, and respect for, all forms of life. I know that animals don't have the same level of intelligence as human beings, I get that, but I also know that on a basic, primal level those animals have a desire to live, and move. I don't doubt that those mommy cows feel the loss of the babies they carried and nursed for the one day they were allowed their calf.

I have a been a vegetarian for a while- but loosely so. Last night I had a bite of Mohamed's chicken (we got take out) and I have still been buying milk (occasionally) and eggs (often). No more. I do feel sort-of panicked and lonely in my decision to be vegan. Even among my very "natural" friends here on the island, I don't know anyone who is vegan. I find part of me wishing I didn't know, wishing myself back into ignorance. But I do trust that as I live my life with increased awareness of the world around me, I will be happier and so will my family.

Anyone who reads this and watches the videos, would you please comment? If you eat meat and find my thinking too extreme, would you let me know? I would really like to hear the counter-argument to my thinking (not to criticize, I promise, just to understand).

*The asterisk above is to indicate that I will still follow the Lord's advice as revealed in the Word of Wisdom (the LDS instructions on how to care for our bodies). The scripture says:

nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; (animals, that is)
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

In other words- if I am starving to death in the middle of a frozen wasteland, I will certainly kill an animal to keep myself alive.

One more interesting scripture, for my fellow LDS friends:
21 And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.

Please note, I am also aware of the scripture, oft quoted against vegetarianism:

18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

And I'm honestly not really sure what it means? Seems like a double negative? Anyone want to chime in on that one?

Alright, I'm off to eat some more bananas and peanut butter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Yep, I care about the Earth, now. I'm becoming such a cliche.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Farewell, my sweet addiction

Goodbye, delicious chocolate cake. And brownies. And Mrs. Field's chocolate chip cookies. As of today I've added sugar to the list of foods that I don't eat. My addiction to sugar is so out of control that yesterday, in a pre-sugar fast binge, I made and ate almost an entire half-batch of chocolate chip cookies. It was not my finest moment.

So, friends, I am posting this to keep me accountable. I already made a bet with my parents, as we are all giving up sugar and caffeine, but a little extra support won't hurt. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

This past weekend was General Conference, a special time for members of our church, where we get to hear from our leaders via a worldwide televised conference. We had been talking to Amira all week long about the importance of General Conference, and had also spent time talking to her about the passing of our beloved former prophet, President Hinckley. As conference was about to begin we encouraged Amira to play close attention to the words of our new prophet and asked her, "Amira, do you remember the name of our new prophet?"

Without skipping a beat she gave us a big smile and said, "Yep. His name is Obama."
PS- if you are wondering what relevance the rather strange Moroccan picture has to this post- the answer is "none." See previous post for my "random picture" disclaimer.

Friday, April 4, 2008

So, what do you eat?!

It always makes me smile a little bit when I tell people I don't eat meat and their response is, "So what do you eat?!!!" Well, I eat all the other food that isn't meat. Mainly a whole lot of beans.
Becoming a vegetarian was like this, for me: my research into healthy-eating led me to decide I would only eat organically-fed, free-range meat. That kind of meat is both insanely expensive and very hard to find in Hawaii, so we just stopped buying/eating meat. Also, my religious beliefs advise that meat should be consumed during "times of winter, or of famine" and since it is always sunny here, and we aren't starving, I figured that supports my decision.

My primarily financial reasons for becoming a vegetarian have evolved, over time, to include many reasons to not consume meat. Here are a few of them:

- More than 70% of the grain raised in our country is used to feed farmed animals. "The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth. About 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone." quote from here

-I've done quite a bit of research on factory farming, and the way meat is raised and slaughtered in our country is terrible and disgusting. If you really want to stop eating meat, but don't know if you can kick the habit, try watching some of the mini-documentaries on youtube about slaughterhouses.

-Due to the way meat is slaughtered in our country, our meat supply is unsafe. Read Fast Food Nation for more information on that subject.

-It really bothers me to buy meat at the grocery store and have no idea where it came from. There is no way to know how the animal was slaughtered, how long ago the meat was processed, how long it has really been sitting on the store shelf.

Let me just add, that while we were in Morocco I did eat meat, without feeling guilty at all. In my mind it is very different to eat a goat that was raised by Mohamed's family, allowed to graze and wander around like goats were meant to do, and then ceremoniously and respectfully slaughtered. I still didn't love the taste, but at least I knew where the meat I was eating had come from, and how long the animal had been dead.

A few quotes on vegetarianism:

"The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? But rather, Can they suffer?" - Jeremy Bentham, 19th century Philosopher, Oxford University

"Many things made me become a vegetarian, among them the higher food yield as a solution to world hunger."– John Denver
And my favorite:
"You ask people why they have deer heads on the wall. They always say, ‘Because it’s such a beautiful animal.’ There you go. I think my mother’s attractive, but I have photographs of her." – Ellen DeGeneres