Sometimes the paths we take are a winding road.
I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater. I even experimented once with vegetarianism in college, but in those days (pre-internet) it wasn’t easy to find information on how to make that work well so it didn’t take.
When our daughter was about 6 months old and ready to start eating solid foods, my husband and I decided to go organic with the food we prepared at home. We are lucky because one of the best organic food co-ops in the country is right here in our neighborhood – Outpost Natural Foods.
One of the things that Outpost does really well is to educate you about your food choices. I started to learn more about where the meat we ate came from, and the challenges family farms have (and conversely, the damage factory farms cause). I read books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and saw films like Vegucated. And once you start educating yourself about the food you eat, you find quickly there is a lot we take for granted in the US that is just plain wrong. How we treat farm animals in this country, to enable us to have “cheap” meat, is one if them.
When you start considering the REAL cost of this “inexpensive” protein, in terms of the toll on the environment, the animals, and the bodies and souls of the humans who process it, you start to look askance at deals that seem too good to be true.
I had a bit of a dilemma. We’re meat eaters. We LOVE our meat. But I also have a conscience, and learning about how mass produced meat and eggs are really produced makes you not want to support that business model. And when I realized that becoming a vegan isn’t going to be able to move the needle, because it’s too challenging of a lifestyle to ever reach mass acceptance and ultimately kill factory farming, I decided that I would instead have to find another way to put my money – literally – where my mouth is.
If you, like me, are lucky enough to have discretionary income – enough money that you can go out to eat at restaurants occasionally, buy some $3 cup of coffee at the local coffee shop every morning before work, and have high-speed internet access at your house, then you have enough money to have the luxury of making REAL choices about the food you eat. You can afford to speak for the animals, if you so choose, and that is certainly the choice I and my family have made.
Only recently did I learn that my choices had a name – humaneitarianism. The premise is simple – only eat meat when you know that the meat has been humanely raised and processed (the Humaneitarian.org web site has great information on what that means, and help for you to determine what that means for you), and if you don’t know that the meat has been humanely raised and processed, then forego meat for that meal. Spend more per pound on the meat you choose to eat (you will have to to support the local, family farms that raise and process animals humanely), but just eat less meat overall. In the end, if more people chose to be humaneitarian, the better our health would be, the better our environment would be, and the better our communities would be. Isn’t that worth it?