There’s a little voice in all of our heads, that voice is the voice of reason, it lets us know the right path in life. Sometimes we drown out that voice and continue down the wrong path. That voice doesn’t give up though, it only gets louder and finally you listen. I am sorry to say I’ve been drowning that voice out for too long, it’s time to listen.
For the past decade I’ve indulged myself in devouring each and every book I could find on the subject of the food industry (a few dozen). With subjects ranging from organic vegetable farming, grocery store politics to the horrors most animals suffer (99%) in their path to our dinner plates. I’ve had the proverbial curtain lifted away and I’ve seen the reality that is modern factory farming. I have learned the pitfalls of agriculture in today’s world and have learned how those who work in the industry abuse the rights of their workers and animals all to turn a buck faster, quicker and cheaper. The things I’ve read about would bring up your dinner in a heartbeat. They enter my mind at odd hours, and speak to me when making food choices daily.
What I have finally been able to admit is that I haven’t done enough, as much as I have wanted to do to end my contribution to that world. We vote with our dollar, literally we are farming with each food choice when you think about it. I have said for years that I want to only eat meat/poultry that has been raised and slaughtered humanely. I’ve explored what the term ‘humane’ means to me, and have come up with a pretty comprehensive definition. Humane to me means that when animals give their life to us for consumption we should in return care for that animal in their life and in their death. This means not only doing the bare minimum but to exceed that and create a happy life for these animals. To allow them to be the animals they are, providing for their most natural instincts. Whether it be a dust bath for a chicken, grazing for a cow, a clean sleeping spot for a pig or the joy of nuzzling their offspring. Just because they end up on our dinner plates does not mean they don’t deserve to live their lives happily, seeking sunshine, companionship and rearing their young. Isn’t this image exactly what we think of farming anyhow?
For too long I’ve accepting and ordered food without really knowing where it came from. I’ve let the inconvenience rule and the desire for the dish take over my true feelings of conviction. I won’t do this any longer. Don’t get my wrong, I have worked hard to seek out meat from responsible sources but when it’s “too hard” I give up and simply eat. This is what needs to end.
Eating humanely is not like any other diet, where you can sneak cookies and only hurt yourself in the end. Giving up your morals in this instance is allowing another animal to be hurt and tortured. There is no doubt in my mind. Some 99% percent of meat/poultry in this country is raised on factory farms. Repeat that out loud, 99%. There is no way anyone is exempt from eating factory farmed meat unless they are a vegetarian or they only eat meat that they have learned it’s source. And there is NO factory farm that treats their animals humanely. NONE. It is an oxymoron. Life on a factory farm is hell on earth. Most animals never see the light of the sun, and if they do it’s only as they peak their head out of the truck on their way to slaughter. They are systematically abused by workers (in ways that would bring tears to your eyes) and often not even killed properly.
Kevin and I have been very active in trying to find our food sources for years, but on occasion we just eat blindly. The voice inside my head has become so loud I can’t not listen anymore. I am in the middle of reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. He describes how being an ethical and responsible carnivore is harder in our society than being a vegetarian because people can handle vegetarians much easier because it makes sense to them. And more importantly it doesn’t shine the spotlight on their eating habits as much. For me to refuse a meal at someone’s house because I am vegetarian seems normal these days, oh, here’s the alternate veggie meal. Even on airplanes you can choose a vegetarian meal, but nowhere can you check of ‘Ethical.’ To turn down food and explain that you are uncomfortable eating this meat because of where it’s sourced is much sticker. Especially if you’ve been spotting eating responsible meat you can’t even lie and say you’re not eating meat anymore.
This journey requires much more than choosing organic labeled items. I've learned those don't show the whole picture. This is about reaching out to companies, restaurants and finding out the truth about what I am eating. I have the right to know don't I?
So, here I go, embarking on yet another adventure. When I look into my 5 month (!) old daughter’s face I see all that is pure, hopeful and beautiful about this world, and the last thing I want to do is start her off with bad karma. It may sound hokey, but so what. I don’t care. I’m her mama and I’m always going to trust me gut. She will eat the most wholesome food that I can afford, and if that means meat only a few times a month, so be it. She’ll learn to love other proteins. Unlike us, she doesn’t have food memories yet. She doesn’t have to ‘kick the habit’ so to speak. Maybe she’ll teach us a thing or two, she already has in many other ways…
I can’t say I won’t stumble and choose to eat blinding again, but I promise myself, and my family that this is a priority worth keeping.