Sunday, January 6, 2013

I'm Afraid We Can No Longer Meat Like This


Growing up in a small farming town just south of the Mason Dixon line, I saw and visited many farms in my youth.  I'll even admit to you that I enjoy the smell of cow manure on a summer morning.  Birds and cicadas singing, dew on the royal blue Bachelor's Buttons and grass, and cow manure in the air is a sweet memory etched in my mind.  I don't expect those of you who didn't grow up in a rural area to understand; and maybe those of you who did don't share my olfactory senses, but it's something I long for to this day.  You see, I always wanted to be a farmer.  I wanted the lifestyle where hard work in duck boots was a must, but there was a simplicity that filled the days.  As an adult I daydream about it.  If I ever have a far-off look in my eye, I'm walking between my farm house built in the 1800s and my stone and brick-red barn. 

My fondness for farm life left me with an idyllic picture of where our food was grown and raised which has now been destroyed by my penchant for documentaries. Our family loves documentaries; even the young ones will sit on the couch and enjoy a vicarious glimpse into someone's life or an unknown process. Since I began working part time in the evenings last year, Brian has been watching a ton of food docs without me. He fills me in on the details of the films when I get home and I am always shocked by the information. Commenting on the injustice is where it stopped with me. His words were alarming, but not revolutionary. I continued to eat "normally" turning a blind eye to the stories he had shared, but Brian wanted change. I finally agreed about six months ago to no longer cook dinners at home with meat. This was huge sacrifice on my part since I love burgers and the mere thought of chicken tacos makes me salivate. It has been a hard adjustment, to say the least, since I was raised believing that it wasn't a meal unless there was meat served. I didn't have a reference point for the new meal planning that needed to be done, thank goodness for the internet! However, not being able to recognize half the ingredients listed on some of the vegetarian websites was frustrating and I was easily discouraged. Over time I found a few good recipes, but our meals no longer held the variety of our omnivore days. We would go to a restaurant I would order the real deal meat without a second thought. I figured that limiting my meat intake was beneficial enough and I could enjoy a bacon burger every now and again. That was until...Vegucated.

I watched a food documentary called Vegucated that showed not only the health benefits of a vegan diet, but also looked at the treatment of animals on the "farms" that raise the meat we eat...and it rocked my world! The neighborhood farms of my youth are unfortunately not the ones supplying my food. The local 4-Her is not raising their steer for In n' Out, rather huge corporations and government have stripped the definition of farming down and all that remains are dollar signs and inhumane practices. Animals are being abused for our culinary pleasure, people! My mind immediately thought about all the times I never got around to browning the ground turkey in my fridge and it went in the trash. At that moment I realized a turkey raised in a grossly overcrowded barn, that endured having his beak cut off, died in vain. I was sickened. One video turned me from Farm proponent to PETA avenger overnight. The thing that sealed the deal for me were the pigs in the film. Being around animals I know how intelligent pigs are and to see the situations they were exposed to, broke my heart. You could actually see the fear in their reactions. Bewildered by my oblivion all these years left me with the realization that I can no longer in good conscious eat meat.

This is part of the reason I have taken up the proverbial pen again. To share our story. To be honest I have a crazy mess of feelings going on. I'm mourning the thought of no longer eating burgers. It sounds dumb, I know, but it's a real feeling going on inside my head. I'm afraid I'll fail too. I mean, can lazy vegetarian moms even exist? Is this one of my phases, like the time I stopped shaving my legs to take a stand against men's preferences in our U.S. culture? That lasted only 2 months before I bought a new Bic and looked less French. Will I waiver and think, "Pigs aren't that smart. Please pass the bacon?" I certainly hope I've matured past my fickleness, but I've done it in the past making it a possibility in the present. This movie has made me think I shouldn't wait for my dream farm, but I should begin to move toward the ideal I remember of neighboring farmers. Self sufficiency, kindness, stewardship, and meeting the needs of others through abundance. It makes sense. It probably won't be as I envision it, but little in this life is. As I attempt to blog again you can witness my failures, my attempts, and hopefully my successes as I try to change how I feed my large family.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My little family was on the vegetarian path until we watched Vegucated. It really is a powerful documentary. Since watching it we've made as many vegan choices as possible, and will continue to take baby steps in the right direction. Wishing you sweet wishes and success!

VanillaP

goofytortuga said...

Good luck!

If you feel the need to have meat again, I have a friend who buys grass fed beef. I am thinking (not that I know for sure) that it is a little more animal friendly than the store bought stuff?

Lifebythe Handful said...

Thanks, VanillaP! We are going to try to make more vegan choices. I made rice milk this weekend. No one was impressed. I just bought coconut and we are going to try to make coconut milk next. I figure even if we can supplement and reduce the normal 4+ gallons of milk we drink a week now, will be beneficial.

Lifebythe Handful said...

Hi Kim, You are right that grass fed is not only better for your body but also grass fed animals have a much happier life. I watched another great doc called "Fresh". It talked about the advantages of grass fed organic versus what is on store shelves. I think if I do fall off the wagon, I'll try to wind up in their "field". ;)

Ashley Cruz said...

The photo and first paragraph of this post took me to a fairy tale land! I've always loved the farming living idea. Though I'm too prissy to survive it. :)