Over the past several years I've been an on again, off again vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, etc. I go back and forth, struggling with my morality and my love of cheese and my hatred of my ever expanding ass. In the end I always come back to the fact that I don't like the meat industry. I don't like any industry that causes harm to any living creature.
So where am I now?
I'm not going to try to classify myself. I guess I'll just say I'm doing the best I can. I'm trying to be mindful of what I buy, what I eat, and what my role in it all is. I'm trying to be honest with myself.
And honesty isn't always easy, especially when it's yourself you have to be honest with.
Every once in a while someone recommends a documentary or a website or something that reinforces my decision to try not to contribute to these industries. Someone posts a link or talks about it in passing conversation and I think to myself... oh no, I'm going to watch this or read this and I'm going to have more information and more moral dilemma.
Most recently it was Food, Inc. and Forks Not Knives. Both of these are incredible films that really have opened my eyes to what I'm really feeding my family and myself. They're also both available on Netflix and I can't recommend them enough.
In this time in history, we have so much education about food and the reality of what goes on in the meat industry. We have a wealth of information right at our fingertips about everything, really. It seems irresponsible to just shut my eyes and buy a package of ground beef at the grocery store when I know that I'm really buying a package of cruelty.
I hear people reason with me... or maybe with themselves... about how industry standards have improved or the cow doesn't think like you and I do or how all those films are sponsored by radical groups like PETA.
The industry is one that kills animals. Let's be honest with ourselves. They're not bringing Bessie into a nice, calm barn after she's lived a happy life grazing in the field and giving her a sedative so she falls into a happy, dreamy sleep before she's painlessly euthanized far away from any other cows that might witness the deed.
It's slaughter. There's a reason why they call it a slaughterhouse. It's scary, it's painful, and it's ugly.
And I really don't want to be a part of that.
I type this in the wee hours of the morning on the day before Thanksgiving. A day when I'll attend family functions where more than one turkey will be served, perhaps a pig, an overload of dairy products and probably a few chicken or cow parts thrown around, too. There was even talk this year about getting a Turducken. That's right. Why just kill one animal for our glutenous celebration when we can kill three and tie them all together!
And I'll be a part of it this year. I can't save the turkey that's being served at my in-law's or the one that's being served at my mom and dad's house. They're both already purchased and defrosting in a sink somewhere as I type.
This year I'll make pies. Pumpkin, Pecan, and Chocolate. And they'll contain evaporated milk and eggs and whatever they put in those Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts.* We'll top them with whipped cream and everyone will be joyous and merry.
What will I eat? I don't know. Perhaps I'll try to pick around and do the best I can with my options. Maybe I'll try to make a vegan pumpkin pie and top it with some coconut whipped cream. Perhaps I can find a couple of side dishes that aren't accented with bacon or heavy cream or cheese or italian sausage. There's a slim chance. I can have cranberry sauce, right? Or I might just have a couple of glasses of wine and dig in.
Maybe I'll try to bring a couple of vegan things along with me and hope that my family will give them a try and maybe, just maybe, not ridicule me too much for being "such a hippie" or just plain difficult.
It's not just outside of the home that I feel like I'm fighting the battle. It's within my own home, too. The Man is opposed to eating anything that doesn't involve things that had parents. Sure, he'll choke down a salad before his steak as long as it's got some creamy dressing, parmesan cheese, and bacon bits. He'll eat broccoli covered in melted cheddar. Asparagus? Bring on the Bearnaise sauce!
And the kids think they're being punished if they don't have cheese pizza, macaroni & cheese, grilled cheese, or cheeseburgers on a regular basis.
It's a constant battle. With the people I love and with myself. The last time I really went for a long stretch without meat, I cried because I wanted a hot dog so badly it hurt. Of all the things in the world, it was a hot dog that broke me.
So I'll try again. I'll do my best and if I fail I'll just pick myself up and try again.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. I truly hope you have a wonderful day filled with family and friends and laughter and love and all that makes a holiday wonderful. I know I will.
*Partially Hydrogenated Lard - mmmmm... pig fat pie. I can't wait!