Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eating people

I’ve spent the last two weeks questioning my diet. What am I eating? Why am I eating what I’m eating? Is it right? Wrong? Does it matter?
As far as I can see, there are three areas which have to be considered when looking at food:

  • health (own health)
  • sustainability (planet’s health)
  • respect (for other living beings)

This is a fairly obvious one: If you want to be reasonably healthy, don’t eat crap food! A defrosted microwave meal is far inferior to a plate full of fresh ingredients. Organic oranges are far superior to those cheap ones that have been sprayed with highly toxic chemicals. It’s your choice what you put into your body, and your body will respond accordingly. Some things are less obvious though, for example milk. Over 75% of the population can’t digest lactose properly. Still we’re led to believe that a glass of milk will do us a lot of good. Any chance that this has to do with the influence of the dairy industry?

Without a functioning planet, we’re killing ourselves in the long run. Yet by eating the wrong food, we contribute heavily to the destruction of our living space. We litter the soil with pesticides and herbicides so that not even worms survive; we cut down the rainforest so that we can plant monocultures of GM crops to feed all those tasty cows and pigs and chickens; simple foods such as onions and grains are shipped around the globe so that a few big companies can maximise their profits – who cares about the cheap fossil fuels that are burnt in the process? All this is simply not sustainable. Either we change it voluntarily, or nature will change it for us, and that’s gonna hurt!

According to the church, it’s fine to eat animals. They’re soulless creatures who only exist to fill our stomaches. Needless to say that this is bullshit! We like to think that we are something better than all other living beings. But who gives us the right to think this way? Even worse, we abuse animals in a way that is embarrassing for the human race. Just because we don’t see with our own eyes the cruelty happening in industrial animal farms, doesn’t mean it’s a fairy-tale. Go and be a factory chicken for a day, with no light, no room to turn around, standing knee-deep in your own shit and not even getting a thank you for your services. Is this really the best we can do?

Here’s what I thought about all this the other day:

What to do?
As self-proclaimed civilized and conscious people, ethically we should all become at least vegans. The question is though: where do we stop? Eating meat, we kill animals. Eating dairy products, we steal the calf away from its mother. Eating potatoes, we destroy the plant. Maybe we should all get into sun gazing...

However, not doing anything isn’t a solution either. Now, I can hear already the masses screaming, ‘but I don’t have enough money to change!’ Well, if we’re really honest, most of the times it’s not about money, at least for the vast majority of us. Let's get it straight: We have enough cash to buy an extra pair of fancy shoes, the latest phone and more t-shirts to fill an already overcrowded wardrobe. But when we have to pay 1 or 2 Euros more for organic eggs, local honey or fairtrade coffee, we say we can't afford it? Yeah, right… Strange choices we make in life.

Each one of us has to make his or her own decisions. Some prefer radical changes, others a more flexible approach. Whatever you choose, let’s do something! As a consumer we have the power to change the world - by changing our own habbits. So here’s what I’ve decided for myself: As of now, I’m going to eat in a more respectful way. More respectful towards animals, the planet and myself as well. So I’ve established some basic rules concerning the food I consume:

  • Meat – no factory animals. Period. If the animal had a decent life and was killed without torture (eg without bleeding to death), I’ll consider it.
  • Fish – only locally caught fish. Nothing imported, nothing from big industrial trawlers.
  • Dairy – reducing the amounts I eat and using alternatives. Less cheese, less butter; more olive oil and more soya and milk from other plants (almonds, rice, etc.).
  • Eggs – only organic eggs, ideally from small farms. (I’m lucky because where I live, we have 20 happy chickens who share their eggs with us, not voluntarily, okay, but they’re treated very well. Plus, as I was told, eggs are a waste product – unless sat on...).
  • Honey – only from small-scale beekeepers.
  • Plants – if possible, local, seasonal and organic produce.
It’s not perfect, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction. Staying stuck in the status quo is not an option. And heading back towards cannibalism, hm, maybe not...

"I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized." – Henry David Thoreau

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