I’ve been purposely eating fewer animals recently. What began as simply a health-related decision has been further reinforced by the issue of morality. I have compassion for living creatures that are unknowingly sacrificing what they hold most precious – their life, in order for us human beings to survive. It begs the question of whether or not it is even necessary. Think: TRUTHOLOGY. At the very least, can the line can be drawn at a more reasonable and sustainable point? I believe so! Animal agriculture is killing millions of animals for food each and every day….well into billions of animals per year. Take a moment and consider how many preserved dead animal carcasses are literally scattered around your community at supermarkets, restaurants, household refrigerators, etc. It’s a pretty morbid, yet fascinating thought. This is our socially accepted reality….which is particularly stunning considering the negative consequences of animal agriculture to our health and the health of our planet. Evaluating your diet and decreasing your consumption of animals by one meal per day, just one, is not a very extensive commitment and would make a big impact on your health and our global footprint. It has been relatively easy for me to accomplish this goal each day and I feel much better physically and mentally as a result.
Coming of age (x2)
I had an unanticipated conversation with my 5 year old daughter very recently. She is keenly aware of the transformation I made and has a decent understanding the foods that I choose to avoid. The other day she asked me why I do not eat hot dogs. Incidentally, this was my second opportunity to have “the talk” with her. The first time was when, during a meal at a younger age, she said the chicken she was eating is just called chicken, but it’s not a real chicken….as if the word chicken itself had two distinctly different meanings. It was at that moment that I realized there was a disconnect in her mind, because it was incomprehensible to her that we would eat animals. She didn’t have to express it any further….her words were naive, thought-provoking and powerful. She was as certain of her statement as her belief in the tooth fairy. I was not prepared to have this conversation and did not do well on my toes. While I squandered this opportunity to address the chicken comment, I was pleased to see it return to me once again with the hot dog inquiry. I considered the various responses I could give her, along with the amount of detail with which I would provide. I decided to go for it and just tell the truth. Knowing where her food comes is not a foreign subject matter to her. We visit the farmer’s market regularly and she has picked fruit at orchards many times in her life. Why should this be any different? Choosing to simply lie or gloss over it did not seem like a viable option to me, especially considering this second opportunity. I believe it happened for a reason. Plus, I felt as though she was now at an age that she could properly comprehend where hot dogs come from and make an intelligent choice as to where she stands on the matter.
The first thing I told her is that a hot dog is typically comprised of all of the unwanted parts of the cow after the good parts are used for steaks. This was my lead-in to seeing if she would actually follow that we are consuming animals for food. Once she acknowledged that fact, I transitioned to the simple idea of eating animals as food. She seemed quite interested and surprisingly not frightened by the idea at all. I admired her strength and felt very comfortable having this matter of fact discussion with my child. I shared with her my views as it pertains to what I eat and do not eat, which is a deliberate choice that I make. The next night at a friend’s BBQ she was offered a hot dog and she turned it down. We did not make a big deal out of it, but it was noticed. The next day, I shared this story with another friend and he openly criticized me for taking away from my daughter one of the highlights of an American childhood…..hot dogs. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, yet I did not feel guilty in the least. Since that day, she has been offered hot dogs and has accepted them on occasion. We have not purposely “steered” her away. And I am perfectly okay with this. There is nothing worse than putting pressure on a child, and all I did was teach and coach. I never had a moment like this as a child, or at least that I remember….and I am proud that however my daughter decides to eat will be done with thought and purpose. Her food choices will not be hiding behind the shadows of reality….because I saw a window of opportunity where I could either extend the illusion and further her desensitization OR be honest and teach. I am proud of the measures I took.
As an aside, here is a relatively balanced article on the recently published “Vegan is Love” book for children. Interesting read: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/04/19/childrens-book-encourages-vegan-lifestyle/