Somewhat, seemingly, randomly, food has become a pretty forefront subject in my life. Lots of things converging all at once, urging me towards a deeper thinking on food. I feel like there are ebbs and flows in my life when it comes to considering eating habits. I was quite conscious of it back when we were members of a CSA in Tacoma. Then again, when we did Whole30. Recently there have been various things that have all come into my life regarding food. I got Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Dan mentioned wanting to pursue a vegetarian lifestyle. My good friend recommended the Jeong Kwan episode of Chef's Table on Netflix. And I'm super conscious of what I'm eating right now because I'm breastfeeding and trying to increase my milk supply so that I, in turn, can nourish our son.
Living in Alaska actually triggered a return to lazy, lax thinking and acting in regards to food. For one thing, Alaska isn't the mecca for community supported agriculture or small, organic farms in the same way that Western Washington was. While there are some prolific farms in Alaska during our short summer, winters are a bit of a food wasteland in terms of local, organic, sustainable produce. And really, to live sustainably, regarding foods, in Alaska means eating in the way the native peoples of Alaska do. Lots of hunting, foraging, and fishing. And lots of storing up for winter. The produce here is expensive and goes bad quickly. It comes from thousands of miles away.
There's also the psychological issues, for me at least, that come with living back in the house I grew up in, and feeling the pull back to eating how I used to eat growing up. And we obviously eat with my parents relatively frequently, at least once a week, and while my mom has occasionally wanted to shift towards a vegetarian lifestyle, it's hard to make that shift when not everyone in the household feels the same way, and you're the one who does most of the cooking.
So, there's the table with the cards, so to speak. But despite the barriers, having the support of my partner in pursuing a vegetarian, and maybe vegan, lifestyle is so crucial. In one way, it's just a nice accountability. Having someone else helping you remember the choice you made, and supporting one another to continue making that choice daily.
I know a lot of meat eaters find vegetarians annoying. I've been an omnivore almost my whole life, and even wrote an article for my college newspaper opinion column about how vegetarians aren't more compassionate than meat eaters after a friend posted a status stating as much. But here's the deal. I was defensive because, well, she was right. Every day I eat meat I choose to be an active participant in cruelty to animals. And as someone who loves animals, some with a fierceness I didn't know possible (I'm looking at you Dusty, goddamnit), that choice to eat animals came with a lot of purposeful forgetting. Forgetting the origins of the slab of meat on my plate. Forgetting the intelligence and sentience of the creature whose torture and slaughter I invested in when I made that meat purchase as the supermarket.
I've come to realize that one reason I've avoided confronting the issue of vegetarian vs. omnivore is that once I open the door to vegetarianism, it asks me to confront other lifestyle choices. If I'm committed to changing my diet for ethical/moral reasoning to do with animal welfare, then I also must address the issues regarding human welfare in the clothing manufacturing industry. If I'm committed to changing my diet for sustainability/environmental reasons, I also must confront the issues of fast fashion's contribution to pollution. If you've been around the blog for a while you remember my commitment to buying only secondhand, vintage, or ethically/sustainably manufactured clothing that I made a few years back. I've been pretty good about it until recently, mostly with buying clothes for Jack. Damn you, Target, and your cute baby clothes. It's hard when you're excited about your kid and want to get him all the cute things. You push out of your mind that commitment you made. And with myself, I don't buy a lot of clothes anymore since I'm not a fashion blogger like I used to be, posting outfits daily. My wardrobe is a fraction of what it used to be back in my heyday of style blogging (and a lot of it is in storage in Washington right now, since I couldn't fit into much of it being pregnant last year). But I recently shopped at Forever21 and H&M and I'd be lying if I didn't feel the twinge of guilt knowing that I was fulfilling a selfish desire for some new, postpartum clothes on the backs of the people who were exploited to make those clothes.
So really, for me, it's a bigger commitment than just not picking up meat at the grocery store or restaurant anymore. It's a question that cuts through the bullshit of doublethink and willful ignorance and forces me to confront the things I engage in everyday and how those actions affect my world. The world I live in, and the world I will have to one day hand down to my son. And beyond that, it's modeling the values that I want to pass on to my son as well. Valuing other humans, animals, and the planet more than my own selfish desires and appetites.