6/21/12

the vegetarian experiment: an end, and not an end.



i have officially ended my vegetarian experiment. well, the experiment technically didn't officially end... it just sort of happened that a few days after our last yoga class, i attended an event with paul which was catered by a wonderful wellington county caterer, which featured meats produced by small, local, and ethical farms. when they passed around lamb grilled to perfection, and i found out it was from thatcher farms, i just couldn't resist. i ate some. yum. and then i ate some more.

you might remember my love affair with thatcher farms from when i lived in guelph, and still to this day they are one of my favourite businesses of all time. they are a family farm which raises lamb, and they have a cute little store on-site that sells everything from their own lamb and meat pies to homegrown honey and pure maple syrup. thatcher farm is the opposite of the farms you read about in the horror stories that come out of factory farming operations. if the world was a perfect place, every farm would be like thatcher, and every farmer would be like dana, who is one half of the grown-up part of the thatcher family, and one of the nicest people i've ever met.

sadly, our world is far from perfect, and there are hundreds of disgusting, horrible factory farms for every delightful small family farm. there are thousands of animals that are treated cruelly and live lives of suffering in operations that are closer to storage facilities than proper homes for farm animals, for every one animal that is treated humanely on a small farm. and for this reason, i have decided to continue, on a permanent basis, my life as a vegetarian.



i never (ever) thought when i was starting my vegetarian experiment that the result would be that i would decide to openly give myself the label of "ethical vegetarian" but that's what happened. and it was much easier than i ever imagined it would be. it just got too hard to have to ask servers, grocery store clerks, business owners, and customer service representatives where their food was sourced from and whether they knew how it was raised. most didn't. seriously... most of these people didn't even know where the food they were selling actually came from. to me, that is appalling. usually, if i was asking about where a milk product (for example, the cream cheese in the icing of prairie girl's cupcakes*) came from, the most detailed answer i could get was "canada," and it was said in a reassuring way, as if at least knowing it came from my country was enough (it's definitely not). i know that, for most restaurants, asking about meat sources results in the same kinds of vague answers. the vast majority of restaurant websites that i visit make no mention of where their food comes from. and i'm tired of asking. so i'm just not going to eat it.

after reading some of the accounts from people who have worked in factory farms (read jonathan safran foer's eating animals or kathy freston's veganist for some of these accounts, or you can just google "factory farms info" for what i'm sure will be more than enough information), i knew i could never go back to eating mass-produced meat or animal products (milk, eggs, cheese, etc). the things that go on in these factory farms are actions that i want nothing to do with. and i realized after four months of not eating animals, and then enjoying an ethical burger and thinking it was no tastier than the veggie burgers i'd been grilling up, that i didn't really have much of a desire to going back to eating meat. our vegetarian lifestyle has opened up so many other delicious meal options... black bean & sweet potato enchiladas, curried lentil soup, pasta with sheep's ricotta (i love the ladies at best baa farm!) & homemade tomato sauce... that i didn't feel the need to fill my plate with meat for lack of better options.



in terms of other reasoning behind a vegetarian diet, kathy freston's findings have really been reinforcing the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and it all sounds pretty good to me (protection against cancer? reversing the effects of heart disease? less heaviness and more regular digestion, both of which i've already noticed?)... yes, please! since beginning my vegetarian diet, i've already noticed that i've lost weight, i feel lighter and more energetic, and i feel happier. my digestion has improved immensely, and i get heartburn way less often now... i used to have it every day!

so in conclusion, i think i'm finally ready to open my arms wide and fully embrace ethical vegetarianism. this means no more meat, and only eggs & dairy from small local farms that are transparent enough that i'm comfortable buying from them. right now, in toronto this list only includes sheep cheese, sheep yogurt, and eggs from the farmer's market... which is okay with me. i'm slowly reducing my consumption of eggs and dairy, and who knows... maybe one day i'll become officially a vegan! for now, these seem like the right choices to make. i may eat a little meat at special occasions (but momma, just so you know, you'll be buying an organic turkey from a small local farm this year!) because for me, meat is still intrinsically linked into the traditions of christmas and other holidays, but those decisions are ones i'll make consciously as i come across them, and i am happy knowing that i have made the choice to control what comes into my body, and that i'm making choices with the best health of myself, my community, and my planet, and all the creatures that live here with us, in mind.



{photos  from the st. lawrence farmer's market. yay!}

*side note: i have asked prairie girl to consider making a vegan cupcake, for those of us who don't want to eat mystery milk & eggs, or to consider buying their animal products from smaller farms where the animals aren't kept in cycles of constant suffering. because really, prairie girl makes some of the best cupcakes i've ever tasted, rivalled almost exclusively by LPK's delicious vegan products, which would have long-ago made me fat if they were within walking distance of my apartment the way that prairie girl is. unfortunately, prairie girl has said they have no plans to offer either of these options in the near future, and so i guess i'll have to just stock up on LPK's vegan goodies whenever i get the chance. but trust me, stocking up on LPK's incredible nanaimo bars, cupcakes, and other goodies and keeping them in the freezer will be worth it! i've been finding a few other bakeries that feature or exclusively sell fantastic vegan products, and i'll start sharing some of those with you soon!

3 comments:

  1. wow, I really wish we could get together over coffee and talk about this! Have you watched the documentary Food Fight? (it's on Netflix). I have been watching food docs like crazy, haha. i have developed a serious passion about nutrition and making conscious decisions about what I eat over the past month. (I'm actually drafting a blog post about this right now). I am still eating meat, but now only about once a week and I have switched to organic. Would definitely like to find a local farm I can get my meat from though. I've started going to Eastern Market in Detroit so that I can get as many things locally as possible. I found cheeses from a local farm, organic non-GMO popcorn, organic coffee, and organic bread last time I went. They have so many amazing choices, it is so exciting. You will have to share some vegetarian recipes on here. My latest favorite is roasted eggplant rounds with a bruschetta topping. Like you, I have felt amazing as a result of my new eating habits. Excited for you!

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  2. this sounds amazing!

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  3. I'm glad you've made a choice that makes you feel comfortable! I think that's the biggest thing - exploring how you feel and what your options are and then finding a balance that works for you.

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