April 12, 2009

I just read John Robbins second book, Food Revolution, and was both horrified and inspired. The ethics of American business have fallen so low, and the respect for our citizens is so diminished, I feel like a factory farmed animal even living here. Why is it other countries governments go to such length to protect their citizens from harm, and ours works tirelessly to keep us from knowing the harm to which they are subjecting us? Why would our government officials and big business do this?

Profit.

Sell more beef, even if it is riddled with chemicals, hormones and antibiotics, the long range effects of which are unknown. Make better profit margins on crops that whose DNA has been altered using all sorts of DNA from other species.

I knew alot of what was mentioned in the book, but I did appreciate John Robbins pointing out that to eat a plant-based diet, besides all the enormous health benefits, puts him in line with his values.

Living in this ‘free’ country while animals suffer so profoundly and the rich seem to have all the political power they want is bad enough, the last thing I need is to get confused about what is right or wrong for me personally.

I’ll continue to forgo the animal products, and now search through ingredient lists on boxes looking for hidden frog DNA in my soybeans, but mostly I’ll feel confident that i’m living in accordance with what I believe, and that is something that does make me proud.

Things I Never Thought

March 14, 2008

03-04-winter-preseason-31.jpgI’ve been (re) vegetarian for a year and ‘high’ raw for almost two months now. It’s been great saving energy, reducing waste, regaining some level of fitness and educating our family. What I didn’t expect to have happen is that I would fall in love with my dog.

9 years ago I rescued a mangey looking little pup from the local animal shelter. He was sort of a ranch dog and completely a mutt, meaning the local ranchers could not trust him with their cattle but he would need a sh*tload of exercise. At the time I was running marathons and took him in as a perfect companion.

Life changes, kids happen, marathon running takes a backseat to diapers, nursing, cleaning etc. And my little buddy sort of got the shaft.

Until I rediscovered vegetarianism. And an amazing, informative podcast called Food for Thought. Suddenly all the animal cruelty from meat consumption had a face, and the face was my rotten little dog that I had forgotten was always at my side in our younger years.

I started running again in the fall, and since going raw have been feeling so much more energetic and at peace with my food choices. I pass cows in the pasture where I live and don’t have to compartmentalize my feelings of sadness for them, because I don’t eat them or their secretions anymore.

I can look at my dog and know that i’m giving him the best life possible, that I respect who he is and the we are equals, he and I. I’m not really the master – thanks to vegan living. Veganism really is a lifestyle of expansion – one of love, self-respect and nurturing all living things. It’s a lifestyle I never expected would make me fall in love with my dog all over again.

Choices

February 11, 2008

ocean-garbage.jpgFollowing a college trip to Taiwan, a friend of mine decided on a vegetarian lifestyle after seeing the way animals, even sea creatures were brutally handled and killed by locals to sell. Upon returning to America, she promptly bought a copy of Diet for a New America and was maniacal about the food purchased and consumed. Fast forward 15 years and you will see my friend now jokingly refer to herself as an opportunivore, meaning, if she gets the opportunity to eat meat that smells good, she does it.

While I also strayed for a while from my college vegetarian days, I have returned to that lifestyle, and now work at incorporating a raw vegan diet into my world. It saddens me that with age, my friend has forgotten the reasons for embracing vegetarianism that were so important to us long ago, especially now that we all have children, now that the secret regarding global warming is out, now that the decisions we make each and every day may have disastrous effects on the world we will leave our children.

Being vegetarian is not easy, not to mention being vegan, or god forbid, raw vegan. But I cannot pretend my choices don’t mean that down the road, someone else will pay. Are we so selfish that eating a piece of bacon is worth the suffering of the pig in the contained feedlot, the methane rising into the atmosphere, the energy required to slaughter and process the pork, the fossil fuels used to truck the meat to market, the paper purchased to wrap the food in a neat little take away bag. All because the bacon smelled good.

I’m not a perfect vegan. I eat cheddar cheese goldfish with hummus when i’m ravenous and am laboriously chopping veggies for a raw salad. But i’m not laughing about allowing myself the spontaneity to choose what to eat as it strikes me. Just because I can choose to eat animal flesh doesn’t mean I should. There are a million things available to me that I would not think of consuming, why is it so hard for people to do the same with meat?

At the end of all this global warming, trash heaps mounting, fossil fuels dwindling state is just one person, making a decision many times each day, each hour, each minute, that will forever leave a mark on this planet. What choices will you make today that aren’t the easiest, fastest or yummiest, but will give our children a chance at a world of green lush forests and fresh air. A place where were animals are reverred, not beaten.

Whatever you choose, let’s not pretend it is no big deal. This is a huge deal, and may be the last deal whose ending we get to choose.

In the Raw

February 8, 2008

Of all the things we have done as a family to lessen our impact on the environment, the most important and dramatic has been changing our diet. Initially, I switched our home to a vegetarian diet after watching the meet you meat video and started to incorporate more organic and locally grown produce whenever possible (not entirely easy in the Colorado Rocky Mountains). The change was seemless and while it did not reduce our grocery bill, I felt good about our efforts.

Recently, following a NY Times article reiterating some of the things I knew about the effects of cattle rearing on our planet, I began looking deeper into my food consumption habits. Christmas, of course, was a time of indulgence and I awoke in January feeling as if Santa had actually run me over with his sleigh. Poking around the internet let me to the raw food movement.

The theory behind raw or living foods is that the cooking process destroys the beneficial enzymes that live in the food, and since our bodies have a limited supply of these essential enzymes, we must obtain them from living food. There is a wealth of knowledge about the living food world available but I have found Raw Reform to be inspirational, educational and actually humorous.

Currently I make breakfast and lunch my raw meals, and chose a healthy, whole grain dinner that I am able to fix for the whole family. So far it is working out, however, I have struggled with feeling cold and hungry more than I am accustomed to. I do attribute this to the 30 feet of snow that has fallen in my town this season though, and know that my mind is adjusting to eating less just as much as my body.

It’s a fascinating journey and I hope the way my daughter will look at food as she grows into her own decision making years will be forever changed by the lessons she is learning in our home.

Animal Prisons

December 27, 2007

smalllion.jpgThe concept of putting wild animals in cages for the enjoyment of people has always made me sad, and more than a little disgusted. Circuses, zoos and rodeos top the list of things that horrify me but are deemed ‘entertainment’ to other people, and i’ve never really understood it.

Last year I urged our local free paper (not the local ‘news’ paper) to do an article on how the rodeo is akin to dogfighting in its gross mistreatment of animals, but the editor told me to write it myself and send it in. Obviously, I am no journalist and thus deleted his response without a second thought.

But now I read the headlines about a tiger escaping from it’s pen and killing someone, I feel compelled to revisit my awful feelings of horror that scream ‘why the hell are we surprised when a wild animal breaks free from it’s prison and mauls someone’. Why do people find pleasure in strolling through caged arenas of animals that should be free?

I’m not a total party pooper, I have a child who I am certain would love seeing all the animals in a circus or zoo. But I can’t pretend that these places don’t send a message to her, one that says we humans still see ourselves as superior creatures, ones who have the right to mistreat others for our own gain.

If we don’t eat the animals because they are penned up and mistreated in confined feedlots, why would we go see them locked away in cages at a zoo just for fun?

The first time I found scat outside our house, it was vaguely exciting. The notion that a ferocious bear was creeping outside my window as I slept peacefully only feet away was exhilarating. The next morning, however, when our neighbors trash was strewn about their driveway, I was less enthusiastic. And when the bear, on his nightly rounds, found something in our trash (raw cookie dough to be precise), I felt horrible.

Garbage Kills Bears

The cookie dough itself isn’t really harmful when ingested, but bears easily become addicted to eating out of garbage cans, which puts them in direct contact with populated neighborhoods. A few calls to authorities about a bear stalking the area inevitably means the destruction of the bear.

Let’s get this straight: we move to a mountain town, buy a home as close to the forest as possible, leave our garbage can outside, unprotected, and the bear has to be killed for eating out it. That’s how it is in Skitown, USA.

I am NOT proud that it took a bear spilling our garbage onto the driveway to figure out I needed to put the can on lockdown for the safety of all involved. And our neighbors STILL have not gotten the picture, since for over a week straight I have found the remnants of their trash blown onto our yard. I can even hear the bear testing the chain that I installed on our container outside on some nights.

It’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s easy – here is what you do.

1. Go to the hardware store and purchase two double end bolt snaps, two 5/16″ X 4″ eye bolts, 4 nuts and 4 washers that fit on the eye bolt and one 3 foot section of heavy chain link. Total cost: under $10.

2. Drill 2 holes in the body your garbage can. One on one side of the lid about halfway back and one on the other side.

3. Put one nut and one washer on the eyebolt, push it into the hole you just drilled. Inside the can, screw the other washer and nut onto the eyebolt. Repeat on the other side.

4. Attach one end of the snap bolt to the eye bolt you just screwed into your garbage can, attache the other end to the piece chain. Pull the chain snuggly across the lid of your garbage can and repeat on the other side.

Eye Bolts Inside the Can Bear Proof Can

Your trash can is now bear resistant and you, too, can enjoy the rattling of the chain outside your window knowing that you have not fed the garbage addiction of a bear who really needs to head back up to the mountain and look for berries. This is so cheap, and so easy, I may just install this for our neighbor before the police start showing up with guns drawn.