Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Talking Turkey

I finished reading Eating Animals and wow- it was horrific and eye opening at the same time. So am I a vegetarian now? Well, no, but I am going to give up factory farmed meat. That means I'll be going semi-veg since it's hard to find, let alone afford, conscientiously raised meat on a regular basis. But that's OK, because this jives with another book I read recently called The Blue Zones. That book talks about how the longest lived people on the planet got to be the longest lived people on the planet, and one factor is a largely, but not necessarily exclusively, plant based diet. The Sardinians, for instance, only eat meat on special occasions. That sounds like a workable plan to me so that's what I'm going to aim for.

I've been buying only organic beef for years now, I've always avoided veal like the plague, I would rather die than eat foie gras, and I buy only free range/organic eggs so this is a natural extension of the choices I've been making to date. The beef thing started as a result of reports about mad cow disease but the veal, foie gras, and eggs were always about animal cruelty. (The kids have asked why I only buy brown eggs; I tell them it’s because they are mean to the chickens that make the white eggs. Unfortunately they are also mean to the chickens that make the brown eggs, according to the book.) I also don't eat octopus because I saw a documentary that demonstrated how intelligent they are, just to throw that out there.

I guess I should have gone veg years ago but I never could figure out what the heck to eat and feed my family without that meat based main dish. I'm learning that it's actually not as complicated as I was making it out to be. Get a couple of vegetarian or vegan cookbooks, look through them, pick out a few recipes and go to it. I started quite accidentally along this path with a cookbook called Apocalypse Chow which I purchased because it's a survival manual for eating well in post-hurricane conditions. (I’m big on hurricane preparedness.) We tested out several of the recipes and found we really liked Beat the Blahs Black Bean Patties, so we now have that meal an average of once a week. Then I found Meatless Monday and we expanded our meatless meals to a few more options. Next a friend invited me to a raw foods class, which was a lot of fun, and my eyes were opened to a great way to, um, uncook. That same friend made the switch from a traditional diet to vegan which is very inspiring. (She made the switch after watching Food, Inc, which we have from Netflix but haven't watched yet). Now I’ve read Eating Animals and I can’t stick my head in the sand anymore. Factory farming is cruel and horrible and I can no longer support it with my dollars. When I feel it necessary to eat meat I will pay more for animals that were raised with a minimum of cruelty with a goal of special occasions only.

Now here’s how I’m doing so far. We went out to eat for lunch and I ordered a lentil and bean soup. Turns out it had bacon in it so I gave it to DH. (I did eat some of it before I realized; it was really good too, darn it.) My main course was a Tomato Pasta Pomodoro which was vegetarian as far as I could tell, and was also delicious. We went out to lunch because it’s The Middle Child’s 9th birthday (happy birthday, Sweetheart) and she also requested a special meal for dinner, Delicious Beef and Potatoes. Well, it’s a special occasion so off to Whole Foods we went, where I bought grass fed beef for the recipe. (Screwed up on the food miles thing, though; I realized the sign said “from Australia” after I ordered it. Sigh.) While I was there I also ordered a free-range organic turkey for Thanksgiving and the guy PROMISED me it was humanely raised. So it’s a sputtering start, but a start nonetheless. I have a feeling this is going to be a learning process all around, but I’m up for it!

*On a side note, when I was ordering the turkey I started chatting with the guy at Whole Foods and mentioned we rented Food, Inc. but haven't watched it yet. He's seen it and he said whatever we do, DO NOT WATCH IT BEFORE THANKSGIVING!! ;)

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