I’m making a pretty significant decision right now. You know how big it is a deal when someone announces that they’re going vegetarian? All those delicious and convenient meat-products are ruled out of the menu. That tasty sandwich, that delicious steak, that glorious glorious lasagne, gone. That’s pretty insignificant for a lot of people, and it can really screw up some mealtimes if you don’t cook for yourself.
The next step up might be considered veganism. That’s like, hardcore man. No animal products at all, ending a delicious rain of eggs, milk, chocolate and cheese. It takes a lot of conviction and a truly passionate person with a strong moral code to make the call to minimise their intake of animal-suffered food.
You can imagine then the kind of decision it is for such a strong-willed animal right’s activist to decide to go back to eating both animal products and meat. And ladies and gentlemen, this is the decision I have made today.
My friend Aaron linked me to an article on how a famous vegan blogger had been suffering many significant illnesses as a direct lack of her intake of meat and animal products. It was an incredible moral battle for her, but when she finally began eating omnivorously, her health went from dangerously poor to better than ever within the space of two months. To me, my decision is somewhat complex, but it aligns with the idea that it’s unnatural to cut out meat and animal products (henceforth shortened to AP) from your diet. Humans have always eaten meat and other AP throughout history- it’s what allowed us to develop a larger cerebral capacity than the other apes (according to Year 12 Human Bio). As my brother has argued time and time again, to deny the consumption of meat and AP is to deny part of humanity.
Life and death are forever linked. Life will inevitably require death, just as death will promote new life. As a swordsman, I should know better than anyone the choices that decide a living creature’s future, and the consequences of those actions. And it is naive, yes naive, to assume that one can live a full life without killing anything. We will always be surrounded by death, but it will now be my choice to accept this rather than reject it. And from that decision, I can choose what death I consider necessary and will honour, and what death I consider needless and despise/pity.
Aside from the necessary nutritional benefits (for the body is designed to break down certain foods, and it’s worse that I don’t take supplements so my body is deprived of many vitamins it really should be getting), veganism is apparently an unsustainable way of life. Although commercial farming, mass raising and slaughter is in my mind a terrible and needless action, so too is the destruction of natural environments all across the world to make room for growing grain and soy. My education in this area is lacking, but if I am to believe Tracy’s article, it is eating the locally grown (preferably wild) food of a region that is the greatest and most sustainable foodstyle choice a person can make. So despite my high moral intentions, veganism is not doing much to save the planet. And although my moral code has recently been very personal (as long as I myself do no bad action, then I have done the best I can for the world), protecting myself from doing evil is not going to stop the world from doing likewise.
So it is I have chosen the path of the mostly-vegetarian. That fickle in-between state of being vegetarian, when I feel like it. That is to say I will predominantly eat plant matter and other non-animal products, but once a day if I can, I will permit my body to indulge in whatever nutrients it needs. My condition is this: the animal or AP must have come from an animal that did not suffer unnecessarily for any extended period of its life. It will die eventually, and I will honour its sacrifice for my continued life. As long as it was as happy as can reasonably be expected (a rather subjective phrase that I will consider personally on a case-by-case basis), I will do my best to respect its life, and also its death. For example, if a chicken lives well in a farm, wandering freely and laying eggs as it pleases, I will have no objection to eating those eggs, nor that chicken. If it is raised in a barn for the sole purpose of laying as many eggs as possible in unnecessarily harsh conditions, I will avoid consuming such food as often as possible. If a pig has lived as full a life as a pig can, then I will have no moral objection to killing and eating it. If a piglet is brought into the world and slaughtered for a banquet, I will not indulge in its unnecessarily early death. This approach to omnivorous-ness will probably require much research into ‘free range’ animal and animal products, so as I begin this process, I will mainly continue my vegan diet.
Another condition I’m considering goes along the lines of the saying “If we each killed the animals ourselves we would all be vegetarians.” If I can look into the eyes of an animal and take its life, I will honour its experiences and have no objection to celebrating its death. This may take a while, especially if I am ever to eat a dog or any such animal I love very dearly. Because I know I’d love pigs and cows and lambs as much as any pet, but they too will die some day, and I must not flinch away from this.
Yet another condition I’m considering is paying respects to the life that was taken before every meal, be it fruit, vegetable, animal or the suffering (however mild) an animal had to go through to produce the product.
That’s all I have for now, but no doubt the next few days will be yet another significant and interesting transition in my food choices. I’ll let you know how it’s going further down the track once I’ve gained some perspective.
PS: Itadakimasu, as I was told, is a Japanese saying that is a way of opening a meal by saying thank you for the food. Yi Qian tells me that its origins are deeper than a simple “Let’s eat!” Its original translation is roughly along the lines of “Thank you for giving up your life so that I can continue mine.” I therefore strive to say it each and every time I eat something.