At the tender age of 17 – upon discovering the ridiculous amount of resources (grain, land, water, etc.) that were used to feed cows and chickens instead of directly feeding humans – I became a vegetarian. A year later I … Read More
At the tender age of 17 – upon discovering the ridiculous amount of resources (grain, land, water, etc.) that were used to feed cows and chickens instead of directly feeding humans – I became a vegetarian. A year later I went vegan. It was all so wonderful and confusing – being a young liberal college student surrounded by sexy dreadlocked activists and PETA literature. What else was I supposed to do?
During those early years, I dutifully cooked limp tofu stirfrys, checked my Ruby Red grapefruit juice for carmine coloring (which is made out of bugs, people!) and tried to convince my friends and family to change their flesh-loving ways – not an easy task considering I grew up in the meat-loving Midwest. Soon, I started to notice that I could not share a meal with other people without giving my "why I am a vegan" spiel. It was great to get the chance to express my views, but the whole thing started to grate on me. Couldn't I just eat for once and not talk about it? I also started to feel tired a lot so I started puting Bragg's Liquid Aminos on my and taking a calcium vitamin. Then one day my brother – a definite carnivore – said to me, "if you have to take a vitamin to get all your nutrients, are you really eating the right diet for yourself?" His words merely confirmed what my body was already telling me.
Now, eight years after first eschewing meat, I'm still a vegetarian – aside from an occasional craving for a corned beef sandwich, I just don't want it anymore. However, I happily eat eggs and drink all the milk I can get – though I buy my eggs from small scale farmers, and make sure my milk is organic and from pasture-fed cows or – at very least – anti-biotics and hormone free (I have enough raging hormones of my own, thank you).
My story, I think, is not unusual. More and more, vegetarians and meat eaters alike are clamoring for sustainably raised and produced foods that don't ravage the land and pay proper respect to the animals that so kindly share their goods.
The Jewish community is getting in on the action too – check out this article about the rising Kosher organic/pasture-fed meat craze in this week's Jewish Week. Or this one in the Washington Post from a couple of weeks ago (featuring a special bonus video).
The bottom line? Find out about where you food comes from and don't eat food that makes you guilty. But while you're out there fighting the good fight for animal welfare and ecological well-being, don't forget to take care of yourself. You can read more on this topic and just about everything else on Jews, food, and sustainability at The Jew and the Carrot.