Thursday, April 13, 2006

Piggy's off the menu

Jim and I have been meandering towards vegetarianism for some time now. Not with any great intention and will, not with any pamphlets in hand, or soapbox. We've just been tapering off. We used to buy those individually fresh-frozen chicken breasts all the time in the big bags, but gradually the gargantuan size of them, the sheer hormone-induced monstrosity, began to gross me out. As I chewed, disgusting thoughts would come to mind (pardon me, but thoughts of pus, and of beaks lying shorn off in a heap), and I'd leave the hunk of flesh uneaten. We scarcely buy chicken anymore, and then only organic, but now there are reports coming out about what a sham organic labeling is, and I hesitate to buy that anymore.

I'm not opposed to the idea of animals eating other animals. I think it's among the most natural things in the world, up there with sex, childbirth, and buying books. But there's nothing natural about factory farming. They are places of great filth and unfathomable suffering, things I do not want my mouth and body to be complicit in. Last Sunday Jim and I went with Kelly to an art rummage sale at the Doug Fir, a hip music club in town, and Jim bought a zine called Invincible Summer by a local artist/writer named Nicole J Georges. It's a charming, funny read, filled with her wonderful drawings and self-portraits, and I was extremely moved by her account of the month she spent volunteering at Farm Sanctuary, a place in Orland, California that rescues animals from factory farms and nurtures them like valuable living creatures, rather than McNuggets-in-progress. Wow. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say, piggy is off the Easter menu. It's not like I didn't know this stuff before, but something about the way she wrote and drew about her experience, was enough for me to finally say, Okay. That's it. Pass the vegan meatballs please.

(Jim and I have already been practically living on Trader Joe's vegetarian meatballs for the past year.)

I didn't even have to try to convince my mom. At the flutter of a mention of not having pork, she seized on it like she already wanted to have vegetarian Easter. So, we're planning a 7-layer Italian vegetable torte, carrot-ginger soup, and other pig-free goodies. I'm not making a vegetarian resolve like I did when I was sixteen, I might still eat meat under the right circumstances, but we're stepping up the pace of our lazy meander towards meatlessness. I think we'll get there eventually.

Happy Easter!

PS - the new Sunday Scribbling will be posted tomorrow!

28 comments:

AnnieElf said...

Yet another reminder that I/we must alter our eating here at home. Spring break is here next week. I'm going to Trader Joe's to check on vegetarian goodies again and see what I can slip to my dear hubby when he's not looking. LOL

Anonymous said...

I am so with you on this! "factory farming" now there's a misnomer-- it's a horror show and if you believe that you are what you eat-- why would you ingest those sad sad energies?

Not to be TOO evangelical or anything *smile* really, I'm not-- just passionate, I guess.

~bluepoppy

Alexandra S said...

Well,this is terribly bad timing for such a decision seeing as I just bought you and Jimbobuttarooni a one ton keg of sausage. It looks just like your red bubblegum machine in your kitchen too!All you would have had to do was pop in a penny and out would come a bite-size apple indian sausage. You never would have had to cook ever, ever again! Its a five year supply so do think twice. Seriously, I think this is a wonderful, wise, compassionate decision and the important thing is you can still eat WW vegetable soup, Skinny Cow sandwiches, and most importantly, butternut squash fries which I have promised you my kidney for should you ever need it, just for introducing me to this extraordinary food! One last thing- you might want to read Diet for a New America, written by John Robbins who gave up inheriting Baskin Robbins because he believed so heartfully in veganism. I'll see you at Easter. (I'll bring the sausage keg just in case.)

Maggie said...

"I think it's among the most natural things in the world, up there with sex, childbirth, and buying books." Amen. I love buying the books, man. This gave me the laugh I really needed today! But seriously, I'm on the road to vegetarianism too (bolstered significantly by hummus and all things eggplant). I loved hearing your perspective. ~Maggie

Alexandra S said...

I'm back...I just had a scary thought-What does this mean for your terribly tasty Thanksgiving feasts?

megg said...

hi there -

I am so so so close to following you. I think that what you're doing is the right way - allowing yourself to eat it sometimes. We're talking about buying organic, free range meat. It's expensive but we figure we'll cut way way down & when we do occasionally eat meat, we will eat healthy, well raised meat. Still... I am developing a taste for veggie sausages!! ugh. There is a wonderful quote I just got from a movie: "People want to eat hambugers, but they don't want to meet the cow." Aint it the truth!!

la vie en rose said...

welcome aboard--i've been meat free for almost 3 months. i love it and have been surprised by how easy it's been to give up meat (cheese not so much, but meat's been pretty okay). and for a girl raised by a rancher this is quite a feat...

holli said...

This is an issue I'm in total agreement with you on - my family gets so upset with me when they hear the ranting about the de-beaking of chickens. I try not to eat meat much, even though I like it.. just because I feel guilty. Faith lived off of tofu, tahini and soy for the first year and really doesn't like meat now at ALL.

Oh well - didn't mean to start it up hear.. I applaud your efforts.

chest of drawers said...

I am so unable to accept that it´s not easier to buy healthy meat...unfortunately it´s a sign of our time that everything is mass produced, sold cheaply and quality has become a thing that only a few people can afford on a regular basis. We have not eaten pork or beef since I watched a TV show about 2 months ago where meat farms were filmed - it was discusting! In future we will only buy meat locally from farmers that we know and trust.

M said...

Sounds great! I've tried to be a vegetarian full on before and ended up feeling too tired from lack of vitamins or something. I also realized I enjoy eating meat, but do agree about knowing where it comes from. I read "Fast Food Nation" and totally changed my eating habits- haven't been out for fast food in over two years!! I'm hoping to become healthier with more whole foods and less creations like crackers and packaged easy to eat food. We eat at least one vegetarian meal a week, more sometimes, and I'm sure the summer will mean many more veggies and fruits, less comfort food. Hope you enjoy your new theme for Easter dinner, the menu sounds delicious.
Check this out for an eating experiement: http://thetyee.ca/Life/2005/06/28/HundredMileDiet/

Deb R said...

"I think it's among the most natural things in the world, up there with sex, childbirth, and buying books."

I SoSO love the line above!

And yay for you for making changes that make you feel better! If I ever went vegetarian, that would be how it would probably happen for me...a sort of meandering path. Don't know if it will ever happen there tho, as my husband is a dedicated omnivore.

telfair said...

I can totally understand this...I don't know what I'm going to do when we get back to the US. Here in Australia, we're so lucky -- they have a very wide selection of meat that comes from free-range farms, that are RSPCA approved, and eggs are the same way. I don't really care about organic as much as I care about free-range farms that treat their livestock well. Here, it's easy to find, and it's not much more expensive than the regular stuff. I just don't think it's like that in the US.
Good luck and Happy Easter!

harmonyinline said...

I grew up vegetarian but I find it difficult to eat out vegetarian and low fat so I am not a real vegetarian any more just a occasional meat eater, I worry about mad cow disease and the bird flue I don’t like to eat chicken because it reminds me of the pet chickens I used to have and as much as I like beef it doesn’t like me

aithbhreac said...

I'm right there with ya! We switched a year ago to strictly organic, free-range meats and I feel like that was just the first step away from it entirely, but it's a slow process. New Seasons is great about providing information and brochures about where they source their meat products and the practices they use, so you can put a higher degree of confidence in the "organic" labeling.

Amber said...

LALALALALH!(holding ears) I don't want to face this! LALALAH...
I just love Tri-tip too much! But i know it is all true. I also gave up fast food after seeing Supersize Me. And we moved to a whole foods diet, mostly for my children, who have allergies to many things. It just works better for them, and it is better for all. I am not all the way to wanting to give up meat, but I am self-aware enough to know that this is only because I am so good at denial! ;)
*sigh*

Happy Easter
:)

Jennifer said...

Being a vegetarian can be tough, and I recognize the progression toward a lifestyle you desire. I've been a vegetarian for ten years (wow - that surprises me), but I didn't just wake up, decide to be a vegetarian, and do it. It took awhile. I went out west and saw the cattle packed together in a tight, small space. I smelled their living conditions for miles after passing by. That was one part of my path to being a V. But for me, mostly, I just get more and more grossed out by meat every year. I never was a fan when I was a little girl and once I was old enough to make my own food choices, I began to change my diet. That said, I am for following what is best for myself - and allowing others to do the same. I have had so many struggles with food and the body - I wouldn't want to tell anyone what to do or how to eat. I think living in this country can make eating difficult (media, fast food, income, etc.). I appreciate the room you leave within this post regarding personal choice. Thank you for sharing your journey :-)

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

My family lives in Willows, about ten minutes from Orland. Willows and Orland are rural areas. Farms are everywhere. Small farms, loving caring farmers, who do so because it is a lifestyle a choice. They care about their animals.
This post stirred deep within me...the small twon girl stood up, and waved a flag in your honor!

Letha Sandison said...

I had a yoga teacher that shared some similar experiences of her own with me and that was it for me too! Your dinner sounds like it is going to be wonderful even without piggy!!

Happy Easter!

melba said...

When I was in college I didn't eat meat for a few years and it drove my mom crazy. Eventually I started eating meat again. I really like vegetarian recipes and I try not too eat too much meat now. When I think about the stuff you wrote about meat...it is easy to stop because it all seems gross. Being today is Good Friday I wasn't planning on eating meat. But probably by Easter Sunday I will forget about it and there will be ham on my plate. We'll see...

Hope you and Jim have a Happy Holiday!

Pearl said...

Ham and Easter never went together much for me. It's all about the eggs. Congrats on taking steps to the new vegetarian direction.

Shannon (Sentimental) said...

Ya know I have given up red meat as of late (about 3 months) and still do the chicken/fish thing. I too want to dabble but it is hard because my family is meat oriented. I am proud of ya. On my blog roll is Ham Kin. She is about to go vegan and has been vegetarian for awhile except for while she was pregnant I believe. She truly is educated and fun read on that front and what inspired my own changes.

Terri /Tinker said...

We've been moving closer & closer to a meatless diet, and I'm finding I actually prefer the taste of several soy meat substitutes OVER the taste of real meat (soy chorizo, Trader Joe's Meatless Shepherd's Pie, TJ's meatless meatballs and eggless egg salad). They get bonus points for not making me feel quite so guilty, too.

Susannah said...

Hi Laini, thank you for the sweet comments you left on my blog yesterday - i was in fact reading your blog yesterday too, and printed out one of your paintings (Taming Dreams - i love it!) to keep - what serendipity is that?!

would love to hear more about your book (YB?) - writers of the world (literally) unite :-) ... and as for veggie thinking - i only eat organic meat, and am narrowing it down to animals i would feel okay to kill myself - so that leaves me fish, chicken and duck LOL. but that feels right, and my waistline agrees!

~ look forward to chatting more with you.... susannah x

Cate said...

I read this post a couple of days ago, Laini, and, with all of your writing, had to step away, consider, then return to comment! I don't eat meat but use by-products in my cooking (i.e. boullion cubes, egg, etc). Maybe that means I'm not an "official" vegetarian but I haven't chewed on actual cow, pig, or chicken meat in years. I practically exist on Morningstar Farms "sausage" patties, and I also love their Black Bean "burgers." I'm now driven to check out the "meatballs" that you were referring to--they sound good!

Finished a great fiction book last night that talks a lot about the beef industry--a funny book, but sad, too, and sometimes horrific. I was stunned by some of the things that I learned. It's called "My Year of Meats" by Ruth Ozeki.

Thanks for sharing your new decision. LOVE "nurtures them like valuable living creatures, rather than McNuggets-in-progress!" Also love the picture--one of the most moving, beautiful books of all time!

xo

Rampian said...

A couple of years ago, I went to the Castro Theater to see the movie 'Baraka.' It's a collection of clips from around the world that explore man's relationship to the earth and to its fellow creatures. It begins with an amazing shot of a monkey sitting in a hot springs in Japan. The steam is rising all around him and he is looking straight at the camera with a combination of sadness and acceptance...it's hard to put into words. The image itself is engraved in my brain. But what your post reminded me of is another scene in the movie which I think of every time I buy a carton of eggs. It's an assembly line of yellow chicks, moving along a stainless steel corridor as hands reach in and mark them. Eventually, the hands pick them up, clip their beaks, and throw them down a spiralling slide into a cage. The camera is able to capture the feeling of the chicks---their panic and fear, confusion and loneliness. I cried through 'til the end of the movie and a long time afterward. So I only buy cage-free eggs. There's a difference, too, between "free range" and "pasture raised". I think that "free range" means that the animals have access to a small outdoor area, but there's no control about the size this area has to be. Though there's no standardized definition (yet) "pasture raised" generally means that the animals were raised outdoors on pasture.
Grocery shopping is a tricky business these days. A lot of people are trying to cash in on the popularity of organics and it's early enough in the whole movement that controls and standards are still in flux. But at least we're heading in a more humane direction. Brian and his folks haven't eaten mammals since he was a teenager. We have a mammal-free refrigerator, but when we go out, I do get a craving for a hamburger every once in a while.

acumamakiki said...

Even with the free-range stuff, I'm still skeeved out by the whole meat processing thing and I've had issues with meat for years. I go on and off it and just last night, I told my husband that I'd like to stop eating meat, chicken, pork....perhaps a bit of fish will still stay on the menu but that's it.
Happy Easter and I'd love to have a recipe for a 7 layer veggie torte!

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon many have machines which not insuranced,
you have a unique opportunity only today to receive insurance the machine free of charge
[url= http://auto-insurance.halychen.com/index.html ]auto insurance[/url]
[url= http://auto-insurance.halychen.com/map.html ]auto insurance[/url]
[url= http://cars-insurance.halychen.com/index.html ]cars insurance[/url]
[url= http://cars-insurance.halychen.com/map.html ]cars insurance[/url]
[url= http://texascarinsurance.fromborg.com/map.html ]texas car insurance[/url]
[url= http://texascarinsurance.fromborg.com/index.html ]texas car insurance[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancequotes.halychen.com/map.html ]car insurance quotes[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancequotes.halychen.com/index.html ]car insurance quotes[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancepolicy.halychen.com/map.html ]car insurance policy[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancepolicy.halychen.com/index.html ]car insurance policy[/url]
[url= http://xanaxaxa.blogspot.com ]xanax[/url]
[url= http://phenne.blogspot.com ]phentermine[/url]
[url= http://tramadol400.blogspot.com ]buy tramadol[/url]

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon many have machines which not insuranced,
you have a unique opportunity only today to receive insurance the machine free of charge
[url= http://auto-insurance.halychen.com/index.html ]auto insurance[/url]
[url= http://auto-insurance.halychen.com/map.html ]auto insurance[/url]
[url= http://cars-insurance.halychen.com/index.html ]cars insurance[/url]
[url= http://cars-insurance.halychen.com/map.html ]cars insurance[/url]
[url= http://texascarinsurance.fromborg.com/map.html ]texas car insurance[/url]
[url= http://texascarinsurance.fromborg.com/index.html ]texas car insurance[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancequotes.halychen.com/map.html ]car insurance quotes[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancequotes.halychen.com/index.html ]car insurance quotes[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancepolicy.halychen.com/map.html ]car insurance policy[/url]
[url= http://carinsurancepolicy.halychen.com/index.html ]car insurance policy[/url]
[url= http://xanaxaxa.blogspot.com ]xanax[/url]
[url= http://phenne.blogspot.com ]phentermine[/url]
[url= http://tramadol400.blogspot.com ]buy tramadol[/url]