Being Vegetarian on Earth Day
After the head of my daughter’s daycare, also a vegetarian, heard that I returned to being a strict vegetarian with the birth of my daughter, she suggested I read Eating Animals by Jonathon Safran Foer. After the birth of the author’s son, he decided to venture into the query of humans eating animals.
This morning, Serafina and I walked to the library to read some books. She grabbed ALL of the picture books, wanting to take them home and gnaw on them a bit. Finally, doing the good old bait and switch, I convinced her she could carry my copy of Eating Animals. She hugged it at the register, and all I could think about were the people around me staring at the book in her arms, title loud and clear. They probably thought I have a screw loose. During lunch, the rain started to trickle down, and I knew that once naptime hit, I would enjoy curling up and reading a good book. I am only through the introduction, but I wanted to share this passage that reminded me of the purpose of this blog, which I consider a conversation with my daughter.
Feeding my child is not like feeding myself: it matters more. It matters because food matters (his physical health matters, the pleasure of eating matters), and because the stories that are served with the food matter. These stories bind our family together, and bind our family to others. Stories about food are stories about us– our history and our values.– Jonathon Safran Foer
I think it isn’t just the stories, although I enjoy that aspect of cooking and blogging. For me it is the responsibility. Learning to eat well and enjoy food helps a child develop and thrive. Teaching her to be compassionate to people and animals will help her to mature and develop empathy. People ask me about giving Serafina a choice, and I try to explain that I am helping my child develop a consistent moral ethos, much like many parents do on a variety of topics. For me, respecting the value of life on earth is an important value. Babies and children do much of their early learning from animals (books, toys, characters, pets), and I am not sure about the lesson learned from turning around and eating them, especially when we can live quiet healthfully without. I guess that is the key, eating meat is an unnecessary act. Eating less of it helps us, animals, and the environment. A win-win. If I can teach her how to be humane and how to have the least amount of negative impact on the life around her, then I will feel like I did a good job.
Foer goes on to explain that the book is not a straightforward book for vegetarianism (for that, see the Face on Your Plate), but he did think it was curious that everyone assumed his project must be because of the name. He felt the response was a telling problem of the food industry, that people assume any investigation into meat production must result in vegetarian advocacy. That would be my thought to leave you on Earth Day. Our industrial food industry needs an overhaul, especially the meat industry. If you haven’t read anything about the meat industry’s environmental impact, check it out (I have some sources listed in the education tab). And like Foer says, if you feel resistant to learn more, ask yourself: Why?