Cruelty to Animals

Mark Bittman tackles the pet/farm animal divide in his column today, pointing out the ridiculousness of protecting animals from cruelty when they’re pets, but allowing prolonged torture and abuse if they’re farm animals who are being “processed” for food (warning on that link: it has some pretty graphic descriptions of animal cruelty).

[I]n New York (and there are similar laws in other states) if you kick a dog or cat or hamster or, I suppose, a guppy, enough to “cause extreme physical pain” or do so “in an especially depraved or sadistic manner” you may be guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals, as long as you do this “with no justifiable purpose.”

But thanks to Common Farming Exemptions, as long as I “raise” animals for food and it’s done by my fellow “farmers” (in this case, manufacturers might be a better word), I can put around 200 million male chicks a year through grinders (graphic video here), castrate — mostly without anesthetic — 65 million calves and piglets a year, breed sick animals (don’t forget: more than half a billion eggs were recalled last summer, from just two Iowa farms) who in turn breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria, allow those sick animals to die without individual veterinary care, imprison animals in cages so small they cannot turn around, skin live animals, or kill animals en masse to stem disease outbreaks.

All of this is legal, because we will eat them.

We have “justifiable purposes”: pleasure (or, at this point, habit, because eating is hardly a pleasure if you do it in your car, or in 10 minutes), convenience — there are few things more filling per dollar than a cheeseburger — and of course corporate profits. We should be treating animals better and raising fewer of them; this would naturally reduce our consumption. All in all, a better situation for us, the animals, the world.

Yes. And that doesn’t even touch on how cruel the industry is to its human workers.

I’m not a vegetarian, and I don’t plan on going fully vegetarian any time soon (although I was pescatarian for about 10 years). Instructing people to go full veggie isn’t going to work — a lot of people don’t know how to prepare vegetarian-centered food, a lot of people want to eat the foods they grew up eating, and a lot of people like the taste of meat (or are at least used to it). A lot of people also (and this is my personal reason) view food as a fundamental pleasure, and see it as something to be experimented with and shared and tried and tasted in all of its forms. The idea of removing a major source of food from the list of options isn’t going to fly if you believe that food is for something more than just to fill you up. But that pleasure-centered view of food — that it’s not just fuel, but also something that should nourish your body well and should be variable and exciting — actually lends itself pretty well to reduced meat consumption, because it inherently requires you to eat and cook outside of your comfort zone which, for a lot of people, means non-meat dishes.

Bittman isn’t saying that we have to forgo meat completely. Just that eating meat every day is not the greatest, for animals or the environment (or, frankly, for your body). And that if you’re going to eat meat, paying the actual cost of that meat is crucial — that is, getting your meat from sustainable farms that aren’t wildly subsidized by both the U.S. government and their own irresponsible and cruel practices.

All of these things, of course, are not possible for everyone. Cheap meat is cheap for a reason, but it’s all a lot of people can afford; if there are five mouths at the table, a larger quantity of cheap meat makes more sense than a small bit of sustainably-farmed meat. Cooking takes time and clean-up takes time, so sometimes take-out or fast food is easier. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often pricey or not available. Etc etc. There are barriers.

But every time these conversations around food happen at places like Feministe, there seem to be two camps: the People Must Revamp Their Lives camp (who suggest, for example, that it’s totally easy for an entire family to go vegan) and the People Cannot Do Anything More camp (who suggest that everyone is trying as hard as they can and any suggestion that people should make incremental changes is shaming and harmful). And I think both of those views are kind of ridiculous. Are there very real barriers in the way of people being able to eat healthy? Yes, absolutely. Is it possible for every individual to be a perfect eater at all times? No, of course not. But are there small changes that most people can reasonably make, if they are given the tools to make them? Yes. Many of those tools have to come from something bigger than the individual — we need the time to cook and clean up (not possibly in a culture that values Work Work Work and demands that low-wage workers work two or three jobs to stay afloat); access to healthy foods (often not the case if you live in a place where the local stores just don’t carry fresh fruits and vegetables); and access to affordable foods (which doesn’t happen when the government subsidizes the worst agro-businesses, which artificially lower the cost of the unhealthiest, most over-processed “food” out there, and when big corporate food entities have a lot of political sway).

But I want to push back on the “no individual changes can be made” argument a little, because I think it’s both wrong and condescending. There’s rarely nothing that we can do on an individual level (and sometimes there really is nothing; if that’s the case, then ok). Usually the things we can do are very small, but small isn’t nothing. One thing I’ve found particularly helpful, since I’m single, is cooking with friends. I teach P how to make mussels, she teaches me how to make beans and spicy quinoa, we both learn something new and get a good meal out of it. I also go to the Times Recipes for Health and Bittman’s own Minimalist column to get food ideas, often based around whatever I have in my kitchen. And the more I cook based on recipes, the more I understand how to cook without them, and the easier it is for me to just throw some things in my kitchen together and make it taste good.

Cooking more also illustrates how much easier it is, a lot of the time, to make vegetarian food. So I eat vegetarian most days of the week, and don’t have to make a conscious effort to do “meatless mondays” — a meat-based meal is the unusual one. It’s healthier, and a lot cheaper.

Again, the eating habits of a single 20-something Brooklynite are obviously not translatable to everyone (or even most people). I’m not suggesting that everyone eat like me (or even that I’m a near-perfect eater most of the time. I’ve been known to eat a block of cheese and a bottle of wine for dinner. Yesterday I had a cheeseburger, a taco and a cupcake for lunch. I’m not a perfect eater by any stretch). But crucial for me in developing as someone who tries to be somewhat health- and socially-conscious about what they purchase and put in their body has been information-sharing. It’s been reading about the industrial food industry and its cruelty and its environmental and human devastation, and also gathering recipes that allow me to use healthy ingredients, and also choosing restaurants that ethically source their meat, and also pooling knowledge with friends and learning how to cook hands-on. It’s little things — it’s having Monday TV and cooking-dinner nights with friends instead of going out or ordering in. It’s cooking dinner together on Friday and then just going out for drinks. It’s going through my kitchen and seeing what I have and what I can make from it rather than hitting the grocery store or the deli. It’s getting an apple when I’m hungry instead of a cookie. It’s walking a few extra blocks to the green market for my vegetables. These are things that a lot of people already do; for me, they’re small shifts that are manageable in my daily life.

So, my question is: What do you do? How do you negotiate being a socially conscious person (which I assume you are if you’re reading this blog) with the very real day-to-day need to feed yourself and perhaps your family on a set income in a particular place? The point isn’t to say that because you do something, everyone else can, too; it’s to recognize that we all make efforts and we make them in particular contexts, and perhaps by sharing our best practices, we can learn and adopt some new ones.

181 comments for “Cruelty to Animals

  1. Florence
    March 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I try to grow some of my own food. I used to have a proper garden but now I do most of it in pots. This is sometimes, sometimes not successful. I also try to eat local, whether that means buying locally or eating in local restaurants only. I prefer to support small businesses over TGI Friday’s.

    I stopped eating processed food as much as possible. I used to eat a ton because it was easier and felt good — it reminded me of the food I grew up with — but now I tend to cook a large one-pot meal on Sunday that I eat from all week, like a veggie soup, lentils, or a pasta dish. This was also made possible by having a job close to home. When I worked more hours further away, I ate fast food almost every day.

    The truth is that I don’t like to cook all that much. I love eating and I LOVE good food, but my foodie tastes far outweigh my abilities in the kitchen.

  2. March 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    This probably isn’t something everyone can do, but if you are in a place that has a vegetable delivery service, I highly recommend it. I get a box full of organic/local veg delivered every other week, and since I don’t get to choose the veg I get for the most part, it’s really forced me to learn how to cook a bunch of things I wouldn’t otherwise have cooked with. And the amount of veg is often over the top, so I have to get creative in using it all up. Best of all, it’s generally cheaper than buying stuff at the chain supermarket near my house, and I’m supporting a local business and local farmers. (Wow, that sounds super smug! Completely not intentional; I am not quite that self-satisfied.)

  3. March 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I am like you. I eat mostly less meat centered meals unless I am eating fast food. But how would you know if fast food restaurants use cruelty-free farmed animals? Is this public information? When I cook at home I might use meat once or twice every two weeks and I mostly eat fish if I prepare a meal from scratch.

  4. March 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I was wondering if anyone could tell me the answer to a question I have. I have read many posts about how angry people are over what farms do and how they neglect and (mis)treat their animals. But I have never (and perhaps this speaks to my ignorance) heard of the harm done to fish/sealife in those types of farms. Is it that we don’t see them as having the same pain as other animals? Is is that we don’t seem to think that they are as intelligent as other creatures we eat? Could someone please explain?

  5. Geek
    March 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I eat too much meat on work days because most protein from the cafe is meat or plain tofu (boring!). Of course, I also eat a lot of cheese and yogurt, and dairy farming isn’t sweet n pretty either.

    So I experiment with vegan cooking on the weekends.

    I quickly discovered that these are the best thing ever: http://www.theppk.com/2010/11/doublebatch-chickpea-cutlets/ and I am going to buy a cookbook from these guys just because of this recipe (other stuff they have is great too), and you can freeze them.
    *contain soy, gluten. They are do-able without the soy but unlikely w/o gluten

  6. Elizabeth
    March 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    @Devin Eating Animals has a large section dedicated to the cruelties involved in obtaining fresh-caught fish and farming fish. It also addresses unintended victims of the fishing process, such as sea horses that are caught in nets intended for capturing tuna.

  7. March 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’m a picky eater, and a frequent carnivore. I wish I had the ability to branch out more and limit meat consumption in my diet, but I apparently can’t. What is flavorful to me is flavorful, and what is not is not. It’s not a case of not trying.

    My partner (and before that my parents) tried their damnedest to get me to eat better. It’s just a lost cause. But if others are able to do so, they have my admiration. I always justify it by saying I’m socially conscious in other areas.

    And if you’ll excuse me, there’s a hot dog with my name on it.

  8. RD
    March 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Hah, I’m not the only one who sometimes eats blocks of cheese whole! (/derail)

  9. gretel
    March 16, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I’m a vegetarian, but I’m not a preachy one, basically for the reasons you have outlined above. I’m also an ex Park Slope Food Co-Op member. I don’t really need to explain why the “ex” is there. (Do I?) I’ve since joined a CSA with my boyfriend as a way to help a local farm and also get amazing organic produce that reduces the need for packaging. We are privileged that we can afford to do so. Being a CSA member also forces me to cook more and also motivates me to have people over for dinner. It also encourages me to cook larger quantities of food, which means leftovers! Leftovers are perfect for bringing to work, which cuts down on the disposable packaging I’d get from going to Hale and Hearty (guilty pleasure). When it’s not CSA season (like now), I try to buy things at a farmer’s market. Of course I go to the supermarket too, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that (ex co-op member, remember?). The people who work there are awesome, and I want them to stay employed.

    At the same time, since I can afford to eat at restaurants occasionally, I try to patronize local ones, because that way the money is sustaining the community.

  10. Rachel
    March 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I think this topic is sooo important; so, thank you for writing about it. I became a vegetarian when I was 12 (not the best time for a drastic dietary change…I know) and I wanted to tell everyone what I knew about animal cruelty. What I found was there was a huge backlash. Before I even had the chance to talk about being vegetarian people were ready with a defense and a harsh one at that. The same thing happens when I tell people that I’m a feminist. It seems like some people are threatened when their way of life feels threatened; understandably so. Therefore I like to approach it gently. I don’t eat meat, but I’ll encourage other people to at least learn a little about the meat industry. Of course there are chains they could avoid at all costs- ehemKFCehem- although most chains are basically the same. For some families they can afford to buy different meat/no meat and don’t because they don’t know about animal cruelty or the health benefits. In this case I feel a responsibility to share what I know. In other cases there is just no freaking way they can change their diet. I guess that’s where activism comes in to try to change government regulations. And I do believe that we have a moral obligation to fight against cruelty and oppression in whatever form and in whatever way we can.

  11. PrettyAmiable
    March 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    gretel: (Do I?)

    Yes, please. I have a friend who mentioned that she was doing a food co-op in Brooklyn – I assume it’s the same one. I have no idea as a non-New Yorker.

  12. March 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

    My opinion is that being flexible, creative, and semi-organized helps. We are a family of four (soon to be five). Budget and avoiding waste are giant issues, as well. Planning ahead helps a lot. I involve the whole family in our food (from growing to buying to planning and preparing) as much as possible, even if it’s just turning grocery shopping into a family event.

    It’s good to have clear priorities when purchasing food – meaning a list, a budget, and a hierarchy (i.e., cheese before bagels). I want my produce and fruit to be in season and local. I only buy meat and poultry that is humanely raised, organic, and grass-fed/local — if what I want isn’t available, I get something else.

    Because such food is more expensive, I buy it much less, which means we eat meat-meat maybe twice a week. And we rely heavily on pantry and freezer foods. If there is nothing good in season, then we have a “pantry” meal like beans and rice. We eat canned and frozen veg when fresh is not an option.

    I make what I can (e.g., bread), but don’t stress if I buy it pre-made. I’m a huge fan of large “economy” cuts of meat that lend themselves to creative leftover meals (pork shoulder, beef round). I also don’t get all self-loathing when we have frozen pizza for dinner.

    DIY and GIY when you can. If you garden, focus on what you actually need. For example, I’m not growing tomatoes this year — it’s cheaper to buy in bulk from local growers and easier to can that way. Also, they’re total space hogs.

  13. saurus
    March 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Hm. I feel a little weird about this post commenting on both socially-conscious eating and healthy eating in the same breath. Like, there’s a big difference to me between eating an apple instead of a cookie, and trying to spend your consumer dollars in ways that don’t support animal cruelty. The latter has a moral dimension, but the former isn’t. As a socially conscious person, I’m a vegetarian and try to eat less dairy, because I want to minimize my contribution to animal suffering, and it’s something I can personally do with relative ease. But I also eat lots of sugary, salty, fatty food because it makes me happy, and I don’t see that as being “less perfect” or having any bearing on my commitment to social justice. In fact, sometimes eating that kind of food *is* the most socially conscious choice for me, because it operates as a form of self-care and also a big “eff you” to everyone who is inclined to shame me for it. (I could also understand eating healthy as a form of self-care too; I’m just talking about myself here.) Anyway, I feel a bit uncomfortable with how this post went from “Here’s how I avoid blood meat” to “Here’s how I eat healthier” without mention of how one of those things has a moral spectrum and the other doesn’t. I feel like eating healthier as an individual and fighting systemic animal cruelty are being conflated here as socially just aims, intentionally or not…

    Anyway, I’m a bit of a foodie and I’m always trying recipes from food blogs, but Allrecipes.com is great in a pinch because someone has always posted a “quick and easy” version of any given dish, the comments are really instructive and helpful, and you can search based on the main ingredients you already have. The recipes are mostly white-people-friendly and it’s not very “foodie”, but it often does the job.

  14. gretel
    March 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    PrettyAmiable: Yes, please. I have a friend who mentioned that she was doing a food co-op in Brooklyn – I assume it’s the same one. I have no idea as a non-New Yorker.

    It just took over my life. You have to work one shift every 4 weeks. If you miss a shift (easy to do when you work full-time and go to school part-time), you have to make up 2 shifts plus working your regular shift. Also it’s not too close to my apartment, so I was spending a lot of time traveling to buy groceries. Additionally, 90% of co-op members are awesome, but the 10% lifestyle-politics power-trippers can make shopping a miserable experience.

  15. Jim
    March 16, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Soups. If you set your pantry up right, they can go together pretty fast. And if you “stack” your cooking you can stretch the good you get from the long time invested in doing a pot of beans by using the left-overs from on meal as the basis for the next – beans -> beans and greens -> soup. Pot roast works really well this way too, and only the cheaper cuts work for good pot roast.

    There’s another advantage to this. If you several chains like this going, you can pull out a couple of things for a meal and people don’t all have to eat the same thing. This really pays of with kids. I’m coming to the conclusion that if a kid just hates some particular food, there is usually a good reason. They may have had a bad experience, and that can be helped over time maybe, or that food just may not be good for tham and it’s better to respect that and teach them by example to respect that than to try to steamroller them. I am finding out in later life why I never particularly liked oranges or tomato products, but the signs were there decades ago.

    Setting up the pantry – there’s a lot of privilege in play here. Ihappen to be where I have reliable access to good kimchi, and that helps a lot of my soups. I can get 25 lb. sacks of white and brown rice – not everyone can. But big bags of pinto beans are pretty much available everywhere. We have good wild sea fish here, and lots of it decently cheap, but that’s not true further inland.

    “I’ve been known to eat a block of cheese and a bottle of wine for dinner.”

    This is key. All the sensible shit needs to give way to some indulgence now and then. Some black cod or a still-bleeding steak after two weeks of beans and soups make life worth living.

    Devin: But I have never (and perhaps this speaks to my ignorance) heard of the harm done to fish/sealife in those types of farms.

    Ignorance it kind of harsh way to describe it, Devin, but there is a lot of discussion of this in my area, but not because of the suffering of the farmed fish but because of the health hazard they pose to the wild fish (salmon in this case) that have to swim right through the same estuaries where the farms are. But with fish farmed on land, such as tilapia and catfish, I think for the most part the farming methods happen to replicate natural conditions pretty closely. They like to live in nearly stagnant ponds.

    “Fresh fruits and vegetables are often pricey or not available.”

    So true. Seasonality matters – eat cabbage in January, not lettuce; rutabagas instead of tomatoes. Beisdes that stuff tastes better in cold weather than that other stuff. But it sure has limits. People can grow collards or zucchini in the backyard, but they need a backyard, and time to do it, and the skill it takes to make it happen.

    “And that if you’re going to eat meat, paying the actual cost of that meat is crucial ”

    This goes for all of it, not just meat. Most commercially grown vegetables are subsidized by immigration laws that drive wages to the starvation level, or by economic conditions in source countries like Mexico that accomplish the same thing.

  16. PrettyAmiable
    March 16, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Thanks gretel! My friend is working a regular 9-5 and doesn’t have other major activities, so I’m guessing it’s not going to be as big an issue for her. PS, that policy is ridiculously harsh.

    For those of you who can’t grow lots of things, I have a friend who just grows herbs in her apartment (because holy shit are herbs expensive), but this obviously isn’t doable for everyone. Her apartment gets lots of sunlight, and she has a car and the income to get whatever dirt you need to grow them. It helps make vegetarian cooking easier for her though.

  17. March 16, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I became vegan about two years ago as a “temporary experiment” that just never ended. Interestingly, I’m much more into the joy of eating (and cooking) now than before I went vegan. I used to eat a lot of quick, convenient stuff, especially after work when I was tired. That just isn’t an option anymore, so I was forced to learn how to cook! Also, the unhealthy things I enjoyed and used to eat fairly often (like ice cream sundaes and baked goods) are much harder to come by, so I have to make them myself…the end result being that I eat fewer of them.
    Recently, traveling through Gainesville, Florida, I found an ice cream shop that had vegan ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, etc. I ordered a huge sundae and it was AMAZING. I think I enjoyed it far more than I used to because it is such a rare treat. Then the woman at the ice cream shop recommended some local restaurants I should try, and my (not vegan by any stretch of the imagination) boyfriend and I had fun checking them out. I feel that I have a much deeper appreciation for food these days and a healthier relationship with it.

  18. Tracy
    March 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I’m fortunate enough to live in an area with a very strong CSA movement. I participate in a meat CSA, where I get 5 lbs of meat a month – it’s locally and sustainably raised, so I feel good about that, and I also try to make that the bulk of the meat that I eat (I do have to supplement outside of that at times, particularly for seafood or chicken) so my overall meat consumption isn’t huge.

    And I get semi-weekly produce delivered, with a ‘it’s local/organic but not always both’ theme to it, where the local is often organic practices without certification, which is my ultimate preference. This means I DO have a lot of vegetables on hand at any point, and that means I’m more inclined to cook with them.

    I also try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, although with time being what it is, that’s hard at times!

  19. mk
    March 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I decided to give up meat for Lent this year (keeping eggs and fish, somewhat arbitrarily), which is a first for me, although I’ve had stretches of largely vegetarian eating before.

    For whatever it’s worth, I only buy cage-free eggs, and I only buy organic meat and poultry–although it’s a bit of a hypocritical move, because I’m guessing many of the restaurants I frequent (particularly the take-out variety) don’t.

    And this one is pretty random, but here we go: I only buy American lamb. (This applies to both grocery stores and restaurants; unlike a lot of other meats, lamb is almost always marked with its origin; you see a lot of New Zealand and Australian lamb, but as the product of two sheep farmers, I feel obligated to support the American sheep industry.)

    Now that I think about it, I can’t remember ever hearing the lamb industry mentioned in discussions about the evils of meat production. I have a feeling the fact that the majority of American sheep farms are family-owned means that there really isn’t a corporate lamb industry the way there is with beef, pork and chicken–and of course most of the abuses we hear about take place in industrial operations, not family farms.

  20. March 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

    You’re so right about this – I try to cook more now, hence a *lot* of the food I eat nowadays is vegetarian. I don’t actually have more time for cooking, I have less time (perhaps this is why the vegetarian food is such a big staple of my diet), but it saves money and I get more pleasure out of it.

  21. March 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

    One small change I’ve been trying to make is buying fruits and veggies in season. I googled and printed out a couple of charts for the produce that grows in my area and put it on my fridge so I have it handy when I’m thinking I need to go to the store. It has the 2-fold effect of helping me keep things local, and also being cheaper.

    And now that I know I’m going to be in my place for quite a bit longer I’m going to try my hand at growing herbs again. I used to have quite a nice garden, but small bout of depression (plus just plain ignorance since it was my first attempt at growing more than a cactus) kept me from working on it and everything ended up dying off :(

  22. twostatesystem
    March 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Like currer bell said, I find that not beating myself up when I don’t meet my priorities 100% is crucial. For example, I typically make my sandwich bread for lunches, but if I’m having a rough week and don’t get to it? That’s OK. Get back on that horse next week. I aim for 90% and if I’m consistently failing to make that, that’s when I look at my goals and see if they’re too taxing on me (financially, timewise, etc) or if I’m making excuses and see how I can change that.

    Other best practices I’ve found: sharing a CSA among more people than “recommended”. I travel a lot. My flatmate and his girlfriend and her flatmate do the same (we’re all postgrad 20-somethings). And so a small CSA among the four of us reduces cost, reduces time input for pickup, and reduces waste, as typically a share has 2-3 people eating out of it for a given week.

    Also, small steps are good steps. I didn’t add in all my food related goals at once. One year I started making bread. Another I started the CSA. I stopped buying meat because I was cheap. I started making stock for the same reason. But it was easiest for me to add in things one at a time and adjust to that before trying something else new.

    The thing I’m trying to look for best practices around is eating while travelling (for work). I find that when I have to travel for work, I end up eating a lot of crap and a lot more meat because I get so far out of my comfort zone in terms of having the resources and the knowledge about how to get the things I like where I am.

  23. March 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    And something that has helped me cook more is to have a couple staple dishes I can easily make with just a few ingredients that I almost always have on hand (pasta with (dried)herbs & garlic, potatoes with whatever toppings I have available, black bean and tomato soup, etc.). That way I can still cook and eat at home even when I’m running low on energy/spoons.

  24. March 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I went through a vegan preachy stage, and backed off of it. Still vegan (with occasional slips, like when in France and confronted with Camembert).

    We’re raising our daughter vegan at home, but we’re patient with what happens when she goes to birthday parties where cake and pizza are bound to be on the menu. We want to be winsome vegans, encouraging people to think about where their food comes from and to make the best decisions for themselves.

    I appreciate the tone of this post, Jill, because you lay out that so many different factors go into what we eat. Any discussion we have about food needs to address:

    1. Pleasure. What tastes good to us? What might taste even better?

    2. Cost, both in terms of time and money.

    3. Culture, in terms of honoring and preserving food traditions

    4. Compassion, in terms of considering the impact of our food choices on animals and those humans who produce our food.

    5. Sustainability, in terms of how our food choices impact the planet. Great question to ask: what if everyone wanted to eat the way I eat? What would the impact be?

    I used to think only 4 and 5 mattered. Reflection has broadened my view.

  25. paraxeni
    March 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I avoid food subsidised by the US Govt. by being not-American.

    Problem solved.

    The reason debates like this get heated is because too often, they ignore the reality of those of us not living in Americaland. Just like the ethical clothing debate with it’s cries of “just go to Goodwill” or “buy your clothes from Etsy”, the same happens with ethical food discussions, and devolves exhortations to “join a local food co-op” or “shop at a farmer’s market”.

    Discussions like this about making ‘ethical’ or ‘green’ choices about food, clothing and transport also ignore the fact that readers can be socially conscious while also being a) poor and/or b) disabled. Obviously this applies to people within and outside the US.

    It’s easy enough to say, from the perspective of someone middle-class and able, that giving up certain types of food as a concession to ethical or green practices is easy, or that growing food is simple and practical. It’s also very easy to say “I don’t believe that stating these things is shaming”. However this is an area where Feministe trips up over and over again. Poverty and disability are not choices. Poverty and disability are about more than how much money someone has, more than someone’s physical or mental state. They are wide-ranging conditions that can affect every facet of a person’s life. Even saying something like “Don’t eat meat every day” carries the assumption that everyone reading this even gets to eat every day. It’s laughable.

    Please don’t forget that there are people who would love to be able to pick and choose where their food is grown or farmed, would love to have the assurance that neither man nor beast was harmed during that food’s production, but whose reality means that ‘dinner’ is a Pepsi and a petrol station hot dog. That there are people who’d love to garden, and grow vegetables and herbs, but live in one room and hardly have the physical or mental fortitude to tear open their ‘lunch’ Doritos, or financial choices that extend beyond “possibly being able to turn on the heating this weekend if I stick to tap water instead of juice or tea.”

    So please, remember that in terms of world population the white, middle-class, able, American is a numeric minority. Try and consider that what might be very easy and obvious to you, is not possible for others. And please remember that even if the marginalised don’t speak up, they’re still here reading. They still feel the weight of circumstances dictating the impossibility of being as socially conscious as they would love to be. They still know that the majority of people could never understand their lived experience, yet still choose to judge them based on what they think they might do in that situation. They’re still trying to mentally engage with the issues, while knowing that circumstances dictate that physical engagement with them may not ever be a reality.

    Don’t fail those marginalised people by assuming you understand why they have to make the choices they make, or by intimating that you understand systemic poverty or life-altering health issues because “This one time, when I was in college, I…”

    Just respect that a lot of us have to accept that those of you with money, with privilege, with ability and choices will have to let you pick up our ethical ‘slack’ until such time as we’re lucky enough to be in that position ourselves. Until then, don’t forget we’re here, watching and listening, and hoping for understanding.

  26. paraxeni
    March 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Ugh. Erroneous “let you” in that last paragraph. Sorry.

  27. March 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you for that. It is true that most people feel it must be all or nothing. That is a sad excuse. Thanks for encouraging people that there is a possible balance and every effort DOES help!!

  28. March 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I’m going to semi-echo Jill and also Bridget above–getting started can be the hardest part, but it might surprise you. For me, a “meatless Monday” new year’s resolution showed me that most of my concerns about vegetarian cooking (e.g. all the recipes would have expensive, hard-to-find ingredients that I didn’t know how to prepare) were pretty unfounded. So my little tip would be to set a finite goal first–“I’m going to prepare a vegetarian meal on Monday.” Full stop, no further obligation. See how it goes. It didn’t take me long to learn firsthand that I could do this and be okay at it, and that made me more comfortable with setting more long-term goals.

    One other idea is to invest in a vegetarian cookbook–I got a couple used ones from half.com for a couple dollars each. That gave me a whole lot of recipes all in one place, and once I spent money on the cookbook, I felt obligated to use it.

  29. March 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I eat more constructively when I live with someone. Living on my own, I don’t even eat in a way that sustains *me*, much less an economy or an ecosystem. Even this morning I waited until I had a raging headache due to hunger before I actually pulled it together enough to heat up a tin of baked beans. When I live with someone, I’m more self-conscious and I don’t let things get that bad.

    I have a pretty messed up relationship with food and body and health though – there’s still a part of my brain that associates eating *anything* with over-eating and I compensate by eating things that are mindless as possible (e.g., stuff out of a box or bagged totally uncooked) so I don’t have to think about it, especially when I’m stressed out and feeling mentally overwhelmed with school. Fresh fruit is amazing for this, and some veggies that I can eat raw, but so are cookies, chips, and crackers, and the latter keep better in the cupboard, so those are the things I tend to eat because I hate dealing with food going bad on me. I also tend to eat meat less living on my own simply because it’s (relatively) too complicated to store and cook when I’m wigging out. At these times, all I want is for food to make me happy and fill me up without bringing any additional stress, but that’s a really shallow way of coping.

    Then again, sometimes I’ll get really jazzed up, not feel like all my school stuff is slowly crushing me, and I’ll clean my kitchen and start making elaborate soups and casseroles and things. I know if I was working a job that I didn’t have to live with every moment of every day (school never, never, never goes away – there is always something my brain has to be obsessing over), I’d experience this a lot more and would start bringing more thoughtfulness to how I shop for food and eat. My plan for this summer is to start an herb garden and spend more time shopping at the farmer’s market near my house.

  30. Florence
    March 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    C…: But how would you know if fast food restaurants use cruelty-free farmed animals?

    It’s safest to assume all corporate restaurants buy fromm corporate farms, where animal cruelty is overlooked in favor of the bottom line. If it isn’t, they will have it emblazoned over all of their windows and products.

    Comrade Kevin: And if you’ll excuse me, there’s a hot dog with my name on it.

    Mmmm. Hot dogs.

    paraxeni: It’s easy enough to say, from the perspective of someone middle-class and able, that giving up certain types of food as a concession to ethical or green practices is easy, or that growing food is simple and practical. It’s also very easy to say “I don’t believe that stating these things is shaming”. However this is an area where Feministe trips up over and over again. Poverty and disability are not choices.

    It’s easy enough to preach to the choir about privilege (!!!!11!), despite the safe assumption that this blog’s audience is relatively worldly and wealthy no matter our relative incomes, which unfortunately also has the net effect of discouraging collaboration about how to make better, healthier, greener, more socially conscious choices in our community. This is relative. We’ve covered this as a community 1000 times and showing up again with a super-groovy “URDOINITRONG” is masturbatory. This blog as well as any other has the right to purposely narrow the focus of the subject matter in order to effectively discuss any topic. And the topic of this discussion is what we do to make less-cruel food choices, a discussion available to all. For example, when I lived and raised a child below the (American) poverty line, I still found a way to grow some of my own food. I also made certain choices at the food bank, to buy good bulky grains like lentils and brown rices and extra cheap, ugly meats that most of the non-immigrant folks in the community overlooked to flavor them up. I also found that I could buy extraordinarily cheap fresh produce if I could get to an “ethnic” market instead of hitting up the Kroger.

  31. March 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Florence: despite the safe assumption that this blog’s audience is relatively worldly and wealthy no matter our relative incomes

    No. As has been demonstrated on Feministe in past threads, having occasional Internet access and using it to access a social justice blog /= relatively worldly and wealthy (unless they have all given up on Feministe as a hostile space). Are people who experience the most extreme poverty in a global perspective well represented on this site? No, I doubt it. But there is a fairly diverse representation of people across economic strata.

  32. Florence
    March 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Jadey: No. As has been demonstrated on Feministe in past threads, having occasional Internet access and using it to access a social justice blog /= relatively worldly and wealthy (unless they have all given up on Feministe as a hostile space).

    To each their own.

    Are people who experience the most extreme poverty in a global perspective well represented on this site? No, I doubt it. But there is a fairly diverse representation of people across economic strata.

    And it’s awesome to point that out whenever possible, but it’s basically threadjacking to control the topic of coversation whenever this applies without then contributing to the topic. Of all the things in the world that cross cultural boundaries, approaches to food is one. If you don’t fit the mold, please share what you do. As is asked in the OP.

    • March 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      But how would you know if fast food restaurants use cruelty-free farmed animals? Is this public information?

      If the fast-food chain doesn’t specify where it gets its food (i.e., “We use Niman Ranch pork”), it’s basically guaranteed that it’s factory-farmed and cruel.

    • March 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      I avoid food subsidised by the US Govt. by being not-American.

      Problem solved.

      Good that that wasn’t the problem that I outlined in the post, and only one component of it in my particular context.

      The reason debates like this get heated is because too often, they ignore the reality of those of us not living in Americaland. Just like the ethical clothing debate with it’s cries of “just go to Goodwill” or “buy your clothes from Etsy”, the same happens with ethical food discussions, and devolves exhortations to “join a local food co-op” or “shop at a farmer’s market”.

      Discussions like this about making ‘ethical’ or ‘green’ choices about food, clothing and transport also ignore the fact that readers can be socially conscious while also being a) poor and/or b) disabled. Obviously this applies to people within and outside the US.

      Right. But since I live in the U.S., I don’t know the contours of food culture in every other place in the world. Which is why the post concludes with asking readers to explain what they do, in their particular contexts.

      It’s easy enough to say, from the perspective of someone middle-class and able, that giving up certain types of food as a concession to ethical or green practices is easy, or that growing food is simple and practical. It’s also very easy to say “I don’t believe that stating these things is shaming”. However this is an area where Feministe trips up over and over again. Poverty and disability are not choices. Poverty and disability are about more than how much money someone has, more than someone’s physical or mental state. They are wide-ranging conditions that can affect every facet of a person’s life. Even saying something like “Don’t eat meat every day” carries the assumption that everyone reading this even gets to eat every day. It’s laughable.

      Um, no, it doesn’t (especially not coming from someone who has never eaten meat on a regular basis; it is definitely not my assumption that all people eat meat daily). If I say “Don’t kill someone,” does that indicate that I think every reader is a killer?

      I also made it clear that giving up certain foods or practices is not easy or practical. Which is why I opened this post up to suggestions for the little things that people do, so that readers can maybe learn something.

      Don’t fail those marginalised people by assuming you understand why they have to make the choices they make, or by intimating that you understand systemic poverty or life-altering health issues because “This one time, when I was in college, I…”

      And again, no one did that. The post specifically asked people what they do, because I recognize that our contexts and needs are wildly different, and I can’t possibly know the diverse circumstances that people face.

      I think you’re arguing against a bunch of other things that have been said about food, which you assume I’m putting forward here, instead of what I actually wrote.

  33. Lori
    March 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I last ate red meat in 1989 and stopped eating all other meat in 1990. So, I’ve been a vegetarian for 21 years and don’t miss the meat. (I do wish, however, that I had the energy or time to cook, but I don’t. Maybe Jill could show could come over and help me out?). I buy organic fruits and vegetables and though my kids aren’t vegetarians, I limit their meat intake and buy only antibiotic-free meats, free range meats, and cage free eggs, etc. I hope I’m doing my part, if only a small part.

  34. March 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I’m vegan.

    I go to a college with a ~10% vegan and ~25% vegetarian population, so it’s easier for me than a lot of people, so I’m fully aware of my privilege here. My everyday diet is boring and often not that tasty but healthy and filling.

    I’m not a strict vegan. I eat honey (because fuck bees), hunted meat and not-overfished wildcaught fish, and I have quality-of-life exemptions for sushi and this one really awesome pie place, because I would not be happy if I never got to eat sushi or awesomepie again. I wear leather from thrift stores. Also, I am too lazy to remember which chemicals come from animals and which don’t, so I just avoid the biggies: milk, eggs, whey, gelatin and of course any kind of meat.

    I try not to be an asshole about other people’s dining habits. I am addicted to Skittles, which support corporate farming; is this any more or less ethical than someone else who eats meat but not Skittles? I do not feel like I am in a position to judge the compromises with strict morality that other people make (and make no mistake, everyone makes compromises).

  35. Victoria
    March 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I usually do not comment, but food is one of the dearest subjects to my heart. paraxeni is right. Most people are doing the best with what they have on hand. Instead of looking at food as merely personal I ask that we look at the larger social systems in place that prevent non privileged populations from accessing healthy affordable food options. The same system that makes fruit and vegetable food deserts is the same system that allows pesticides to go into the water supply of low income communities, underpays workers who are being forced into dangerous working environments, and constantly undermines legislation that would protect undocumented workers from protections from explotation while choosing profit over food safety.

    In your efforts to personally eat better and choose ethical food it can be a good idea to get involved in local food access activism that try to eliminate food deserts and organize community to help get cooking classes in public schools and mentoring programs. Making sure that food programs for the elderly and disabled are properly funded and are providing healthy and delicious options to people who are having difficulty grocery shopping and/or cooking.

    An easy way is to write to your local and state representatives why you care about these issues and disagree with food industry practices. Also encourage your local CSA to work on a sliding scale and advertise in areas they usually do not do business in, same with community cooking classes.

    Hugo has a wonderful list to think about and I will be printing that out since it is so simple yet touches upon how I try to talk about food choices but without my usual rambling. Sorry if I missed any points, I just love food activism and food traditions. Maya had a wonderful Feministe post on food activism that I will try to find.

  36. March 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I buy copious amounts of frozen vegetables and put them in everything typically not-very-nutritious, such as ramen noodles and boxed macaroni when I don’t have time/energy/other foodstuffs that are healthier. Cheap and easy to make!

  37. March 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    ozymandias: I’m not a strict vegan. I eat honey (because fuck bees),

    LOL. That is all.

  38. gretel
    March 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I think we know who is responsible for the global bee population implosion!

    April: LOL.That is all.

  39. Brandy
    March 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I was pescetarian, then vegetarian, now vegan. I’ve been a member of a CSA the past couple years, and buy other veggies at the farmers market during the summer. I buy organic food when available, as close to local as I can find (sometimes choosing local over organic, though it’s a tough choice), and when it isn’t, I try to consider whether I still need want to buy it. There are an infinite number of factors to consider when choosing what to eat beyond what I’ve managed already, so I’m far from perfect. But moral ambiguity isn’t a reason to give up entirely, so I keep trying and keep learning.

    Has anyone here read Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change by Nick Cooney? It just came out last December, so maybe not many. I’m only about halfway through, and the studies he cites really surprised me – I know we all rationalize our decisions but I didn’t know how much of that happens subconsciously. I highly recommend it (at least what I’ve read so far).

  40. March 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I love your suggestion to cook with other people. I’m someone who has always cooked, even when I was young and broke in NYC, and often I’ve cooked with other people. For those folks with kids, here’s an idea. When we were little, my mother (who was a single mom) and one of her really good friends alternated cooking dinner on Monday nights (when Mr. Smith was out of town). They called these “garbage dinners,” a name we thought was hilarious as kids (there were 5 of us altogether), because the idea was not to shop, but to use up whatever was left in the fridge. At our house that was usually soup, “Garbage Soup” being my mom’s name for it, at the Smith’s we often had cheese toast and tea and creme brulee (someone in that house was crazy for egg white omelets in the morning, so there was usually a glut of yolks by the weekend). We loved it, the moms had a standing date for some company, and got to share ideas for using up what was in the fridge. The key, of course, was that it was “family” so no one was trying to impress anyone, well, that, and that my mother and Mrs. Smith were both delightfully odd people.

  41. Kristen J.'s Husband
    March 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Well the K Family resolves this problem by purchasing beef (when we eat it) from a family friend who owns a ranch. We know the animals, how they are treated and how they are slaughtered. Other animal products (not including seafood or cheese) come from a local farm. We do probably eat some meat/eggs every day, but in the 2 to 4 oz range. I haven’t worked out a fruit/veggie solution as of yet. I can’t grow things and we are both extraordinarily picky about what fruits and vegs we’ll eat. As for cheese…you’ll pry my imported cheeses out of my cold dead hands.

  42. Florence
    March 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    If you live anywhere near countryside, do stop at those houses with signs for fresh eggs. They’re typically delicious and free-range and WAY cheap, and they have the benefit of tasting 800x better than store eggs.

  43. jjuliaava
    March 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    OMG How do I afford CSA!?? It is like $380-$425 for a half share! Which is totally reasonable spread across April-Aug, but hard to pay with one chuck of money for the poor people (me)!
    A huge problem I have is that farmer’s markets near where I live in the heart of farmland (St. Louis) DO NOT ACCEPT SNAP BENEFITS!! Which makes me not ant to support them anyway.
    Someone call The First Lady ASAP!

  44. March 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    For example, when I lived and raised a child below the (American) poverty line, I still found a way to grow some of my own food.I also made certain choices at the food bank, to buy good bulky grains like lentils and brown rices and extra cheap, ugly meats that most of the non-immigrant folks in the community overlooked to flavor them up.I also found that I could buy extraordinarily cheap fresh produce if I could get to an “ethnic” market instead of hitting up the Kroger.

    Rock on. Eating in a socially/globally conscious manner is only for the GOOPs of the world. It seriously starts with cutting yourself a freaking break. Do what you can do; don’t get hung up on what you can’t. Eat a bag of Combos or a gas station hot dog and don’t sweat it. But remember that sometimes things are not as hard as you might think.

    Soup is easy and cheap to make in bulk. Ladle it into muffin tins and freeze. Pop out and keep in freezer bags. Likewise homemade hot pocket a/k/a pasties. Easy meal on the go.

    I know it’s often easier said than done, especially if you work outside the home, have kids, commute, etc. etc. But try to think of food prep NOT as a chore but as relaxation time. Or kid-bonding time. Or me time. Or self-ed time. Or a good time to drink wine.

    In summary? Don’t stress about food! Enjoy it. Learn about it. Eat it.

    • March 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      Rock on. Eating in a socially/globally conscious manner is only for the GOOPs of the world. It seriously starts with cutting yourself a freaking break.

      This has been really key for me. Re-situating eating well and making my body feel good as self-love — rather than “Ugh I had the worst day, a cupcake will make me feel better!” — has not only been key in eating better, but also in feeling less self-loathing when I eat that cupcake, because sometimes a cupcake really does make you feel better. But putting it in a context of always trying to eat in ways that make me feel good — eating food that is really really delicious and doesn’t make me sick — and allowing that not every meal is going to be 100% Healthy Approved, and that sweets and other “imperfect” food items are delicious and a necessary part of food enjoyment… that helps, all around.

  45. March 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    ozymandias:

    I eat honey (because fuck bees)

    Not to take away from the conversation, but I love this statement here.

  46. Brandy
    March 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    jjuliaava:
    OMG How do I afford CSA!?? It is like $380-$425 for a half share! Which is totally reasonable spread across April-Aug, but hard to pay with one chuck of money for the poor people (me)!

    Some CSAs allow you to pay in installments. Check out LocalHarvest to find one in your area.

  47. March 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I’m a single, low-income woman in my 20s, and I’ve been vegetarian for a few years. I had been thinking about giving up meat for a while before I actually took the leap, but the tipping point was when I found out just how much tofu cost at my local grocery store: about $3, and I can get about 4 servings out of that (where a serving is about the size of a deck of cards). That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than meat.

    Going vegetarian definitely isn’t for everybody, but I do recommend cutting back on meat products in favour of meat substitutes on occasion, if only to cut the cost of one’s grocery bill a bit. Of course there are ethical reasons to not eat meat as well, but the economic reasons make the choice practical for low-income people and families.

  48. Lu
    March 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    andrea: Not to take away from the conversation, but I love this statement here.

    I wasn’t gonna say anything, but people keep approving of this statement and I’m feeling worse and worse about it. Why is “fuck bees,” which was meant to be flippant and funny (and kind of is, I mean, even I can see that), something great to approve of? I’m not usually a humorless vegan, but what do people have against bees that bees can actually help doing? I mean, they’re pretty much innocent even though no one likes being stung or may be deathly allergic or whatever; but if they sting you, it’s not intentional. There’s really no reason to hate on them, and I can’t help thinking that saying things like that is a small-scale manifestation of the larger omnivore attitude, “humans rule, animals drool. Eff them.”

    My thing with the honey issue is, you can make the argument that taking honey from bees is a trivial issue, or that it doesn’t really matter that bees get smushed and die when you take their honey. That’s for individual people to decide, and frankly honey is not the biggest problem I have among animal-derived products. I’ll occasionally eat something like whole-wheat bread made with honey, but not because fuck bees. Still, I’d like people to consider just how small it is of us to take away something they spend their lives working to make. For pete’s sake, the beehive is the very symbol of admirable industriousness, is it not? I’d rather be a bigger person than to just take away the product some other creature spent its life making, just because I can.

    I know I’ve gone on about it here, but this is not meant to be a scolding rant; I was trying to write something more philosophical in nature–an invitation just to consider the bee and reflect on the sentiment “fuck them.”

  49. Margaret
    March 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I really liked this post, but I had a problem with the implication that vegetarians are not people who believe food is for more than to fill you up. I am a vegetarian and a major foodie as are most of the vegetarians I know. I realize I’m taking a lot of offense at one sentence, particularly when the overall substance of the piece was good, but I was greatly bothered by that sentence.

  50. becky
    March 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Now that I’m living in a big city, I only came to realise that there were perks to having spent my childhood in a rural town: farm eggs/vegetables/meat, herb gardens and apple trees all around – pretty freaking scenic (well, except for the nuclear station 3 miles away – so much for healthy home-grown food…?)… Despite having the privilege to be able to chose from more international and more varied foods in the city, I find it pretty hard to shop on a budget. I buy organic dairy products, eggs and meat, but for the “rest”, I have to say, it’s way too expensive for me to buy organic food (bread, cheese or pasta, for example – the prices stun me every time). I agree with the change of behaviour when living on your own or in a shared apartment, for example: I was much better at cooking fresh stuff when having roommates – now it’s a bit more difficult… I really like April’s idea of buying copious amounts of frozen veggies and adding them to everyting – sounds easy and yummy!

  51. apricoco
    March 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I’m a vegetarian with lots of vegan tendencies. I eat 90% organic food, usually purchased at Whole Foods or Publix, though we are looking into joining the CSA available here. I too eat (local) honey, but no milk. Though, life has not presented me with an adequate substitute for Whole Foods’ organic parmesan cheese.

    Since I’m married (and don’t work) I cook pretty often. We eat out when we want but I’d say that 85% of our dinners/breakfasts are at home. I’ve got a little room in my backyard that might be able to grow some herbs and veggies. So we’ll see this summer.

    When I discuss food with my friends I know how crazy they must think I am. I try really hard not to come off as smug or preachy. I generally know what farms my food comes from and if not, that it’s at least organic. But, I recognize that all of the energy and money this takes this makes me incredibly lucky and privileged.

  52. Lauren
    March 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    As a flower, veggie, and honey lover, up with bees! BEES4LIFE.

  53. March 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    currer bell: Eating in a socially/globally conscious manner is only for the GOOPs of the world

    Eeep – meant *NOT* only for the GOOPs of the world.

  54. Bitter Scribe
    March 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Did you see where Big Ag is pushing in Iowa to make it a felony to shoot videos documenting animal cruelty at farms and factories?

    At least they just want to throw the messenger in jail, not shoot him.

  55. March 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    One more thing (I could talk, write, and think about food all day) — try to get involved in or create your own “food community.” Here, it’s easy to vend at our farmers’ market. We occasionally sell baked goods and I hope to sell canned stuff this summer, too. We’ve started a canning club. I’m also organizing a group to teach homekeeping skills – from basics like how to stock a kitchen on the cheap, to cooking/baking basics, to canning and preserves. You meet a lot of cool people and get a good excuse to spend time with friends you don’t see often enough.

    And man, you should see how well we eat at parties…

  56. VegFoodie
    March 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Jill, I really liked most of what you wrote, so I’m sorry to single out one sentence and complain about it, but here I go:

    “The idea of removing a major source of food from the list of options isn’t going to fly if you believe that food is for something more than just to fill you up.”

    That’s just not true. I understand that many people love meat and would not consider eliminating it from their diets, and I am not judging people for feeling that way (after all, I eat supermarket eggs, which are produced inhumanely and unsustainably). But I believe that food is for something more than just to fill you up, and I eliminated meat and fish from my diet.

    Sorry, it’s just a bit unfair. Vegetarians and vegans are not all stoic pragmatic robots. Lots of us are crazy about food. Some of us even spend most meals excitedly discussing what we’re going to eat at the next one.

    • March 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      I really liked this post, but I had a problem with the implication that vegetarians are not people who believe food is for more than to fill you up. I am a vegetarian and a major foodie as are most of the vegetarians I know. I realize I’m taking a lot of offense at one sentence, particularly when the overall substance of the piece was good, but I was greatly bothered by that sentence.

      and

      “The idea of removing a major source of food from the list of options isn’t going to fly if you believe that food is for something more than just to fill you up.”

      That’s just not true. I understand that many people love meat and would not consider eliminating it from their diets, and I am not judging people for feeling that way (after all, I eat supermarket eggs, which are produced inhumanely and unsustainably). But I believe that food is for something more than just to fill you up, and I eliminated meat and fish from my diet.

      Sorry, it’s just a bit unfair. Vegetarians and vegans are not all stoic pragmatic robots. Lots of us are crazy about food. Some of us even spend most meals excitedly discussing what we’re going to eat at the next one.

      You’re right, that was phrased poorly — I am certainly not under the impression that vegetarians or vegans only eat to fill up. However, removing meat from your diet is inherently limiting when it comes to experimenting with food; removing all meat and dairy and other animal products is really really really limiting. I know there’s a wide array of awesome vegetarian food out there; there is a significantly smaller array of awesome vegan food. My point, I think, is more applicable to veganism, but if you are a super-adventurous eater (and especially someone who likes to try all kinds of new things, likes to eat out at new restaurants that open up, and who travels a lot and enjoys sampling local food), veganism is not appealing. At all. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make good vegan food, but it does mean that veganism, being a very restrictive dietary restriction, is limiting if you are the kind of food-lover who sees food as an adventure and a fundamental, important pleasure. Really limiting.

      That doesn’t mean there aren’t great vegan meals, again; but I suspect that most vegans are vegans for ethical and moral reasons, not because the food is so great. And I think if we’re being honest, we have to say that being vegan means you don’t get the opportunity to enjoy the full range of pleasure that food allows. That’s a trade-off that vegans make for their ethical beliefs, and that’s laudable. It’s not a trade-off that I would be willing to make.

  57. saurus
    March 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Jill: and

    My point, I think, is more applicable to veganism, but if you are a super-adventurous eater (and especially someone who likes to try all kinds of new things, likes to eat out at new restaurants that open up, and who travels a lot and enjoys sampling local food), veganism is not appealing. At all. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make good vegan food, but it does mean that veganism, being a very restrictive dietary restriction, is limiting if you are the kind of food-lover who sees food as an adventure and a fundamental, important pleasure. Really limiting.

    I don’t know if it’s your intention, but I don’t think it’s quite right to conflate “sees food as an adventure” with “sees food as a fundamental, important pleasure”. Those two might be irrevocably linked for you, but I don’t think they are for everyone – certainly not me. For example: food is the greatest source of pleasure for me, bar none – but I don’t feel particularly inclined to experiment with everything, try everything, eat everything the locals eat, and so forth. That adventurous, experimental quality is not the form my food-loving takes. I’d be perfectly enraptured just eating the same old things I love – things which meet my dietary restrictions, which are both ethical and medical – but that doesn’t mean I don’t see food as a fundamental and important pleasure.

    In a nutshell: I do not feel restricted. I do get the “full range of pleasure” – it’s just that what’s pleasurable to me isn’t necessarily the same as what’s pleasurable to you. I don’t think there’s some universal spectrum of food pleasure that can indicate objectively whether any given person is “missing out”. It’s different for everyone. Some vegans and vegetarians might feel restricted, especially if – as you said – their food-loving has an experimental, “try it all” quality to it – but not all of us do.

  58. Athenia
    March 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Recently, I made the decision to stop buying milk for my apartment and buy fresh fruit instead. I love milk–and I still hit up starbucks, but I wanted to make a guilt-free effort to bring more fruit into my diet.

    As for vegetarianism, it really opened my eyes that as an omnivore, I can get vegetarian dishes too! In past, I thought those were only for people who identified as vegetarians. Silly me. Opening myself up to vegan and vegetarian dishes means I eat less meat, but I don’t have deny my up-bringing either.

    I have a tough time making my lunches so recently, I bought a cookbook for bento boxes. It’s been super fun so far—it makes your lunch so much fun and worth the time and effort. I might not keep up with it, but it has been amusing so far.

  59. March 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Question: what the hell is a GOOP? Gentrifier-or-Otherwise-Pretentious? What?

    I’m sorely jealous of the folks here who have access to such wonderful things like grocery delivery, walkable grocers, farmer’s markets, and CSAs. Because those are all things I could relatively easily incorporate into my life if they existed where I live (and for the five months that the farmer’s market is open here, I do make use of that…but not like I used to. The farmer’s market used to be reliably cheaper than the grocery store in many cases; now it’s universally 3X more expensive—call it “the gentrifying of food”).

    I used to belong to a CSA, and it was GREAT!! I picked up my veggies every Saturday at the farmer’s market. But then…CSAs in my area all went to the “food tourism” model, where they don’t deliver into the city—subscribers have to drive out to the farm, on a weeknight to pick up their stuff. Literally all the CSAs in my area do this. I wrote a letter to my former CSA explaining why I would no longer be able to participate (single parent, two jobs, weeknight pickups incompatible with school/etc. schedule, the added expense of gas money, the added drive time (minimum ass-hauling time: 1 1/2 hours out and back from my downtown location) which would de-facto make CSA nights unofficial “fast food nights”–kinda defeating the purpose…) but never got a reply. CSAs where I live are apparently intended for people of leisure.

    What do I do? Pretty much the same thing every other single mother of my class and ethnic background does: mostly cook at home, sometimes use takeout or pizza when schedules get too tight. Eat a carb-heavy diet (fuck a no-carb diet). Keep staples on hand (rice, eggs, garlic, onions, a few cheeses, deli meats for paninis, noodles, canned tomatoes, olives—that sort of thing). Stuff to make quick meals out of. Enjoy seasonal produce, because during the winter and early spring the produce in the local supermarkets goes bad quickly—with rare exception, it won’t last a week (bagged salad and bean sprouts are usually bad in the store…no, I’m not kidding. Flyover country grocery stores suck). I plant a few things in the garden (mostly peppers, tomatoes, eggplant), but haven’t had time to can anything in years. I forage occasionally (dandelion greens, chicory, morels, wild blackberries, that sort of thing).

    But mostly, I do like currer bell recommends and enjoy what I have and what I can do. Number one with a bullet for me concerning food is: use that opportunity to nurture myself, because (a) I have to eat anyway, and (b) it’s usually the only form of nurturing I get. On my table, anything I fix is going to smell great and taste out of this world.

    • March 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      Also am I the only person who wants to have a meal with La Lubu?

  60. cat
    March 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I am mostly with paraxni (though I am an American and would also want to point out that the US is a big food producer, so not only Americans eat food with pricing or production affected by US food production subsidies). Though, obviously, other areas of the world differ. In the US, meat and high fat foods are the cheaper option, in, for example, Southeast Asia, this is generally not the case at all.

    But, back to the main point of paraxni’s post, it is easy to talk when you are not living it. It is easy for you to say something like “grow a garden” without considering that, for example, people in public housing cannot do so. Or that people have dietary restrictions that make other options more difficult. Or that people have disabilities which make the work of gardening and cooking difficult to impossible. A trip to the grocery store takes an entire days energy for me and trying to eliminate wheat (for health reasons, my doctor suspects celiac and I cannot get the confirming test and have a condition that gives false positives on c-reactive protein tests) is already breaking my budget and I have a hard time with certain foods as part of my aspergers. So, yeah, talk is cheap.

    Another point-I grew up in a poor farming community in the US. Many of the “green” groups, when attempting to pass laws to hurt big agro business, fail utterly to take small farms into accout and hurt them ten times as much. For example, laws about having to hire environmental consultants. You know who can pay an environmental consultant easily? The factory farm. You know who can’t? The small dairy farmer. There is a huge lack of discussion amoung vegetarian groups about how some of the laws and ideas they are backing hurt rather than help the issue by doing things like this.

    • March 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      But, back to the main point of paraxni’s post, it is easy to talk when you are not living it. It is easy for you to say something like “grow a garden” without considering that, for example, people in public housing cannot do so. Or that people have dietary restrictions that make other options more difficult. Or that people have disabilities which make the work of gardening and cooking difficult to impossible. A trip to the grocery store takes an entire days energy for me and trying to eliminate wheat (for health reasons, my doctor suspects celiac and I cannot get the confirming test and have a condition that gives false positives on c-reactive protein tests) is already breaking my budget and I have a hard time with certain foods as part of my aspergers. So, yeah, talk is cheap.

      Except that’s not responsive to the post. No one on this thread has said, “Grow a garden! Eat X,Y or Z!” What people have done is respond to the post, which asks what you do in your individual circumstances.

  61. Thomas
    March 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I still cannot find any justified reasons or have heard any such arguments as to what gives human the ethical right to farm animals for consumption. I believe that in order to ethically justify animal farming one needs to maintain a deep anthropomorphism and speciesist hierarchy that imagines humans at the top. The arguments for cultural practice, tradition, family, money restrictions, and geographic limitations as justifiable criteria for eating animals that were farmed for meat are based upon this implicit (and sometimes explicit) speciesism.

    If one can morally be OK with this sort of speciesism then that is their decision, but for this vegan I see no ethical way to justify the farming of animals for meat and consumption without this sort of deep anthropomorphic and speciesist belief–a belief that privileges human animals above all others based on little more than a constructed human-species identity that defines itself through a disavowal of all animal others (as not human and therefore ‘killable for…’). No argument that I’ve ever encountered that justifies the eating of meat has ever done so without relying on the binary-turned-hierarchy between humans an animal others.

    • March 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      Well, I’m cool with a “speciesist” hierarchy. Why? Because humans, as a species, have the cognitive abilities to even discuss concepts like “ethics” and “morals.”

      Just curious, Thomas: Do you oppose spaying and neutering animals that you keep as companions?

    • March 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      Also, isn’t the whole concept of “species” itself a hierarchy, and evolution inherently about some species evolving and being higher up the chain than others?

      Also, don’t other animals eat other animals? Are they speciesist?

  62. bellereve
    March 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    This is something I have been struggling with for a while.

    Does anyone have suggestions for a single person who is A) vegetarian B) on limited income and C) unable to prepare most recipes due to a disability?

    I would really appreciate this. Because I usually end up buying cheap microwave dinners or snacking on convenience store food all day. This does not make my body happy, and it would be nice if my tiny food budget was not going to Nabisco, Nestle, Kraft, etc. (I don’t know any specifics of what these corporations do, but I’m betting they aren’t super ethical). It is always nice when a friend cooks for me, but I cannot return the favor and I’m trying to be as self-sufficient as possible.

  63. March 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    bellereve:
    This is something I have been struggling with for a while.

    Does anyone have suggestions for a single person who is A) vegetarian B) on limited income and C) unable to prepare most recipes due to a disability?

    I would really appreciate this. Because I usually end up buying cheap microwave dinners or snacking on convenience store food all day. This does not make my body happy, and it would be nice if my tiny food budget was not going to Nabisco, Nestle, Kraft, etc. (I don’t know any specifics of what these corporations do, but I’m betting they aren’t super ethical). It is always nice when a friend cooks for me, but I cannot return the favor and I’m trying to be as self-sufficient as possible.

    Seconded. I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat very little meat and no fast food (ground beef is gross), I have a limited income and lots of debt, and I can’t do much cooking because I don’t have a full kitchen (just a microwave and toaster oven). The food that I end up buying – take-out, microwave dinners and stuff – is overpriced, mediocre, and not particularly good for either me or the world around me. If anyone else is in a similar situation and has learned to prepare and eat good food despite that, I’d love some advice.

  64. Munchausen
    March 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    No argument that I’ve ever encountered that justifies the eating of meat has ever done so without relying on the binary-turned-hierarchy between humans an animal others.

    Moral agency, my friend. Animals are not intelligent enough to choose between right and wrong. They cannot choose the good, and they can’t be held responsible for what they do. It is our capacity for moral agency that separates us from the animals.
    If you think about moral agency, and what a moral agent is, and then consider a creature that cannot be said to possess that property in any sense at all, the difference should be obvious.

    I believe that in order to ethically justify animal farming one needs to maintain a deep anthropomorphism and speciesist hierarchy that imagines humans at the top.

    It isn’t our humanness which is morally relevant. We would consider alien species which were capable of moral agency to be persons, when you think about it.

    And I already know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say that people who are severely mentally handicapped are not moral agents and never will be, or that infants are not currently moral agents, and yet they are all persons. But the thing is, you don’t have to currently be a moral agent to be a person; moral agency just has to be in your essence. What I mean by this is that being a moral agent has to be a part of what you are; it must be a part of your essence, or a part of what you would be if your natural capacity to exercise it were not somehow thwarted.

  65. Thomas
    March 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Jill: Thank you for your responses. First,

    Jill: Because humans, as a species, have the cognitive abilities to even discuss concepts like “ethics” and “morals.”

    I believe that in this case an intersectional and ecofeminist analysis can benefit from the linguistic basis of your comment. Ecofeminists have pointed to the multiple ways and interlocking realities between the oppression of women, animals, and ‘nature’. Speaking for ‘others’ is a problem that many feminist projects have grappled with in the past. For example, in a disability studies context cognitively-impaired humans who lack the ability to speak are still treated ethically. When pushed to their many discursive extremes, there is no one way to identify human from animal others. The most common way, language, is a linguistic privilege (in group being those that can speak an understandable language) that is attributed to only humans. In fact, like you bring up, human and companion species develop means of communication that fall outside of ‘discussion’ and ‘human language’.

    As to your question, I was arguing against the farming of animal others for the purpose of consumptions and producing meat not the more general argument against causing pain to animal others. Pain is a reality. Life is painful. I would say personally that I am not against spaying and neutering companion species as a means of controlling pet populations that lead to millions of animal deaths from starvation and euthanasia. I believe this is where I will contradict myself and I’m OK with that contradiction of causing some sort of pain to companion species in attempts to solve a larger problem of domesticated animal suffering. However, questions of life and death (for) are a completely different subset of ethical questions. I believe when drawn out a speciesist logic is very similar to other logics of domination (white people on top, men on top, Colonizer on top, etc.).

    Jill: Also, isn’t the whole concept of “species” itself a hierarchy, and evolution inherently about some species evolving and being higher up the chain than others?

    The question of evolution is interesting because in fact what is most drawn upon is Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection which leads to a larger understanding of evolution. Elizabeth Grosz writing I think can probably do a better job than I can on this point but here it goes. Thinking of evolution as the means by which humans have landed ‘on top’ moves into a theory of social darwinism. In the past such a theory of social darwinism has been used to justify the oppression of racial others, women, and the deemed ‘less intelligent’ but the more intelligent white, european, rich men. I argue that stopping at this constructed (and it is constructed and not a natural) boarder between humans and animals ignores the experiences, lives, and value of animal others. And this ignoring of justified killing of animal others within this speciesist logic is an impulse that boarders on sociopathy. The lives of animal others should be recognized as grievable lives. These lives should be treated with the same respect and dignity given to human life and not as objectified others made to serve a purpose such as the production of meat for consumption. Going back to the larger point of needing intersectional analysis, I believe ignoring the larger, shared oppression between women, nonhuman animals, racialized others, queer peoples, disabled people, etc. is something we can no longer do in the face of such a large amount of animal lives literally being led to the slaughter.

    • March 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      When pushed to their many discursive extremes, there is no one way to identify human from animal others.

      I would suggest “biology.”

      Going back to the larger point of needing intersectional analysis, I believe ignoring the larger, shared oppression between women, nonhuman animals, racialized others, queer peoples, disabled people, etc. is something we can no longer do in the face of such a large amount of animal lives literally being led to the slaughter.

      …and I personally find it really offensive to compare human beings who have been tortured and oppressed to animals. Are you honestly arguing that the spider I kill in my shower should be grieved the same way as, say, a 13-year-old child who dies? Or that differentiating between the spider and the 13-year-old is speciesist?

      To go back to my previous question: Do you think that human beings are allowed to exercise control over animals at all? Is training dogs ethically wrong? Neutering cats? Keeping animals as pets?

      Also, where do we draw the line on what is or isn’t an animal worthy of protection? If everything is a slippery slope and creating a distinction between human beings and cows is speciesism, is it unethical to kill bacteria? Any living organism?

  66. Munchausen
    March 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I argue that stopping at this constructed (and it is constructed and not a natural) boarder between humans and animals ignores the experiences, lives, and value of animal others.

    Thomas, I have a comment above yours that is still in moderation.

    I guess my position here would be that we aren’t better than animals just because we’re more developed, we’re better than animals because we are moral agents and they are not. As far as the moral worth of animals is concerned, their moral status is linked to their ability to suffer. If they can’t suffer, or if doing it to them doesn’t cause them to suffer, it doesn’t matter. And as for driving species out of existence, that is wrong only insofar as it is harmful to us.

    I’m having a hard time believing that you really can’t see any ethical significance in moral agency.

  67. Kristen J.
    March 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Well, when M and I were super broke and living in a tiny studio we would eat a lot of dashi with rice noodles. You can make dashi with kombu and dried mushrooms if you are veg*. A little tofu, beansprouts, onion, mushrooms, etc can be added to spice things up. We also ate and continue to eat a LOT of quinoa. “Retail” it can be ridiculously expensive, but if you can find a “bulk” supplier its very, very cheap. Although that may take a rice cooker (which we always had) but you can get one for $15-20. If you can spend that much up front, rice as a starch is much, much cheaper than other starches and quinoa is a very filling veg* source of protein.

  68. Munchausen
    March 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    …and I personally find it really offensive to compare human beings who have been tortured and oppressed to animals.

    I actually don’t think it’s offensive, as long as he is saying that killing animals is as bad as we generally consider killing people to be, rather than that killing people is no worse than we generally think killing animals is.

    Also, where do we draw the line on what is or isn’t an animal worthy of protection?

    He’s going to say “consciousness.” Just watch.

  69. Tony
    March 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    He’s going to say “consciousness.” Just watch.

    Is there anything wrong with that?

  70. March 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    bellereve: Does anyone have suggestions for a single person who is A) vegetarian B) on limited income and C) unable to prepare most recipes due to a disability?

    What I do a lot that I think fits these requirements is eat a lot of beans (I like black), rice, and veggies. Basmati rice is a little pricier, but if you can afford it, I hear it’s got more nutrients than regular white, and brown is fairly inexpensive and also pretty nutritious. I also buy a lot of frozen veggies, and with a good steamer (I found a rice cooker/veggie steamer combo at Target for $10) you can have the rice and veggies cooking simultaneously while you stove-cook or microwave the beans. I just sprinkle cumin, cilantro, and other spices into the beans to add some flavor.

    I also really like black beans with eggs for breakfast (not sure if you eat eggs).

  71. David
    March 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Jill: I would suggest “biology.”

    …and I personally find it really offensive to compare human beings who have been tortured and oppressed to animals. Are you honestly arguing that the spider I kill in my shower should be grieved the same way as, say, a 13-year-old child who dies? Or that differentiating between the spider and the 13-year-old is speciesist?

    To go back to my previous question: Do you think that human beings are allowed to exercise control over animals at all? Is training dogs ethically wrong? Neutering cats? Keeping animals as pets?

    Also, where do we draw the line on what is or isn’t an animal worthy of protection? If everything is a slippery slope and creating a distinction between human beings and cows is speciesism, is it unethical to kill bacteria? Any living organism?

    It really depends on what the meaning of morality is. If morality is a tool that is used only to uplift homo sapiens at the expense of others, then it should be perfectly acceptable to see animals as wholly subsidiary to our desires as human beings.

    However, if we extend our perception of morality as one that is instead subservient to the need to minimize the suffering of all living animals, then our perception shifts. Slaughterhouses change from a convenient source of food to a morally reprehensible place where other living organisms with emotions, who can feel pain and pleasure go to die.

    As a meat eater myself, I understand the emotional core of Jill’s argument. However, I find Thomas’ argument strangely compelling. For one, it seems to take a more nuanced approach to animals and morality than a simple dichotomy of “human” and “not worth it”. We can have a moral continuum that places slaughtering animals, neutering animals, keeping animals as pets, and exterminating bacteria in an appropriate moral continuum, without lumping all of them together under a category of “not-human”.

    So, to play devil’s advocate here, what meaning does “moral agency” have if it is simply a “right”, or a “quality” that we have given to ourselves? It is nothing more than a self-actualized superiority complex that in the name of “moral expediency” allows us to live with ourselves when we bite into the flesh of another (formerly) breathing animal.

    I’ll have to ponder that next time I order a big mac.

  72. March 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Munchausen: Moral agency, my friend. Animals are not intelligent enough to choose between right and wrong. They cannot choose the good, and they can’t be held responsible for what they do. It is our capacity for moral agency that separates us from the animals.

    If animals are unable to determine right from wrong due to low intelligence, what would be your reason for such a small percentage of living creatures (humans) on the planet being given that ability over them? Ans at what point is it clear that we are actually more intelligent or moral than other animals, or that we are actually in possession of some right to enforce morality on other animals? How are you measuring intelligence and morality? By the ways that we communicate, and how we don’t yet understand how to communicate with animals? How do you know that humans’ apparent natural tendency to be moral agents is superior to other animals’ instinct-driven behavior?

    I mean, you just assume so much when you use “moral agency” as a way to argue against meat-eating. There are a million different places you could go with that argument.

  73. Thomas
    March 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Jill: Are you honestly arguing that the spider I kill in my shower should be grieved the same way as, say, a 13-year-old child who dies? Or that differentiating between the spider and the 13-year-old is speciesist?

    This is not the point that I am arguing. This would be considered a vitalist strategy of honoring all life as such. Life. I am however arguing for a change in the ways we encounter animal others in factory farming settings. These are settings in which animals are born, raised, bred, manipulated, tortured all for the end goal of the human consumption of meat. The spider in your shower ventured into your shower, risked its own life in coming inside, and as predator your certainly have some right to kill it in protecting yourself from a say imaginary or real harm. However Factory farming cannot be justified under the same rubric.

    I think maybe this is the point at which we are coming at the problem from very different places. I share a similar frustration with the slippery vitalist slope. I do not think that all life (say bacteria life) should be grieved when it dies. However I do believe that the lives of domesticated animals that are raised, tortured and slaughtered for meat production should be recognized as grievable lives. I believe I would make a very different argument in say a predator/prey (even hunter/prey) situation. I do not think animals in killing other animals are being speciesist. I do however believe that the horrific factory farming practices are justified through speciesist discourses.

    Many animal rights activists have argued that suffering is a good analytic for humans to understand the lives of animal others. Haraway even goes so far as to suggest that by sharing suffering or knowing/imaging the suffering of an animal other can justify an action. Can you honestly say that as factory farms are currently set up that animals do not suffer? That within farming communities no animal suffers?

    I am honestly not sure where we draw the line as to what is or isn’t an animal worthy of protection. What I do know is that the animals currently being bred and slaughtered for the mass production of meat should be considered within those bounds and therefore be worthy or our attention and protection. I think that by engaging in a deeper and fuller empathetic relationship with animal others we can begin to understand the ways in which their lives actually do matter.

  74. Munchausen
    March 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I mean, you just assume so much when you use “moral agency” as a way to argue against meat-eating.

    I was actually arguing in favor of meat-eating. My argument was that due to animals’ total lack of moral agency, their moral status derives only from their ability to suffer.

    Ans at what point is it clear that we are actually more intelligent or moral than other animals, or that we are actually in possession of some right to enforce morality on other animals?

    First of all, we aren’t “enforcing morality” on animals. That would be impossible, since they have no free will. We are clearly more intelligent than animals, as is evidenced by our ability to have this sort of discussion (and our ability to choose between right and wrong).

  75. Thomas
    March 16, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Munchausen: Animals are not intelligent enough to choose between right and wrong.

    I absolutely disagree with this argument. There are thousands of empirical studies (e.g. Frans de Waal) that show many animals are capable of choosing between right an wrong and making those moral decisions you find key to defining ‘personhood’.

    Munchausen: moral agency just has to be in your essence. What I mean by this is that being a moral agent has to be a part of what you are; it must be a part of your essence, or a part of what you would be if your natural capacity to exercise it were not somehow thwarted.

    How do you know what is in an essence? Who gets do decide what is within another’s essence? This human essentialist argument is very tricky and has been critiqued over and over again by ecofemists and feminist science studies scholars.

    • March 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

      I absolutely disagree with this argument. There are thousands of empirical studies (e.g. Frans de Waal) that show many animals are capable of choosing between right an wrong and making those moral decisions you find key to defining ‘personhood’.

      Right and wrong to a degree (a small one). Did I miss the study where lions were given a choice between veggies and meat, and went with the veggies because eating other animals is morally wrong and colonialist and speciesist?

  76. Thomas
    March 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Munchausen: We are clearly more intelligent than animals, as is evidenced by our ability to have this sort of discussion

    This argument is no way to justify the killing and eating of animals. I find striking parallels between this sort of logic and e.g. colonialist discourses that justified the colonization of others that seemingly lacked ‘intelligence’. Do you honestly think there is no way we can, as humans, communicate with other animals?

  77. z
    March 16, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    The speciesism/human superiority/circle of moral concern fight is ancient and I’ve never encountered anyone who was swayed by either side’s arguments (which are pretty much always the same). Going over it again is pointless.

    A few things worth mentioning, though:

    Also, isn’t the whole concept of “species” itself a hierarchy, and evolution inherently about some species evolving and being higher up the chain than others?

    No. That’s not how modern evolutionary theory works. Check out cladistics.

    Well, I’m cool with a “speciesist” hierarchy. Why? Because humans, as a species, have the cognitive abilities to even discuss concepts like “ethics” and “morals.”

    Numerous studies have found evidence of cognitive abilities and moral reasoning in nonhuman animals.

    Carry on.

    • March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

      Numerous studies have found evidence of cognitive abilities and moral reasoning in nonhuman animals.

      Carry on.

      Sure. Moral reasoning to a degree. Not to the degree that humans do it. Not to the degree where non-human animals are debating whether eating meat is immoral.

  78. Kristen J.'s Husband
    March 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    To further clarify regarding cheap and easy food:

    – Dashi is simple to make with mushrooms, just soak, heat and strain. You can do it in the micro if you need to.

    – Dashi can be used to make rice and quinoa taste more savory. Just use it as the cooking liquid. When I was really beat, I would make rice with dashi throw in some onions and whatever veg I had available. Mixed together with some shoyu it is easy “fried rice.”

    – Asian markets are much, much cheaper for veggies than traditional markets.

    – Dashi, once made can go in the fridge or the freezer. If you having a rough day you can heat, add some tofu and raw bean sprouts.

    – Red quinoa is much tastier than the white, regardless of what anyone tells you to the contrary.

  79. z
    March 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Oh, and rice is the best food ever. It’s cheap, easy to make, and you can do anything with it.

  80. timothynakayama
    March 17, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I grew up in Asia and when it comes to eating meat, we eat FAR less than Americans. The distinction applies where you see a typical Chinese recipe with the name “Bittergourd with Pork” or something similar. The bittergourd consists of about 90% of the meal, whereas the slivers of pork make up the remainder of the dish. Unlike in the West where, in most restaurants, the meat is the star of the dish and the vegetables are just side attractions.

    The diet follows the old days, where people didn’t have access to a lot of meat. Meat was and is still more expensive than vegetables today, that’s why a lot of Asian families (in Asia) eat it sparingly…besides, according to the Chinese philosophy of eating, most meat are “yang” food, and unless you’re very young, it’s good not to eat too much “yang” food and focus more on “yin” food or neutral foods.

    Also, just like in the old days, you can, and many people still do now, get their meat from a local farmer. Someone who rears chickens or pigs (not many rear cattle – hence why beef is far more expensive in Asia) and can kill them for you if you place an order. This usually happens with chickens, as there are smaller in size and can last a family a few days (because of the meat is cooked sparingly idea). Pigs not so much, but I do know a fair few farmers who do. Of course, 1 pig can last a family for several weeks. Alternatives would be to go to a wet market, usually held on a weekend, so you choose the choices cuts from a pig just killed hours ago.

    Growing up, it was customary to learn how to kill a chicken or pig. You’d learn how to kill it humanely, as a sign of respect to the chicken or pig, sort of a “Thank you, you’ve given your life to supply us with nourishment.” According to old wive’s tales, if you eat a meal of meat and you complain about it “yucks, this meat is tough” or something similar, karma will get back to you and you will suffer some sort of stomach discomfort or something similar, the idea being – this animal gave up its life for you so that you and your family can eat it, and now you disrespect it?

    I think ANYONE who eats any sort of meat should at least make the effort to kill the animal you are eating. I watched a UK show called “Blood, Sweat and Takeaway”, and it showed all these pampered UK folks, who went to Asia, and saw how bad most families have it there, and they couldn’t even bring themselves to kill a scrawny chicken…which is really weird because they have no problems eating chicken nuggets and fried chicken when they were back in the UK. The only guy who dared to kill the chicken was the guy who was a farmer back in the UK.

    Once you’ve killed a chicken or pig, and seen how much food it can supply for a family of four or six, then only can you truly appreciate meat, or so the saying says. Otherwise, just stick to fish and prawns or cuttlefish – I find that most meat-eaters who haven’t killed a chicken or pig can at least kill a fish or prawn or cuttlefish.

    I apologize if what I’m saying seems very backward compared to the rest of what was stated above. But food is very important to me, and I just thought I’d share a totally different point of view from this part of the world :) Sorry for writing a novel!

  81. Bagelsan
    March 17, 2011 at 1:24 am

    (I’m curious about how medical testing and research fit into the ‘speciesist hierarchy etc etc’ stuff? Are people opposed to those just as much as they are to meat-eating? But I know that’s wandering further off-topic…)

    On topic, I personally have been opting to eliminate the “cheap” factor in the “fast, good, cheap — pick two!” dilemma. As a grad student this is best for me personally, because I really have very little free time and energy to make food but I do have a small income that my single childless self (with few hobbies and a very simple lifestyle) can live on pretty comfortably, so I can afford to eat at the cafeteria for most of my meals. The food is good, and when I opt for vegetarian options it’s fairly low-cruelty, but I spend a decent chunk of cash on it. So I know mine is a fairly unique situation, and requires a certain level of financial privilege.

    Of course, stuff like being single and not owning a car (and spending all my time on campus — I have spent the night quite frequently!) make it harder to find other solutions, like CSAs, which would require me to be home for any of my waking hours and would be a lot of food for just myself, etc. So it’s not just a matter of me being lazy and throwing money at the problem! :p

  82. March 17, 2011 at 1:26 am

    z:
    Oh, and rice is the best food ever. It’s cheap, easy to make, and you can do anything with it.

    Trufax. Any suggestions for making rice in the microwave? I know it can be done, but I’ve never been able to do it successfully.

    Also, I should add: for those of us without the time/energy/resources to cook, couscous is a lifesaver. It literally takes nothing more than a kettle and five minutes, and, much like rice, can be combined with pretty much anything. Unlike rice, sadly, it can be a bit expensive, unless you buy it in bulk or on sale, but it’s worth it.

    timothynakayama:

    I think ANYONE who eats any sort of meat should at least make the effort to kill the animal you are eating.

    This is actually something I’ve given serious thought since I started eating meat again this year. I don’t feel particularly guilty for eating meat (except when I eat cheaper meat that I know comes from factory farms) but I also don’t want to become too disconnected from the fact that what I am eating was once a living, breathing animal. At the very least, I think that all meat-eaters should have to visit a farm and witness the killing of an animal at some point in their lives. Some people might give up eating meat as a result; others might just become more inclined to think about the broader implications of their food choices.

  83. March 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I have been a vegetarian before too, and also a “pescatarian.” (I actually don’t like that differentiation. You’re still eating animals. It doesn’t make you less of an omnivore, just a healthier one.)

    I do eat meat now. Though I’m not always perfect, I usually source from the local Farmer’s Market, which, luckily enough, takes food stamps and matches the first $10 I spend there each week. Did I mention I’m poor?
    I’m also a mom, so I struggle to make healthy tasty food for my boys, which does include vegetarian meals when I can get them to eat them.

    Finally, and most importantly, I live in a place where I can raise my own food. I’m not just talking about my garden, which is large and lovely. I can also raise meat: chickens right now, but hopefully goats and/or rabbits soon. To the city people, it seems strange, I’m sure, but it keeps you in touch with your food. Currently, my chickens are only for eggs, not food, but in the past, I’ve helped my boys know firsthand where food comes from.

    We’ve had such a disconnect from our food for a long time in America: food doesn’t come from packages. Meat was living and breathing at one point, and it’s important that we make sure they have the best lives possible if we choose to be omnivores. Not because we’re a bunch of PETA extremists, but because it should be part of our humanity.

  84. Brandy
    March 17, 2011 at 8:14 am

    JillAlso, where do we draw the line on what is or isn’t an animal worthy of protection? If everything is a slippery slope and creating a distinction between human beings and cows is speciesism, is it unethical to kill bacteria? Any living organism?

    The obvious solution to any moral ambiguity ever is to just eat everything that moves.

  85. Kaz
    March 17, 2011 at 8:50 am

    @bellereve, and other people on limited spoons – have you seen the DW comm Cookability? It’s a community for sharing cooking tips and recipes among disabled people, and although not all of it will work for you maybe there’ll be useful things there for you.

    My personal “cooking when low on spoons” thing is baked potatoes – stick them in the microwave until they’re cooked, slice them in half, put cheese on top, stick them in the oven until the cheese is brown. I’m trying to come up with other ways of doing potatoes because I find just being able to stick them in the microwave so handy! My “cooking when relatively okay on spoons” is pasta and sauce, with the sauce adapted so I can make it in the microwave (melt some butter, mix it with flour, mix in milk, chopped veggies/whateveryouwantinit, salt, pepper and herbs, stick it in the microwave until the sauce thickens. It still requires a lot of chopping etc. but it means I don’t have to stand over a saucepan stirring all the time the way I would if I cooked this on the hob.) This may or may not work for you, because spoons work in very different ways and we all have different access to different things.

    @ Brett K – I’ve never tried cooking rice in the microwave (have done pasta, which actually works surprisingly well), but at least where I am you can get pre-cooked rice that you just have to stick in the microwave. This is a trade-off as it’s more expensive (I can get ~300g for a pound) but needs less effort to prepare.

    I have to admit, this topic makes me feel sad. Although Jill’s post is remarkably free of the “I can do it so you can do it too!” judging I usually feel and most of the commentators are only talking about what they do (most, not all; there’s been a few comments a la “cooking X is really easy!” that make me want to cry) this is a topic that’s so laden with moral value judgements most of the time that it’s hard not to become defensive anyway.

    Because, matter of fact is, I do hardly anything to make sure what I eat is ethically sourced, and I can’t. Almost all the things suggested in this thread are seriously out of reach for me. I usually live off microwave meals, where I have no idea where the ingredients in it came from, with the occasional take-out and very occasional stab at cooking. (I enjoy cooking and prefer eating my own cooked meals to the five thousandth iteration of Sainsbury’s baked potatoes, but spoon issues make it really infeasible most of the time.) And because I’m spending way more money on food than I’d like already thanks to those microwave meals (they really add up over time), although I’ll make an effort to buy organic and/or local stuff it’s often financially infeasible.

    My first priority is that I eat. Anything else is a secondary consideration.

  86. Abby
    March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

    People who are interested in this topic (animal cruelty/animal rights) and live in the Boston area should come hear Gary Francione speak at Old South Meeting House at 6 PM May 7th.

    Also, please check out the FAQ on his website http://www.abolitionistapproach.com. He provides a compelling response to the ‘moral agents’ argument.

    Thanks!

  87. Munchausen
    March 17, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Sure. Moral reasoning to a degree. Not to the degree that humans do it. Not to the degree where non-human animals are debating whether eating meat is immoral.

    No, animals aren’t capable of moral reasoning at all. Take any one of those animals in the study. A human with the same cognitive abilities could not be held responsible for what she did at all. If a human had the same cognitive capacity, and committed a crime, she would not be held legally responsible, and an insanity of mental incapacity defense would be successful.

    My point is, no matter how intelligent an animal is, it can’t really be held responsible for what it does, and its actions can never be morally criticized. That is essentially what an animal is — a creature that does not have moral agency it in its essence.

    Thomas: No one is saying that our sense of right and wrong is not a product of evolution. Nor is anyone saying that monkeys and other animals do not behave altruistically. What we are saying is that when they do, they are just acting on impulses, and that their actions are ultimately determined only by whatever impulse is stronger at any given moment. Sometimes, the evolutionarily acquired “altruistic” impulse just so happens to be stronger at any given moment. But they cannot pursue the good. And as I said, they can’t be held responsible for what they do — and that capacity is essential to being a moral agent in the morally relevant sense of the term.

  88. March 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Does anyone have suggestions for a single person who is A) vegetarian B) on limited income and C) unable to prepare most recipes due to a disability?

    Since I got knocked up, I became Natalia, Queen of the Salad. That has *really* helped, both in terms of the morning sickness and the tightening budget and also saving energy. I find that pomegranates, if you like them, can go a long way – you can buy one pomegranate, and then keep it for a long time in your fridge, slicing away when you need to get more seeds. They really add to the flavour as well. The same with a single avocado – I can really make it stretch for some days while it’s still fresh. Then, say, you can chop up half an apple, some cabbage or lettuce leaves, maybe add some nuts (if you’re not allergic). I like to make salads with olive oil, but that can get pricey, so I try to buy in bulk. A dash of apple vinegar or balsamic vinegar can really make a difference (the latter can also be steep, but if used sparingly, it can last for a looong time). Then I’ll eat some basic cheese with bread on the side (dipping the bread in the olive oil is good). It’s a basic, nutritious meal, and it takes very little time – I love it, and I’m not even vegetarian myself.

    Also, if you liked baked apples, they can make for a great, cheap dessert (assuming you have a working oven – I have been living without one for a while, and it’s been a NIGHTMARE, but my new digs feature a working one, and I’m very excited). There’s different recipes for baked apples online – the actual preparation will take about 10 minutes, and then you can hang out and chill while they bake in your oven for about half an hour or so.

  89. Brandy
    March 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I can’t participate in this discussion (the one between Jill, Thomas and Munchausen) without getting too frustrated to be coherent, but here’s another vegan voice I find compelling: http://www.veganoutreach.org/advocacy/theoryofethics.html

  90. Kate
    March 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Munchausen: No, animals aren’t capable of moral reasoning at all. Take any one of those animals in the study. A human with the same cognitive abilities could not be held responsible for what she did at all. If a human had the same cognitive capacity, and committed a crime, she would not be held legally responsible, and an insanity of mental incapacity defense would be successful.P>

    Regardless of whether animals are capable of moral reasoning or not…not being held legally responsible for one’s actions is not the same as being wholly incapable of moral reasoning.

  91. March 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

    To avoid any confusion, that guy is not me.

  92. March 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I just want to cosign with Paraxeni, Victoria, and Cat has said.

    It feels as though some of us who can’t do anything because of our situation are being left by roadside just so everyone else can pat each other on the back. I’m sorry if our existence upsets you and you want to concentrate on your congratulatory party, but these issues must be raised with everyone in mind. Personally, I think that the question shouldn’t be “What kinds of things do you for yourself?” but “What can we do to make the situation better for everyone?”

    • March 17, 2011 at 11:10 am

      It feels as though some of us who can’t do anything because of our situation are being left by roadside just so everyone else can pat each other on the back. I’m sorry if our existence upsets you and you want to concentrate on your congratulatory party, but these issues must be raised with everyone in mind. Personally, I think that the question shouldn’t be “What kinds of things do you for yourself?” but “What can we do to make the situation better for everyone?”

      But since when are those two things mutually exclusive?

      And this isn’t a congratulatory party. It’s sharing resources and ideas. Seriously, if the only acceptable activism and conversation is “talk about only those things that are 100% beneficial to every single person in the world,” nothing is ever going to get done. And we will never be able to discuss anything. Ever. Ever. Ever.

  93. PrettyAmiable
    March 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Brett K: Trufax. Any suggestions for making rice in the microwave? I know it can be done, but I’ve never been able to do it successfully.

    You can do it in a slow cooker, if you have the time. 2 hours on high, 2 parts water to one part rice. Ideally grease the slow cooker a bit. Don’t lift the lid or you’ll fuck it up.

  94. March 17, 2011 at 11:14 am

    And this isn’t a congratulatory party. It’s sharing resources and ideas.

    What about those of us who don’t have ANY resources?

    Seriously, if the only acceptable activism and conversation is “talk about only those things that are 100% beneficial to every single person in the world,” nothing is ever going to get done. And we will never be able to discuss anything. Ever. Ever. Ever.

    Way to be dissmissive. I guess all that talk about Feministe welcoming discussions of intersectionality was just talk?

    • March 17, 2011 at 11:20 am

      What about those of us who don’t have ANY resources?

      I said in the post that for some people, there really is absolutely nothing that they can do. But the proportion of people who are reading this blog post and don’t have ANY resources is almost definitely very small. If there’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing you can do.

      Way to be dissmissive. I guess all that talk about Feministe welcoming discussions of intersectionality was just talk?

      Intersectionality does not mean “everything I write must be directly applicable to 100% of the world’s population.” If that were the case, then we couldn’t write anything at all.

  95. March 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I said in the post that for some people, there really is absolutely nothing that they can do… If there’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing you can do.

    You say this but then you shut down anybody who brings this up. “We’re just not going to talk about those problems, we’re just going to talk about those us of who are doing xyz. Everyone else sit quietly and don’t disturb us.”

    …But the proportion of people who are reading this blog post and don’t have ANY resources is almost definitely very small.

    But we DO EXIST and we’ve been trying to make our voices heard. As fo me, I’m homeless. I don’t have anything to cook vegetables with let alone the money to buy them. And in case someone’s wondering, the shelter does not provide a vegetarian option.

    The ideas I see on this board are very good, but why can’t the discussion also include more ways to provide access to more vegetarian and vegan meals for those of us who can’t provide any for ourselves?

    • March 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

      No. I’m shutting down comments that are not responsive to the post.

      The ideas I see on this board are very good, but why can’t the discussion also include more ways to provide access to more vegetarian and vegan meals for those of us who can’t provide any for ourselves?

      It can. It totally can! If you want to contribute to that discussion, seriously, go for it. Others are welcome to contribute as well. But coming and saying, “This is a self-congratulatory party” is not contributing anything productive.

  96. paraxeni
    March 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

    @kaz that link looks great! Like you said, the whole “X is so easy” proclamations are what my initial comment was in advance of, because I could see it going exactly that way. Sadly it got followed up with “BOOTSTRAPS! I grew a garden while I raised a child under poverty level!”. Imagining it was sarcasm and not a real comment helped me smile. I’ll assume you’re constrained under the same system I am, where roughly £100 a week gross income is considered enough to cover everything, while “crushing poverty” is labelled as net income of anything less than £15,000 per adult per year.

    @Florence – my total income is almost exactly one third of what’s considered “absolute poverty” in this country. That’s one third OF, not one third UNDER. Yes I have the internet, because the shocking fee of £10 a month saves money, and is totally worth paying as my sole source of entertainment and social life. I know you don’t like to think of marginalised people all up in your spaces, but we’re here regardless.

    @angel – solidarity fistbump for you

    @Jill – I think you misunderstood something. I didn’t say you assumed everyone ate meat every day, but that everyone EATS every day. As in, consumes food on a daily basis. That was the base assumption I was getting at. I know the majority of people assume that everyone gets to enjoy at least one meal a day, but what I was trying to point out is that it’s not always the case. That’s why the proclamation of “You don’t have to eat meat every day” was galling, because of the basic assumption that everybody eats every single day. That’s why people don’t speak up, they assume nobody would believe them. There’s already been the presumption that internet access alone implies a level of privilege that means someone cannot possibly be going hungry, (thanks again Florence!) but I know I cannot be the only person reading or posting here who’s subsisted on coffee in lieu of food before now.

    My comment was not aimed at you, but at everyone in an attempt to get them to think before assuming that everyone reading would have access to certain services, or find doing activity X easy because these debates do trend in that direction. It’s not an attempt to shut down anything, but to remind those with certain privileges that their position is not the default.

    But, c’est la vie feministe eh?

  97. Ittefaaq
    March 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I am genuinely curious. How do you make that assertion? I mean you have access to internet and an education that made you literate. Would it be far fetched to assume that you have access to food? How do you manage that food?

  98. Brandy
    March 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Angel H.: The ideas I see on this board are very good, but why can’t the discussion also include more ways to provide access to more vegetarian and vegan meals for those of us who can’t provide any for ourselves?

    Angel, there’s a <a href="http://www.foodnotbombs.net"Food Not Bombs in Nashville. According to their MySpace page, they serve hot vegetarian food on Sundays 2:00p at Legislative Plaza on 6th and Union. It’s not much, but perhaps they will be able to give you more advice.

  99. March 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Brandy:

    Thank you so much for that link! I haven’t even heard about it at the shelter I stay at, so I’ll pass the word along as well.

    Paraxeni:

    But, c’est la vie feministe eh?

    Indeed.

  100. Elisabeth
    March 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Paraxeni,
    Yes, there are people in the world who are starving to death. There are also people in the world dying of curable infectious diseases, who don’t have safe drinking water, whose homes and families have been washed away, whose countries have been devastated by war. I guess nobody should talk about anything but that, right? I mean, why ever talk about anything if it’s not applicable to people in the most dire situation that exists in the world? And even then, maybe we can play misery one-upmanship. Is a tsunami worse than a bloody civil war? Is being oppressed by a ruthless dictator worse than losing all your children to malaria? Let’s have lots of self-righteous arguments about this where we accuse everyone else of being really privileged and silencing us, even though we’re not really being silenced if we’re commenting on a blog.

    Secondly, I would be careful making tangible income comparisons, because what one amount of money means to someone is very different than what it would mean to another. People have all sorts of limitations–physical, logistical, time, etc. that impact the realities of what money means. I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of people on this thread make under 15,000 GBP (over $24,000 USD) a year, and many might earn under 5,000 ($8,500). Obviously, that amount of money in your circumstances means you’re doing your best. That’s great. I don’t see why other people who earn a similar amount can’t share advice with each other. I had a friend who lived on under $10,000 (6,200 GBP) a year in NYC and wasn’t eligible for food stamps or any sort of public assistance. For her, food was a priority, and she prescribed to a CSA, cooked elaborate vegetarian meals every day while working full time with a long commute, etc, and managed to not go into debt. I certainly am not her, probably could not do what she did, and don’t think that anyone else should be her. However, I wanted to know how she did it so I could find ways to cook more cheaply, more efficiently, and more healthily myself. When she taught me a new spice combination, I didn’t assume she was judging me for not already eating like that, or that she would judge me if I never again used it, I assumed she was sharing with me, and I could do with it what I wanted. I think that is what Jill is asking. Share your own personal story, listen to others’ stories, and take from them what you will. That could be a cooking tip, it could be nothing at all, it could be the realization someone eats exactly like you, or not at all like you, etc. I don’t see how saying “this is what I do” is judging others.

  101. Grey Duck
    March 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Opportunities and privileges are funny things. I live on a farm. I have a small vegetable garden. The milk I drink comes from goats whom I personally feed, water, and care for. I have a reasonable sense of where their grain comes from. But I cannot afford, nor do I raise, enough animals to provide myself with meat as well as dairy. I can’t afford to join the local CSA and, when factoring in the cost of driving, the local Farmers Markets are out of my price range, too.

    But, the question was, what do I do to be more responsible within my means. I grow some of my own food. I encourage others to use or purchase the extra food I produce. I think this, more than anything, is something anyone in the working class on up can find occasion to do. My wife and I cannot eat a whole head of lettuce before it goes bad, in part due to dietary restrictions, so the logical thing to do is give some of the lettuce to friends, neighbors, or family.

    In a way, limiting waste seems like it should top the list of socially conscious things to do. If you’re going to buy, say, chicken, don’t buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and then buy chicken stock on a later day. Buy the (cheaper) bone in meat and make stock with the bones and gristle.

    As to the whole question of the ethics as debated by Thomas, et. al. …. I admit, as a farmer, I sometimes get defensive when people start claiming all farming is amoral. My animals eat a healthier, more complete diet than they would in the wild. They get treated for routine diseases that exist in all goats, wild or not. They have a longer life span than wild goats. They get a pasture to run around in. They are treated with affection, not unlike a pet. In return, once their kids have weaned, I take their milk for myself. I don’t see this as being that different than domesticating cats to keep down the rat population or domesticating dogs to serve as guard animals or (heaven forbid!) service animals for the disabled. What tyranny, bending these poor critters to our will in exchange for shelter and affection.

    If you really want to get on the moral high horse, the history of agriculture is fraught, from the very beginning, with tales of destruction. The fertile crescent became a desert. Water was polluted. Plants were forced into tighter areas, and, like chickens farmed in terrible conditions, fell prey to new diseases. What gives us the right to control when and where plants can be bred and planted. What sort of speciesist nonsense is it to uproot so-called “weeds” to help our preferred plants to grow?

    Right. I apologize for the sarcasm. I understand the argument that factory farming is bad. I agree completely. But I resent being lumped in with factory farmers when I go out of my way to ensure healthy, quality conditions for my animals. I disagree that farming is immoral. Do we kill animals and eat them? Yes. But non-plant life exists only by consuming other life. From bacteria to insects to mammals, we all eat something, and it’s almost always something that was alive right up until we bit it. I’ve never understood why plants were viewed as inferior/expendable compared to animals.

  102. March 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Elisabeth 3.17.2011 at 12:30 pm
    Paraxeni,
    Yes, there are people in the world who are starving to death. There are also people in the world dying of curable infectious diseases, who don’t have safe drinking water, whose homes and families have been washed away, whose countries have been devastated by war. I guess nobody should talk about anything but that, right? I mean, why ever talk about anything if it’s not applicable to people in the most dire situation that exists in the world? And even then, maybe we can play misery one-upmanship. Is a tsunami worse than a bloody civil war? Is being oppressed by a ruthless dictator worse than losing all your children to malaria? Let’s have lots of self-righteous arguments about this where we accuse everyone else of being really privileged and silencing us, even though we’re not really being silenced if we’re commenting on a blog.

    Thank you, Elizabeth for showing me why I stopped reading Feministe in the first place.

  103. March 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I do, however, apologize for spelling your name incorrectly.

  104. Florence
    March 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    paraxeni: @Florence – my total income is almost exactly one third of what’s considered “absolute poverty” in this country. That’s one third OF, not one third UNDER. Yes I have the internet, because the shocking fee of £10 a month saves money, and is totally worth paying as my sole source of entertainment and social life. I know you don’t like to think of marginalised people all up in your spaces, but we’re here regardless.

    Here’s what I find offensive about this: This post is about what we do, as individuals, if we can, to make different food choices in our lives. If you don’t have wiggle room, we totally understand, as Jill has said numerous times, as other commenters have said in this thread numerous times. Nobody here needs your autobiography in order to believe that some people don’t have wiggle room in their budgets or diets for this kind of conversation — some of us (including me, dear) have experienced real hunger and real poverty for ourselves, have chosen to buy medicine over food, have fed our children and gone without, and have put our kids to bed hungry. Those of us that do have wiggle room are sharing our experiences, and our experiences cover a range of class, economic, and geographical status. That’s something to celebrate. Your point about hunger, wealth, poverty, all of this is well-received because this is a community empathetic and receptive to these conditions worldwide, but this isn’t that post, this isn’t that discussion, and these aren’t those comments.

    I personally find your digging your heels in on this topic offensive not only because other poor folks in the room can and are speaking for themselves, but some also share the philosophy at hand and are sharing their experiences just fine without your help. I find it condescending and erasing, personally, for you to repeatedly high-five yourself at another Feministe fail when you’re ignoring these voices in the room. When my family and I lived (well) below the poverty line, I cooked and ate well enough and I also had personal motivation to lead a relatively involved, socially conscious life. That’s just me, but that’s why I’m participating on this blog and in this conversation. You don’t want to hear that others here are poor too, not my problem. You see “wealthy and worldly” as an American ideal and not a state of mind relative to the world stage, not my problem. So I should flay my hungriness and pennilessness open to claim authenticity and authority in a conversation about eating while poor? Nope. Nobody owes anyone else an autobiography to speak.

    It’s not an attempt to shut down anything, but to remind those with certain privileges that their position is not the default.

    Thanks for the favor?

  105. March 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    bellereve:
    Does anyone have suggestions for a single person who is A) vegetarian B) on limited income and C) unable to prepare most recipes due to a disability?

    I echo what April said above. If you can pick up a good, cheap rice cooker/steamer, do so. They can be used at any height and require only measuring. You can make rice and steam veggies and tofu at the same time. And you can make enough to eat and freeze portions. Get pint size freezer bags, scoop in some rice and veg/tofu/sauce, roll to get out the excess air, and stack in your freezer.

    As to the issues of “elitism” in eating right, I got a lot of inspiration when I lived in student family housing at a huge midwestern university. I was a single mom with a 1 year old at the time. I was also pretty much the only American. I learned a lot from my neighbors on how to make due with very little. I was always amazed at what they could whip up in our teeny tiny kitchens and on next-to-no cash. We had space for community gardens about 8 blocks away. But, as others have pointed out, it takes time and not all of us have this.

  106. March 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Florence, you made the assumption that the commentors here are relatively worldly and wealthy and paraxeni (and Jadey, but you don’t seem to want to attack her) responded that that’s not the case, and now you are offended? awesome.

  107. Florence
    March 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    groggette: Florence, you made the assumption that the commentors here are relatively worldly and wealthy and paraxeni (and Jadey, but you don’t seem to want to attack her) responded that that’s not the case, and now you are offended? awesome.

    Maybe offended is the wrong word. Surpised? Bemused? Let’s be real: You are reading a feminist blog on the internet. That makes you more worldly than most people; having internet access that’s consistent enough to comment as often as we do makes you more wealthy, relative to the rest of the world.

  108. Elisabeth
    March 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Angel H.
    Commentors like you are why I stopped reading Feministe for a long time, and why none of the young feminist-identified people I know read this site anymore.

    Like Florence, I actually find comments like yours silencing and offensive, for pretty much the same reasons. In addition, I actually think such behavior is trollish. To come in and repeatedly and angrily protest that a post about topic X is not about topic Y, and that no posts or conversations ever should be written about topic X is nothing but not silencing. Moreover, if you think topic Y is really relevant to topic X, then why don’t you contribute? Why don’t you offer something to this thread besides angry denunciation? If you want to know about ethical food resources for homeless people, why don’t you ask? Instead of saying, “no one did this, therefore you all suck,” why don’t you ASK people to do it? Getting angry at people for not automatically talking about things that are relevant to you without you even mentioning it at all times is….well, I don’t know.

  109. Very anonymous
    March 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    It’s tasteless how this post has the title “Cruelty to Animals” considering what’s actually discussed. Well, aside from Thomas, Jill, Munchausen. (Thomas, you’re awesome.)

    While the “moral agency” thing is just searching for something that humans (supposedly) have and animals (supposedly) don’t (or at least not as much as humans do) and then arbitrarily deciding that’s what matters, I can certainly understand the whole privilege-thing. If, well, sensible food is harder to access, and much more expensive, than fast-food-of-grave-implications, there’s a really huge society-problem-thingy going on. Though it seems like the US simply has exceptionally poor standards when it comes to food.

  110. Thomas
    March 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Grey Duck: But I resent being lumped in with factory farmers when I go out of my way to ensure healthy, quality conditions for my animals. I disagree that farming is immoral. Do we kill animals and eat them? Yes. But non-plant life exists only by consuming other life. From bacteria to insects to mammals, we all eat something, and it’s almost always something that was alive right up until we bit it.

    I completely agree. I am sorry if it sounded as if I was referring to all farming when I was arguing against factory farming practices. I would definitely say that from what it sounds like your farming practices are based on the formation of a close and engaged empathetic relationship with the animals on your farm. I am concerned in the same manner like you mention when this relationship and practice of care for others is lost in the larger factory farming structures. It is a social reality that animals are consumed and while it is my ideal (even utopian) political end goal to produce a world where veganism is a viable option for all people, I think the small actions of farmers engaging in practices like yours is an ethical good. My practical political goal is changing the ways we as humans relate to animal others from dissociated models of consumption to engaged, empathetic, and environmentally conscious models of consumption–which it sounds like is in step with what you are arguing for.

  111. K__
    March 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Florence: some of us (including me, dear,)

    ….

    I find it condescending and erasing…

    What?

  112. Grey Duck
    March 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I also want to put forth my support for rice cookers. They are the 30-minute crock pot for the modern age. Rice and water in the bottom, veggies in the top, push the button, do something else for 30 minutes, eat when it dings. Those of you who want something a little more complex than just rice and veggies can throw in other foods that are steamable: frozen potstickers, fully-cooked anything (my brother-in-law used to put in chicken strips, but Boca-style alternatives are definitely also possible), etc.

  113. Florence
    March 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Elisabeth: To come in and repeatedly and angrily protest that a post about topic X is not about topic Y, and that no posts or conversations ever should be written about topic X is nothing but not silencing. Moreover, if you think topic Y is really relevant to topic X, then why don’t you contribute? Why don’t you offer something to this thread besides angry denunciation? If you want to know about ethical food resources for homeless people, why don’t you ask? Instead of saying, “no one did this, therefore you all suck,” why don’t you ASK people to do it? Getting angry at people for not automatically talking about things that are relevant to you without you even mentioning it at all times is….well, I don’t know.

    I find it controlling and manipulative. Not to mention that if one really, really wants to have a conversation about Y over X, or discussed why someone is asking X and not Y, one can start one’s own Y blog where Y can be discussed infinitely at will. For free, no less.

  114. PrettyAmiable
    March 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    @Grey Duck, am I old school for liking crock pots? The rice does take a lot longer in a slow cooker. I’ve made some baller chilis on the cheap that lasted me for days. Beans FTW. Plus they freeze well.

  115. March 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Florence, I find it highly entertaining that you are telling other people not to control the discourse yet you feel fine basically telling them to shut the fuck up and get out.

  116. March 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Angel H.
    Commentors like you are why I stopped reading Feministe for a long time, and why none of the young feminist-identified people I know read this site anymore.

    Like Florence, I actually find comments like yours silencing and offensive, for pretty much the same reasons.

    No what’s silencing is being told to sit down and take a number. We don’t have time for your truth right now; we’ll get to you when we get to you. THAT’S silencing.

    Believing that it’s okay to ignore the “almost definitely very small” portion of the readership who are without the resources necessary to live a more veg*n lifestyle just reeks of privilege. To believe that that portion of the readership really is that small reeks of privilege. If you or anyone else doesn’t like that, it’s not my problem.

    I’ve come here in search of some tools to help myself and the homeless women and children with whom I share a shelter. (Brandy, thanks again for the link!) Instead, I see a lot of self-congratulations and closed ears.

    Fine. Whatever. Sorry I ruined your party…

    Actually, that’s a lie. I’m not.

  117. Grey Duck
    March 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Thomas: It is a social reality that animals are consumed and while it is my ideal (even utopian) political end goal to produce a world where veganism is a viable option for all people, I think the small actions of farmers engaging in practices like yours is an ethical good.

    That is an excellent clarification, and I thank you for it. Even though I will probably never be a vegan, I will gladly get behind any movement towards a society where being a vegan is just as viable as being an omnivore. The key word in there is option.

    I’m also in complete agreement with Cate, whose comment I somehow missed earlier, that an important step in the right direction is just making people more aware that food does not just arrive magically in packages at the store. Everything we eat, from the fruit picked by underpaid migrant workers to the meat grown under appalling conditions to the free-range, organic, empathically raised food at the other end of the spectrum… it comes from somewhere.

    Which reminds me… just because your meat was raised in (relatively) humane conditions, doesn’t mean it was butchered under them. Which is why one of the small things I do is to sell my goats to a butcher who, in what can be an uncomfortable experience for the uninitiated, keeps the animals alive and well on his farm until someone arrives. You then pick the animal you want, and it butchered as painlessly as possible. You know the animal wasn’t sick or suffering in its last days because you meet it.

  118. Grey Duck
    March 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    @PrettyAmiable: I guess what I was trying to get at is that crock pots tend towards 2+ hours and a little more prep than dumping things in a rice cooker. I, personally, love my slow cooker. And my big casserole dish, for that matter.

  119. March 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    A comment I had made that listed a couple of my favourite vegetarian recipes has apparently gone into spam. Woe!

    Could it be rescued, perhaps?

    Anyway, I hate food debates. They always degenerate into horribleness.

  120. Azeylea M.
    March 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    …one of the small things I do is to sell my goats to a butcher who, in what can be an uncomfortable experience for the uninitiated, keeps the animals alive and well on his farm until someone arrives.You then pick the animal you want, and it butchered as painlessly as possible.You know the animal wasn’t sick or suffering in its last days because you meet it.

    That’s great! (Though I have to admit, I’d probably find it very disturbing at first. “Must not name food.”)

  121. Aishlin
    March 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve been vegan since somewhere in junior high school, and I wanted to second Margaret and others who were saying that being vegetarian (or even vegan for that matter) does not preclude being passionate about food. Although in theory it means you have fewer options than do the omnivorous types, in practice those limitations can actually push you to seek out new foods you wouldn’t otherwise try. I know a lot of people who are adventurous eaters generally, but who end up missing out on interesting vegan recipes because they assume meat has to be a part of a meal. Of course not everyone who eats meat makes that assumption; the point is just that it balances out enough that there’s no reason to say vegans by definition must not place much value on the pleasurable side of eating.

    It’s interesting to see how much the available foods vary from place to place. When I lived in Los Angeles, my super cheap vegan protein staple was beans. In Tokyo, it’s tofu (or was, back when there was still food in Tokyo). And when I lived in rural central NY I had to learn to love zucchini in every conceivable form (zucchini bread, yum). It might be cool to compare people’s local food stories.

    I don’t know if I have any useful advice on eating well and ethically. For me, being vegan is something I can do to help non-human animals and, to some extent, other humans and the environment, because it doesn’t break my budget. I’d really like to buy only food I know is produced sustainably and without exploiting workers, but I don’t think that’s financially possible for me right now. Buying produce in season is another thing that’s better for the environment and also cheaper. If there’s anyone else in Tokyo reading this: I’ve noticed the big supermarkets don’t adjust their prices very much, if it all, based on the season, but all the little fruit and veggie stand places do. Those little shops are all over the place, and though they aren’t bastions of ethical food-dom –that’s where you’ll find the 50 yen bunches of bananas imported from poorer countries– they do often carry relatively local produce and anything in season will be very cheap.

    Seconding all the soup-love. Apart from the benefits mentioned already (relatively flexible and easy, can be made in big batches and the leftovers refreshed with new additions), it just makes me feel as if I’m eating more. Hummus is also fun if one has a food processor or blender, less so without. It’s relatively cheap and easy to make, healthy, stores easily, lends itself to experimentation with different flavors and can be eaten in all sorts of ways.

    Other stuff: are people familiar with Food Not Bombs and the Fallen Fruit Project? Food Not Bombs varies according to the chapter, but most arrange with farmers’ markets and such to get food that otherwise would go unsold, cook it up into vegan or vegetarian meals, and serve it to anyone who wants it. (Depending on where you are serving food to the public without a permit can be technically illegal, so be aware.) I don’t know if this is normal, but at my chapter the people who cooked the food almost always ate some of it as well. I also think some chapters are more political than others. The Fallen Fruit Project makes maps of public fruit trees and posts them online, as well as advocating for using public land to grow food (through planting fruit-bearing trees instead of purely decorative ones, for instance). Both groups seem to have a stronger presence in California than anywhere else but are in theory international.

  122. Kristen J.'s Husband
    March 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Re: Microwave Rice Cookers

    I have confirmed with my mother who actually uses one of these contraptions that they actually work. And it steams pretty much everything. Her only addition to the instructions was to use slightly less water when making short grained rice in it. Hers was $6 at the local food co.

  123. Aishlin
    March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Oh, I took way too long writing, some people have already mentioned FnB and the like. Sorry about that.

  124. PrettyAmiable
    March 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Aishlin: Hummus is also fun if one has a food processor or blender, less so without.

    I made hummus by hand once. I was the only one who would eat it because it was still chunky. :( But I liked it.

  125. Elisabeth
    March 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I want to add on to people who like rice cookers. If measuring is not your strong suit, I’ve found they’re actually pretty forgiving if you don’t measure but just eyeball it, putting in water to cover the rice by about half an inch. I keep meaning to try making a whole meal with them by using the steamer on top, but I haven’t yet.
    I lived with a woman in China who made breakfast stews in her rice cooker like you would in a pressure cooker. She would do thick corn meal based stews, kind of like polenta, with vegetables and sometimes meat in them, and they cooked pretty quickly. I’ve never tried it myself, but it seems like a good idea. The rice cooker did get really messy (she also never washed it out), so there was about a half inch of corn goop baked on the insides, and you couldn’t make rice in it.

    I also have found lentils are a lifesaver, for a cheap legume that doesn’t need soaking beforehand. I am really bad about putting beans on to soak the night before, and about cooking far enough in advance to have time to simmer them for an hour, but I love lentils because you can throw them in as is and they’re done in half an hour.

  126. Brandy
    March 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Elisabeth: I am really bad about putting beans on to soak the night before, and about cooking far enough in advance to have time to simmer them for an hour

    If you have a dutch oven, this method doesn’t require soaking: http://thepauperedchef.com/node/423

  127. Florence
    March 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    groggette: Florence, I find it highly entertaining that you are telling other people not to control the discourse yet you feel fine basically telling them to shut the fuck up and get out.

    Topic aside, this particular thread is an exercise in brainstorming solutions. Having someone insist that there are only problems, no solutions, is not only not true, but it’s controlling the dialog and is contradictory to the spirit of community sharing to boot. Pointing that this behavior is controlling and manipulative may be taboo (why? I have no idea, this type of behavior is emotionally abusive to a group IMO), but it’s a tiresome trend in the land of social justice blogs. Like I said, if one really, really wants to have a conversation about Y over X, or discuss why someone is asking X and not Y, one can start one’s own free Y blog where Y can be discussed infinitely at will. But this isn’t that discussion. That blog, that voice, would be a welcome addition to the community at large. But since one isn’t writing that blog, or contributing to the community in any way other than to declare that the OP is stupid and wrong, stopping at the declaration of privilege is social justice at its shallowest. And controlling, and manipulative, and kind of shitty. If you read that and your only conclusion is, “STFU, get out,” I’m sorry.

  128. Thomas
    March 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Grey Duck: Even though I will probably never be a vegan, I will gladly get behind any movement towards a society where being a vegan is just as viable as being an omnivore. The key word in there is option.

    Excellent. I’m glad my clarification made sense. I absolutely agree with this sort of politics. I think the call for veganism can be lost in an ‘all or nothing’ sort of dialectic that I would emphatically argue does more damage than good. Within a practical politics, the small step towards a political goal are what (in my opinion) matter the most once an end goal, in this case the viable option for all, is established in alliance.

    Grey Duck: Everything we eat, from the fruit picked by underpaid migrant workers to the meat grown under appalling conditions to the free-range, organic, empathically raised food at the other end of the spectrum… it comes from somewhere…just because your meat was raised in (relatively) humane conditions, doesn’t mean it was butchered under them.

    A great example. I think this goes back to a previous commenter’s call for people to kill the animal they are going to consume to create a greater intimacy with the process of meat production and consumption. I think you’re absolutely correct in pointing to the ways in which process by which factory bred/farmed animals are killed is often the very process that causes an animal to suffer the most. While it would be hard to get any ecofeminist to agree upon an ethical way to kill an animal for the purpose of consumption I do believe there are ways to kill animals that are ethically better than the majority of ways they are killed currently in factory farming/butchering settings.

  129. Florence
    March 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Elisabeth: I also have found lentils are a lifesaver, for a cheap legume that doesn’t need soaking beforehand. I am really bad about putting beans on to soak the night before, and about cooking far enough in advance to have time to simmer them for an hour, but I love lentils because you can throw them in as is and they’re done in half an hour.

    Lentils are amazing because they can be really dressed up or down depending on what you have available.

    I’m totally going to try to find a rice cooker after this thread. I used to be able to find them at the thrift store all the time. Haven’t looked lately.

  130. PrettyAmiable
    March 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    You can also make beans in a slow cooker! Throw them in in the morning and they are done at night. No soaking involved!

    I really want slow cookers to be relevant.

  131. Elisabeth
    March 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Brandy,
    Thanks for the tip! I don’t have a dutch oven, but that seems like a useful thing to own.

    PrettyAmiable,
    For some reason I always get slow cookers mixed up with pressure cookers, which kind of scare me. But, they do look super useful, and pretty cheap. I think my husband would shoot me if I bought another kitchen appliance, but maybe some day…

  132. March 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Brett K: Seconded. I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat very little meat and no fast food (ground beef is gross), I have a limited income and lots of debt, and I can’t do much cooking because I don’t have a full kitchen (just a microwave and toaster oven). The food that I end up buying – take-out, microwave dinners and stuff – is overpriced, mediocre, and not particularly good for either me or the world around me. If anyone else is in a similar situation and has learned to prepare and eat good food despite that, I’d love some advice.

    What about investing in a crock pot? Or a rice cooker? Roger Ebert (who can’t even eat anymore) just did a whole funny little cookbook about recipes you can easily make in a rice cooker (called The Pot, I believe) — tasty one-pot meals. Our local food pantry had a crock-pot giveaway for similar reasons, you can do a lot of homemade soup stew things in them. If cutting/chopping are problematic, maybe invest in several bags of interesting frozen veggies? I’ve done more rice-pot cooking than crock pot, but you can start the rice, then add a protein (or canned beans?) and some veggies, or veggies and cheese at the end and let it all steam together. That’s got to be tastier and better for you than grazing at the convenience store.

  133. Kristen J.'s Husband
    March 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    PrettyAmiable,

    Slow cookers are very relevant! I set up oatmeal at night in a small for breakfast most mornings. Even Kristen, who thinks turning on a stove is too complicated, has been known to make her own oatmeal in them when I am unavailable. When we were very, very poor we didn’t have one. But most of my easy crockpot cooking involves meat which I don’t this useful to people here.

  134. Moirana
    March 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Elisabeth:
    Angel H.
    Commentors like you are why I stopped reading Feministe for a long time, and why none of the young feminist-identified people I know read this site anymore.

    Like Florence, I actually find comments like yours silencing and offensive, for pretty much the same reasons. In addition, I actually think such behavior is trollish.

    Hear, hear. Besides, Angel H, Jill’s article already was chock-full of disclaimers on how not everyone is in a position to make sustainable choices about their meals.

    Bringing privilege into light is important. But to get something done in this world, you just have to concentrate on one thing at a time. If I’m talking about the Haiti tragedy, it does not mean that I’d think the japanese nuclear situation is insignificant.

  135. bellereve
    March 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    the rice cooker suggestion – I have one, but was told that it takes a good half hour to make anything in it, and I don’t have that kind of time most days. Maybe I am wrong though? I can spend at the most about 10 minutes preparing food/waiting for it to heat. 5 minutes is better.

    Thanks to everyone here who has been sensitive to issues of disability and spoons.

  136. Bagelsan
    March 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Those of you who want something a little more complex than just rice and veggies can throw in other foods that are steamable: frozen potstickers, fully-cooked anything (my brother-in-law used to put in chicken strips, but Boca-style alternatives are definitely also possible), etc.

    Roger Ebert (who can’t even eat anymore) just did a whole funny little cookbook about recipes you can easily make in a rice cooker (called The Pot, I believe) — tasty one-pot meals.

    Thanks for these, y’all! I love rice cooker related recipes because that’s about all I can handle the rare times I’m home before 10pm… the idea of potstickers in particular is new to me and I am intrigued. (I’d done the plain frozen veggies + rice thing but that both exhausted my rice cooker adventurousness and tolerance for boring food for a while.) Basically I’m a fan of anything that comes in a bag that I can rip open, dump in, and ignore. :p

  137. Bagelsan
    March 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve come here in search of some tools to help myself and the homeless women and children with whom I share a shelter.

    What an odd post to choose for that purpose. The topic seems to be more about how people personally reduce meat consumption/eat more ethically, which seems kinda unrelated. You say that exact thing yourself:

    Personally, I think that the question shouldn’t be “What kinds of things do you for yourself?” but “What can we do to make the situation better for everyone?””

    Maybe it should be, but in this particular post it isn’t. In other posts it has been. Or a new one could likely be started for that second question; it sounds like some other commenters would be on board with that.

  138. ittefaaq
    March 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I messed up the formatting in my last comment and that makes no sense now. Which perhaps is a good thing, seeing how that argument degenerated into pointless one-upmanship.

    Talking about cheap ways of cooking, my favorite tool is the pressure cooker. They are a bit pricey in generic stores, but you can find a decent cheap one at ethnic Indian grocery stores. A pressure cooker eliminates the need to pre-soak beans and lentils, since you can just pressure cook them as needed. It cuts short your cooking time and allows using less oil/fat. It is great when you need to multitask and can’t keep an eye on the stove all the time.

    It can be a safety hazard if you rush it or if you let the rubber gasket get damaged. And it’s a pain to clean and store. But still, a huge money and time saver. I usually throw in a few vegetables, beans, onion, some meat, some spices (garlic, pepper) etc in various combinations, and it frequently turns out pretty well.

  139. Kristen J.'s Husband
    March 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Bellereve,

    IF you eat fish, dashi comes in a powder (I don’t think vegan dashi comes in a powder) than can be mixed with hot water, bean sprouts, tofu, and other veggies. That only takes about 5 minutes. Perhaps that might give you enough time and energy in reserve to throw some rice or quinoa for the next few meals? Just a thought anyway.

  140. March 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    bellereve: I can spend at the most about 10 minutes preparing food/waiting for it to heat. 5 minutes is better.

    Do you have the option at all of being able to prep something in 5-10 mintutes then coming back to it in several hours? If so a slow cooker might work better for you since you can do other things or even leave for awhile while your meal cooks.

  141. Elisabeth
    March 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    bellereve,

    This might not be the most environmentally friendly thing ever, but for something quick, simple, tasty and fairly nutritious, I grew up eating ramen noodles made more nutritious with greens and an egg cracked into the broth, along with some sesame oil and soy sauce. It doesn’t take any longer than just making it with the packet, and if you get pre-cut veggies, it’s not really any more work than opening up the flavor packet. You could probably do the whole thing in the microwave, though you might want to microwave the veggies first for a little bit. If you can afford to buy eggs from free-range chickens, that’s an ethical choice you could make. If you don’t eat eggs, you could try tofu, but I don’t know if you can buy pre-sliced tofu, so that might involve too much chopping.

  142. Vigée
    March 17, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    For those of you who have a slow cooker, this is a really easy vegetarian burrito recipe that I use all the time and which is even better made into breakfast burritos with a few scrambled eggs. That way, you can eat them for dinner, and then have something kind of new and very easy in the morning. Most of it is dumping cans into the pot, and you can skip the fresh herbs and onions if you don’t want to/can’t chop. They’re from a food blog I read, so here’s the recipe:

    Crockpot Breakfast Burritos
    Adapted from Cooking Light Slow Cooker

    Place the following in a crockpot, give it all a stir, and set the pot on low. Cook for 4-5 hours (I usually go for 5).

    1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, don’t drain
    1 cup uncooked pearl barley
    2 cups vegetable broth
    3/4 cups frozen corn, no need to thaw
    1/4 cup chopped green onions
    1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
    3 garlic cloves, chopped

    When the filling is done, scramble however many eggs you intend to eat, and spread some of the filling on an flour tortilla along with the eggs. Garnish with any or all of the following:

    Shredded cheddar cheese
    Fresh cilantro
    Salsa
    Lettuce
    Guacamole

  143. bellereve
    March 17, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks for the tips everyone. I actually do not eat eggs or seafood, which further reduces my options. I also limit soy for hormonal reasons, so tofu for me is an occasional treat rather than a dietary staple.

  144. ittefaaq
    March 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    bellereve,
    This is one healthy recipe I use when I am running low on groceries/budget:

    Dr. Dick’s Lean and Mean Kidney Bean Hash

    * 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    * 1 medium onion, chopped
    * 1/2 green pepper, chopped
    * 1/2 red pepper, chopped
    * 2 to 3 boiled potatoes, chilled and diced with skins still on
    * 1 15-ounce can kidney beans
    * 1/2 cup water
    * dash of salt
    * dash of pepper
    * dash of garlic powder
    * dash of hot chilli sauce

    Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Saute the onion until it’s soft. Add the green and red peppers and saute briefly.

    Add the diced potatoes and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes, turning with a spatula every 2 minutes.

    While the potato mixture cooks, rinse the beans well to remove the “goo,” then mash 1/2 to 2/3 of the beans with a potato masher. Mix the beans into the mixture in the frying pan, add 1/2 cup water, and cover. Cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes.

    Season to taste. Serve and enjoy.

    Alternative Suggestion

    For turkey hash, substitute diced turkey for the kidney beans. Or leave in the beans and just add turkey. Either way, it’s a great way to use up left-over turkey.

    (copied from the bean bible website)
    I substitute items for whatever leftovers I have in the house – like using carrots instead of peppers or using any other canned beans.

  145. Jackie
    March 18, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I wanted to g vegetarian because of these animal issues, but couldn’t do it without feeling hungry. So now I shop mostly at Whole Foods, where they only sell organic meat humanely raised.

  146. Florence
    March 18, 2011 at 9:42 am
  147. Lu
    March 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Wow, Florence, that graphic is sad. Look at how chicken consumption has risen since the late 1970s, “compensating” for the decline in beef consumption. I think of how many individual lives of small chickens that represents compared to those of the much larger cows, and how horrible almost every one of those chickens’ lives is. Billions of chickens every year!

  148. Abby
    March 18, 2011 at 11:21 am

    The production of free-range eggs is still very cruel. The chickens are still ‘debeaked’, and are eventually killed. The male chicks are destroyed. Please check out this website to find more information:http://www.peacefulprairie.org/freerange1.html I don’t mean to depress everybody, but I don’t like to see people being fooled.

  149. Lu
    March 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Yeah, free-range only means no cage. They’re still packed in there like sardines, besides all the other poor treatment they endure. Thanks, Abby.

  150. Bitter Scribe
    March 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    LaLubu:

    The farmer’s market used to be reliably cheaper than the grocery store in many cases; now it’s universally 3X more expensive—call it “the gentrifying of food”

    I know what you mean. I felt like the biggest sucker in the world when I discovered a greengrocer who sold farm-fresh produce every bit as good as the local farmer’s market for half the price. And they were open every day, not one day a week.

  151. March 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    bellereve:
    the rice cooker suggestion – I have one, but was told that it takes a good half hour to make anything in it, and I don’t have that kind of time most days. Maybe I am wrong though? I can spend at the most about 10 minutes preparing food/waiting for it to heat. 5 minutes is better.

    Thanks to everyone here who has been sensitive to issues of disability and spoons.

    One way around this kind of daily time pressure is to take some time on a day you’re not running ragged, and make a big pot of soup, or a stew you like, or even rice/noodles/mashed potatoes to go alongside. You can freeze individual portions so you can microwave them later, or for instance, here’s what I just had for lunch — homemade soup that was in the fridge. Poured out of the big half-gallon ball jar into a bowl and microwaved, plus a piece of cheese toast. Now I *like* to cook, and I hate the chemical aftertaste of most processed food, but I’ve been making a big pot of soup once a week for twenty years or so and putting it in the fridge to eat all week. It’s a lifesaver when you’re having a blood sugar meltdown. During a long period of bereavement, when I couldn’t cope with cooking, I did a lot of cooking something big, like a pot roast, then freezing individual portions for those nights I couldn’t cope.

  152. March 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Oops — sorry to all the non-meat eaters for the pot roast suggestion, but any bean-and-veggie tagine/stew can stand in for it. What I really meant to emphasize is cooking something with a lot of servings, that gets tastier as it’s reheated.

  153. Florence
    March 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Abby and Lu, I was under the impression that “free-range organic” meant “able to go outside, forage, no antibiotics.” Then again I live in a place where free-range means you hunt for eggs because your chickens have laid them all over yours and your neighbor’s property after hunting around for grubs like proper birds, so.

    On a related note, I have a hard time researching this stuff for myself because it’s so often linked to graphic images and descriptions of animal abuse. I just want a handy reference that says this is unethical by any standard, look for these hallmarks when buying meat/eggs/animal foods.

  154. Brandy
    March 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Florence:
    Abby and Lu, I was under the impression that “free-range organic” meant “able to go outside, forage, no antibiotics.”Then again I live in a place where free-range means you hunt for eggs because your chickens have laid them all over yours and your neighbor’s property after hunting around for grubs like proper birds, so.

    On a related note, I have a hard time researching this stuff for myself because it’s so often linked to graphic images and descriptions of animal abuse.I just want a handy reference that says this is unethical by any standard, look for these hallmarks when buying meat/eggs/animal foods.

    Please note that the following refers to standards in the US, I’m not so familiar with other countries.
    For broilers, free range certified means that the chickens are allowed access to the outside. There is no definition of what “access” means, so it is often a very short period of time and in a very small space. There is no requirement for access to pasture, so it could be on dirt or gravel. For layers, there are no guidelines that I’m aware of – “free range” is basically a marketing term in this case.

  155. Brandy
    March 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I should note that different sources say different things about free range eggs in the US. I was unable to find much on the USDA website. Some sources say it’s pretty much the same guidelines as for broilers, others say there are no guidelines at all.

  156. Miranda
    March 19, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Re: quick and easy meals. The best recipe I have on this one is couscous – you put the couscous in a bowl, boil the kettle (do you US Americans have kettles? I’m never sure) and pour boiling water onto the couscous. The amount takes a bit of tweaking but basically just cover the grain. Then you cover it, wait 5 mins, and it’s ready to eat. You can add butter, lemon juice and black pepper, or (more complicated) diced sweet peppers, spring (green) onions, tofu… Actually the way I make it now for the family is boil the last three ingredients in stock then add couscous to that, but then you need a hob. Still very quick though, definitely my go-to recipe when short of time/energy. And of course you can customise ad infinitum.

    I’m finding the whole debate re. appropriateness of pointing out lack of resources interesting although slightly depressing. I agree that it is often counter-productive when any comment made is fired down in a don’t-forget-your-privilege storm. But I didn’t read Paraxeni’s comment like that at all. While I am lucky enough not to have experienced food poverty, I am completely aware that even in our so-called ‘developed’ nations it is often a huge issue. I know that, for example, families can suffer in school holidays when free school lunches are no longer available. And of course the relative cheapness of terrible processed food is well-documented. I think if we are really interested in improving the way people eat, whether for the health of ourselves, other animals, or the planet, we need to seriously think about how to make fresh food more accessible to all. For example, at my local school in the summer they provide a subsidised veggie stall once a week for families. Our local farmer’s market also accepts (I think? Unsure of terminology) food stamps.

    Of course this does little for those who struggle to find other resources needed to buy/prepare food, and I deeply sympathise. We need more community connection, I think, with an awareness of what people need and how we can help out. After I’d just had twins, for example, a neighbour I didn’t know well brought over some tubs of frozen soup – it was the most thoughtful and helpful gift ever. Or, of course, actual social services – but I’m not holding out much hope for those.

    As for the actual topic of this post – cruelty to animals – I am kind of shocked at the lack of awareness demonstrated by some as to basic animal rights theory. If you are going to write about this, please at least take the trouble to read around the subject. I myself find it a hugely difficult subject – I have been vegan in the past, am now ‘pescaterian’ (silly term) and really do not eat other types of animals on the baseline that I don’t think I’d be able to kill them. Regardless, even if you eat meat, if you have the resources to purchase ethically sourced meat you should. No-one can justify the sort of stuff that goes on in industrial farming.

  157. Abby
    March 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I hope you don’t feel attacked, but how can eating meat or other animal products ever be ethical? I can’t see a way to justify the unnecessary killing of a young, healthy animal.

  158. Lasciel
    March 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Abby:
    I hope you don’t feel attacked, but how can eating meat or other animal products ever be ethical? I can’t see a way to justify the unnecessary killing of a young, healthy animal.

    Shockingly, people have different ideas of what constitutes right and wrong. And using animal products (cheese, honey, eggs) are hardly killing a young animal.

  159. Melinda
    March 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Jill: Also, isn’t the whole concept of “species” itself a hierarchy, and evolution inherently about some species evolving and being higher up the chain than others?

    I recommend reading Stephen Jay Gould’s excellent article “The Evolution of Life on the Earth”, in which he argues against this idea. Do check it out.

    I’ll add to that: Species are not ranks within a hierarchy. That idea is very feudal. Life doesn’t work that way, and one of the main ideas stopping us from understanding that is the idea that if you eat another creature (be it a plant or animal or fungus), you are therefore superior to that creature. That’s not how an ecosystem works. Everything dies at some point, and if it didn’t, nothing would live. Dying and being able to die doesn’t make you inferior; it makes you part of life.

    This isn’t to support factory farming at all — of course factory farming is the worst perversion of an ecosystem (it’s really built on the feudal model, where God is king but God is now human) and doesn’t resemble it in the slightest — but to challenge the idea that if you eat another creature, you are therefore superior to that creature.

    Here’s a quote from Gary Paulsen:

    We don’t like to think of ourselves as prey—it is a lessening thought—but the truth is that in our arrogance and so-called knowledge we forget that we are not unique. We are part of nature as much as other animals, and some animals—sharks, fever-bearing mosquitoes, wolves and bear, to name but a few—perceive us as a food source, a meat supply, and simply did not get the memo about how humans are superior.

    It can be shocking, humbling, painful, very edifying and sometimes downright fatal to run into such an animal.

    Another point I’d like to bring up is this: Personal lifestyle changes are never going to take down the system. I personally don’t shop buy products from corporations like Kraft, Unilever, Nestlé, but it’s not because I think my few dollars less here and there will actually hurt the companies. They won’t. Instead, I don’t want my cash going to huge corporations that wreak destruction around the world. There are many places I can choose to gve my money, and that is one I’d prefer not to. It’s my money, after all. Will it create structural change? Hell no. Neither will going vegan. Let’s not kid ourselves. It can certainly be the choice that’s ethically right for you on a personal level, but it’s not going to bring down factory farming. Neither will CSA. Since these aren’t even options for many people, they’re certainly not going to wipe out the very successful and profitable model of factory farming. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat vegetarian/vegan/locally grown or raised food, just that if the primary goal is to actually challenge (and bring down) institutions like factory farming and agrobusiness, it would be more successful to challenge them directly. Personal sacrifices will affect you a great deal, but they won’t touch the corporations.

  160. Melinda
    March 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    paraxeni: I avoid food subsidised by the US Govt. by being not-American.

    There are Americans who live outside the U.S. There are non-Americans who live within the U.S. Please do not equate “Americanness” with living within the U.S. Nationality or national identity is not contingent on present geographic location.

  161. Aishlin
    March 21, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Melinda, I kind of agree. I think of being vegan like voting: at best my choice only makes a difference if an enormous number of other people make the same choice, at worst it makes no difference at all because the system is set up to perpetuate the status quo, and yet I still feel it’s worth doing for those who have the option. I try to show that being vegan can have an effect on the market by pointing to the increase in the number of veg options at grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias and so on over the past decade or so, but it’s true that the demand for those foods could grow without decreasing the demand for animal products.

    That vegans and vegetarians have accepted the conversion of animal rights from a social justice movement to a lifestyle choice is a problem both because it lulls us into complacency, letting us think just not buying animal products is enough, and because it excludes and demonizes groups of people who are already excluded enough in other arenas: the cheapest food with the least prep time is usually not vegan, food can have cultural significance which causes animal rights groups to target some ethnic groups more than others, and while rich starlets wearing fur may not be the most marginalized people on the planet the particular way groups like Peta attack those women often promotes a more general misogyny. I’m pretty radical on the issue of animal rights and wouldn’t say that, for instance, the preservation of a cultural heritage is worth the price of animal suffering, but I do think we need to recognize that targeting individual consumers for their choices, and especially targeting individuals who are already marginalized, is not the most effective way to advocate for animal rights.

    Well, I was talking about the animal rights movement here, but I think the environmentalist movement, with its emphasis on efficient lightbulbs and cars, and the movement for farm workers’ rights, with its emphasis on expensive fair trade chocolate and coffee, have similarly been turned into exclusive lifestyle choices to some extent.

  162. Mel
    March 21, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I applaud you for tackling this subject on the blog and for acknowledging that cutting back on meat is a good idea for the sake of animals, the environment and your heart. For me, it is essentially a question of: ‘Why be part of this system if I don’t need animal products to live a full and healthy life?’ (The American Dietetic Association states that well-planned vegan diets are appropriate for all stages of life). I can’t look at investigations like those by Mercy for Animals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBbYUdvGWk0 without wanting to act on my instincts. I grew up very afraid of other animals, I couldn’t even walk next to a puppy on a leash, but when my sister finally persuaded my parents to introduce a dog to the family, I learned to relate to and love creatures that I didn’t completely understand. Today I am a passionate vegan but I don’t think having a ‘vegans vs. the world’ attitude will get us anywhere and while I have friends who manage soy and gluten-free veganism with ease, I do acknowledge that it may not be possible for every human being. I have a love of cooking, which I attribute mostly to my veganism (you’ve got to get more creative by necessity!), nonetheless, not everyone shares this hobby or has the time to delve into it. My mum is now strongly leaning towards veganism but it was more of a process for her than for me. I became vegan at 20 and had only been cooking every meal for myself for 3 years at that time, on the other hand, my mum had to reconceptualise her whole idea of food. Dinner had been a process of getting the rotting flesh out of the freezer and letting it defrost before getting home from work and deciding what to do with it, getting used to replacing that big chunk of meat or cheese with other protein sources such as beans, lentils, mushrooms, tofu, tempeh and seitan can take time.
    I actually came to many other social justice issues through veganism, I think I was actually introduced to this blog through vegan friends. I’ve met and talked with so many people who are active in promoting gender issues, race issues, anti-militarism etc. We don’t all fit the angry stereotype; most people I’ve met strive to be truly compassionate towards all beings. I also acknowledge that there are many food justice issues that stretch beyond animal agriculture, including race and class barriers to access to healthy food (and ‘food deserts’). Many vegans are already working in addressing these issues but there needs to be a broader effort. Animal agriculture also hurts people, and it hurts underprivileged people more than others. Much of the labour in the meat industry is undocumented, especially in the States (I am writing from Australia) and conditions are dire. Meat plants are usually located closer to low socio-economic areas, meaning pollution and toxic run-off hits them harder. I’m a student who lives in cramped, rented accommodation with four other people (and usually others on our couch) but I manage to eat this way with lots of grains, beans and whatever veggies are on special or are grown from my makeshift veggie box plot (which involved carrying potting mix on the bus, but I could do it, so I did). I could be much worse off. If I was a disabled mother of two putting myself through university it could be a different story but I still think everyone should consider whether they really want to support this industry (think beyond whether you once saw a happy-looking cow sometime somewhere) and do what is within their power. Most vegans aren’t mad at people just doing what they can to survive, they’re mad at a system which perpetuates unimaginable cruelty for meat that is actually doing a lot of people harm and people who refuse to engage in the issues and laugh while declaring ‘mmm bacon’.

    Sorry that I just wrote an essay…I could go on for a bit!

  163. BlueSky
    March 26, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    One way to make easy and cheap vegetarian/vegan meals is to cook some pasta (which you can buy in bulk) then add 3 cans of veggies to it, one of the cans being a legume. For example, one can of black or pinto beans, one can of corn and one can of tomatoes. You can then add some hot sauce or salsa (or replace the can of tomatoes with salsa), a few slices of avocado, etc. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes unless your water takes a long time to boil (as mine does because of altitude).

    Some other combos are Italian (white beans, tomatoes, broccoli, olive oil, garlic), ‘Asian’ (water chestnuts, baby corn and/or snap peas and/or broccoli, black beans, soy sauce/peanut sauce (peanut butter, water, soy sauce, garlic, sugar if you want, just mixed together)), ‘Indian’ (chickpeas, carrots, broccoli or cauliflower which you can steam on top of the bowling pasta (or you can use potatoes if pasta seems weird), with some form of curry sauce or flavoring), Southwest (kidney beans, pinto beans, corn, hot sauce, cumin, etc.). You get the idea.

    I also eat a lot of baked potatoes with Earth Balance butter and pepper. You can also substitute potatoes in any of the recipes, really. Microwave a potato, dump some black or pinto beans or refried beans on top, with some (vegan or otherwise) cheese-type product, microwave again. Or just put salsa and avocado on top. I eat this a lot as well.

    Soups are great, too, as others have mentioned. But it does usually require chopping veggies which may be more energy/time consuming. You can take a few cans of different types of beans, some canned green beans, carrots, etc. and even some quinoa or other grain, and dump them in a pot with some stock, then leave it simmering. Or boil it for 10 minutes and then stick it in the fridge.

    Brown rice casserole is another one. Brown rice, some creamy and/or vegetable broth, whatever cheese-type things you want to use, all in a casserole dish at 350 for an hour, then put some frozen broccoli on top and cook for another 10 minutes. Good for 3-6 meals.

    Just some ideas.

  164. Mandolin
    March 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Bluesky,

    Some of those were helpful, thanks.

    Also, thank you to the person who discussed veggies/steamable-things in rice cookers (I always forget I can do that) and the person who suggested cookability.

    When spoons are in supply, we generally do a chicken stew thing in the crockpot (6-8 hours, chicken breasts & potatoes & carrots, cover with water & mix in sauces/tomato sauce/spices/whatever). Our other recipes are more intensive because they involve chopping.

    I don’t intend to give up chicken. From an environmentalist perspective, there’s this:

    what studies have found — including a study Ezra relies on in his article2– is that a poultry-based diet has an environmental impact similar to that of a vegetarian diet, and does significantly less harm than pork or beef…

    (and the entry quotes an article on Salon) Still, chickens are such efficient producers of protein that a study in the science journal Earth Interactions finds that Americans who eat poultry, dairy and eggs, but not red meat, are responsible for fewer greenhouse gases than those who consume a vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs. “Astonishingly enough,” says study coauthor Gidon Eshel, a Bard College geophysicist, “the poultry diet is actually better than lacto-ovo vegetarian.” In other words, a roast chicken dinner is better for the planet than a cheese pizza. “If you need to eat dead animals, poultry is the way to go,” says Eshel, a vegan.

    For those who aren’t persuaded by moral arguments against meat-eating, but are concerned by sustainability issues, this may be relevant.

    Angel H. and paraxeni and grogette etc,

    In contrast to others above, I absolutely do read feministe for perspectives like yours. Thanks.

    Everyone talking about spoons,

    Jesus fuck, I hear you.

  165. March 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I plan my week around food, to a certain extent. Not in a punitive sort of way – it’s actually pretty joyful. I think of what’s in season and available and what I’d like to eat, and I make sure that I plan time to go get it, and to cook it. I also often plan time with other people around cooking together, or cooking for each other. And I feel much happier, and physically healthier, when I live that way – a week or two of not doing so due to circumstances always leads to me feeling crappy.

    Of course let’s not forget privilege. I live in the Bay Area, so I have access to all kinds of foods that aren’t as easily accessible elsewhere. I can buy Thai basil, organic free-range meats, kabocha, shiso, sashimi grade tuna, relatively easily and for not too much money as long as I do a little planning. I also don’t have kids to feed. But still, even in my relatively privileged situation, I didn’t always focus on food and getting the healthiest and most satisfying version of it the way I do now. It took a conscious decision to re-orient my eating around food that was healthier and tastier, and to minimise processed food. And I was only able to do so because a. privilege, and b. I grew up in the Middle East and Asia, so my palate was already set in such a way that giving up a typical American meat and potatoes diet wasn’t hard – I already preferred to eat the way I do now, I just wasn’t always willing to put in the effort required to do so. For people whose palates are set to a more typical American diet it may be really hard to reset that in such a way that they’ll be satisfied with meals that are low in meat and high on veggies.

  166. Megan
    March 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    My partner and I had the “how do we eat conscientiously and still eat meat” conversation last summer, and we landed on hunting.

    We live in Montana, so it’s pretty easy. Having grown up in NJ, I know that hunting is not really an option for most people in urban areas. But out here, it’s actually a really good way to eat sustainable meat AND save money — a year’s worth of meat cost us $15 for the license and a weekend of butchering and processing, plus the cost of some ammunition and the gas to get out of town and back again. Still significantly less than buying the same amount of beef over a year’s time.

    And actually killing and processing the food that you eat really challenges you on whether or not you want to eat that food. Gardening is significantly less problematic for me. The jury’s still our as to whether or not I’ll keep eating venison or move to vegetarian, but it certainly has been an experience, and a nice break from the grocery bill since my partner and I are both in grad school.

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