Seeds and Food

"That's me in the corner, that's Adam behind
the spot. light. Losing veganism . . ."

Last weekend was one of gorgeous weather, creating a full-on itch for seed starting season. I've noticed my attitudes about food have slowly shifted as my gardening years go by. I doubt anyone has lasted through the years I've been rambling here, but if you have, you deserve an award. Also, maybe you've noticed a drastic change in eating habits. It's been a quiet change, casually worked into posts here and there. The more into gardening I've gotten, the further I've drifted from veganism.

It's funny that deeply philosophical discussions lasting hours and hours regarding the merit and life of a cow won't shift attitudes, but the simple purchase of a soy bean can. When you buy and start your own seeds you begin to understand the source of your food. You learn the difference in heirloom varieties and the "new and improved" versions, organic vs. non-organic, and what impact GMO can have on our plants. If the labels on a seed packet are important to you, you then create your own hierarchy for seed buying decision making.

The knowledge goes with you to the grocery store. Or at least it accompanied the vegan me, and slowly my attitude changed. Soy became a gamble: was it GMO soy? Why did my protein options contain so many ingredients? I was realizing just how far from sustainable my diet was and the slow shift picked up speed. As the big companies co-opted vegetarianism, making it easier to find soy dogs and vegan cheese, they were also making products to last longer on a shelf, optimizing profit and minimizing loss to spoilage. The ingredient lists were pumped full of preservatives. They were also using cheaper ingredients to entice the consumer to try their veggie options with less of an upfront cost investment.
Salt and Time

But you know what? I've been eating meat for the past year and a half, but I don't talk about it--I've been kind of embarrassed about it, like I lost a fight or maybe fell off the path of the moral high ground.

I still maintain a largely vegetarian diet, but one of straight forward vegetables, beans, eggs and low-processed foods. The meat I eat is straight from the farmer, one who celebrates the process, so when meat enters my body I feel compelled to honor it rather than hastily devour it.

After my own 10-year stint with veganism, a local cheese sampler brought me to my knees, one bite later I was no longer vegan, I was vegetarian. A few years later, with a little Mabel growing in my belly, I felt the undeniable urge to eat meat--one I resisted for 7 months but could resist no longer.

I told myself I would go back to meat-free living, but I haven't been able to talk myself into it yet.

The first couple times we had meat in our house I made C cook it. When I finally decided if I was going to eat meat I better be able to see it for what it was (not get completely grossed out by a slab of raw meat in front of me), I had to pause several times throughout the process and remember to honor the beautiful creature that was providing us with sustenance.

This guy is my post-vegan doppelganger.
After ten years as a vegan, Runkle decided that eating pork from the farm “down the road” was better than eating heavily processed monoculture-produced soy.

Phew! It's nice to know I'm not alone. But to clarify, I don't think everyone needs to eat meat to be healthy. I don't think the world should be vegetarian to stop global warming. As my oh-so-diplomatic pops says, "There are enough ways for everyone."

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And for some Friday comedy:

You mess up my vignettes, I mess up your soul. Taxidermy chicken hilarity at its best.

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Also wondering if anyone ever reads these super long posts?


Zoë said...

Longtime reader, first-time commenter...

I'm a vegan who very rarely eats soy (maybe once every couple weeks). Did you know that most of the corn and soy grown in the US goes to feed meat animals? That's what it comes down to for me.

I can totally get behind wanting to eat more locally (I am excited to end my own decade-long veganism when I have chickens someday, though I will not be killing them or eating their bodies).

I can totally get wanting to eat more sustainable, less GMO. But I still don't get the disconnect that many in the new (often urban) homesteading movement seem to have about what the meat eats. It is just a simple fact that eating beans and grains as whole foods is going to be way more sustainable than passing them through the systems of other animals first.

Just because the animals have better lives doesn't mean that eating meat is good for the environment, better for our bodies, or sustainable. What do the cows/pigs/chickens eat? Where does THAT come from? How much water do they use, both in their care and to grow the food they eat? Is it easier to handle because you don't have to think about it as directly?

Wolfie and the Sneak said...

Hey Zoë, I think you've made some incredible and valid points and I feel like I'll address them in another post later, rather than here in the comments.

One of the things I found to be really cool about Salt and Time is that they use wild animals for some of their meats.

I think it does boil down to having a well-considered diet, and no, the resources used by raising animals for meat is not lost in the process.

Wolfie and the Sneak said...

Oh yeah! And I'm so glad you commented! I love the opportunity to talk about this!

Zoë said...

Thanks! I'm so glad you didn't take offense. I like talking about this, too, but it's hard when you out yourself as a vegan, because people tend to assume you're proselytizing.

I don't think I'll ever eat meat again, but I'm definitely not a hard-line vegan. (Many vegans probably would not consider me to be "worthy" of that label, because I eat honey, use wool, and, again, look forward to having some chickeny pals running around in my yard.)

I understand that some people don't feel the same way about animals' lives as I do, and I am okay with that. I don't know that I really have a problem with hunting for meat rather than sport, for example, though I doubt I'll do it myself. I think aquaponics/tilapia systems sound like a great idea for those who want some animal protein in their diets. I really do feel uncomfortable with the resources involved in raising large livestock for food, though. Even grass-fed cows need pastureland, water, and supplemental feed through the winter (in most places).

This is one of the great things about your blog -- I love the permaculture/gardening posts as well as the crafty/art posts. Best of everything :)