Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My dilemma

I don’t know if I’ll end up hitting the publish button and reveal this on the blog or not but I need to write about it. If I have published it, know that I expect nothing humorous to come out of this so if you’re looking for jokes I beg you to skip this post and move on.

I’m not going to try to explain here why I hold no belief in such ideas as good or evil or right or wrong. How even the concept of species and the label ‘human being’ are to me, only ideas; only patterns of generalized observation that contain no qualitative certainty. How the only things that exist in my perception of reality are matter, cause and effect, the unique living experiences of each unique living organism and the natural consequences that punish or reward every action we take.

I’m being punished right now.

I have not awakened from a dream in which I brutally murdered a family of innocent people only to suspect that it might not have been a dream and had to grasp the horrific implications of it. Not precisely, anyway.

But I have been experiencing an awakening of another sort for a couple years now and the changes in my life are wildly profound. I’ve been relearning everything I once thought I knew and it was inevitable that this current reckoning would arise.

A couple weeks ago, while driving a long distance and pondering some of the great volume of material that I work with and measuring their great many connections against each other, I stumbled onto the flaws in some beliefs I chose to subscribe to more than twenty-five years ago and the disturbing reality of a 39-year-old habit. I was stunned by intense remorse and I broke down in tears and have done so several times since.

As a teenager I confronted the idea of vegetarianism and immediately dismissed it for three reasons.

1 - I was meant to be carnivorous and had the incisors to prove it.

2 – Life for a beast in the wild is brutal and typically ends in bloody violence. Life for a beast on a farm is surely more pleasant.

3 – If it weren’t for farming, these species would probably not exist but would be extinct or facing extinction for their failings under the laws of natural selection.

These arguments all collapse in the face of my current understandings, except that I really don’t know for sure about the life of a beast on a farm. And – as always – no understandings can be consolidated until I fully experience them with my own five senses.

So I will make no firm decisions about the future of my diet until I can experience the relevant realities. Getting onto family farms will be a cinch. Gaining access to industrial farms will be another matter altogether. And getting into slaughterhouses will be a significant challenge, I’m sure. But I must do it. I have no choice. The chances of finding balanced objective books or documentaries are almost nil. Every author and producer will surely have an agenda. But I’m determined to succeed. An acquaintance works at a Maple Leaf processing plant where killing is done but he doesn’t work in the killing area and he’s a junior person and he’s new there and is unlikely to welcome the risks in breaching his employer’s security. Mind you, I did write the resume that helped him get the job so perhaps he’s grateful enough.

Some interesting things have happened in this two-week period of troubled speculation. One could easily call them signs or omens but I know they are only coincidences. My favorite butcher closed down; went out of business. I was at the library looking for fantasy and sci-fi videos and spotted a DVD titled Earthlings. I grabbed it and immediately sensed that it had to do with the treatment of animals and not spaceships. Of course I watched it and found flaw in almost every word stated. Its agenda is clear. I kept a dinner date at the Keg steakhouse knowing that it might be the last steak I’d eat and allowing a qualified chef to make his case for meat eating. I chose the top sirloin labeled ‘our most flavorful steak’. It tasted utterly bland to me. Whether it was something psychological or because it was prepared unusually rare – I don’t know.

For now I can no longer buy the meat of mammals. My instincts suggest there is almost surely more cruelty behind it than I can tolerate. I will still eat fish and dairy for now; until I’m able to investigate those industries and make enlightened decisions.

The prospect of diet change is a troubling one. I’m generally not fond of fruits and vegetables. Starchy foods are an unwise choice for me. I’ve been living primarily off meat and dairy for some time now. I wish I knew more vegetarians. I could use a lot of advice.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could help you. Phillip won't eat meat anymore (remember he is 5) because "I like chickens that are alive. And Pigs too. I don't want to eat dead ones."

I thought... Damn. he sort of has a point. I couldn't care less if we were to cut meat out, but others here might have a fit. Like the dad and the Leah, LOL.

I hope that you find your answers.

Sukhaloka said...

I think the first person on your list has to be YOU. As long as you're alive, you need adequate nutrition. If you can manage to live off cereal, soy, and up your fruit/vegetable intake, well and good. Go vegetarian. If you can't, it's either you kill yourself by inches or eat the animals who would die anyway.
I'm not vegetarian officially, but other than my daily piece of fish(which I sometimes skip) I'm not a meat biggie either. Fruits, nuts, lentils and vegetables are absolutely essential to a balanced veg diet, especially if you're going without dairy(which I do except when I'm PMSing... TMI). For me, it's a matter of what my body likes. So it's easy. I feel that you should go with what makes you feel good physically.
In the end, anything we eat - except salt - has life and/or has come from life. We must eat a living tissue to build living tissue. Since animals move and can emote, it's easier to see them as "living". But plants are living too. So what would we do? Stop eating? I just don't think that works. Because I know I need to survive. So I eat. As does everybody and everything, in its way.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Supermom, I love your kids. They say the most amazing things!

Suki - I've created a file for essential 'vegetarian' information and your advice is the first item to go in.

Thanks so much - both of you - for your support.

Now to the dictionary... lentil... lentil...

Sukhaloka said...

Lentil is a kind of legume.
I meant legumes, not lentils sorry. When it comes to food, my English is quite crappy.

All kinds of pulses and legumes help give you the protein meat would give instead.
And now I google for translations of the Hindi/Bengali names :sigh:. Lentils are really good, kidney beans are wholesome and heavy, chickpeas are good too. The Net has loads of easy recipes from all over the world. Now that you're out of your culinary comfort zone - start exploring!
And if you find your energy levels dropping, talk to your doctor about adjusting your diet. Going veg should NOT deprive your body of anything if you're doing it right.

Roger said...

A sirloin is kind of bland and tasteless anyway, especially if it is broiled. To doctor one up I use a marinade from Grill Mates and BBQ it. My favorite has to be an “Eye of Rib” also lightly marinated in a little olive oil, soy sauce and spice mix from McCormick. Served slathered in sautéed mushrooms and some garlic bread on the side…dam im hungry….
Anyway, mass production of boxed beef is not a pretty picture, of which you will learn on your own. Here in the states with all of the scares of food poisoning and unknown additives, there is a small movement starting, which basically boils down to: The only way to ensure the highest quality of meat and produce, is to know the first name of the grower… oh yea, I feed my hamburger every morning, his name is "stew".

And good luck on your quest, personal questions are the hardest to answer.

Babs Gladhand said...

Believe it or not, I was once involved with a man who was a butcher. He owned his own shop, and I know how the animals were slaughtered. It was as humane as possible. Not that I watched the "kill guy" shoot the animals, but I know he was very careful about making sure that one shot would put the animal down.

I wish you all the luck in your search of what is right for you. You're the only one who can make this decision, but whatever it is, I'm here to support you.

Kathleen said...

I'm a vegetarian and have been one for over 20 years now. There are many many many vegetarian cookbooks out there with very tasty recipes. I know because I own many of them, even though I never cook.

I have a couple of books that are simply related to being a vegetarian. One is called The Gradual Vegetarian and the other is geared toward teenagers, but I thought it was good for anybody called Veggies Rock! Or Vegetables Rock!

I can mail them to you, if you like.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Thanks so much, everyone, for your support. It means a lot to me.

Indeed these choices are very personal ones. I don't wish to preach - only to maintain joy in my own life!

Kats: I was hoping you'd have some advice for me. I knew you were vegetarian. Thanks! My email: rich.landriault @