Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A gentle thanksgiving

I'm seriously considering going vegan.

Eugene Vegetarian Education Network (www.eugeneveg.org/) holds monthly meetings on the first Monday of the month. I went to October’s EVEN meeting where Wayne Geiger talked about Lighthouse Farm Animal Sanctuary (www.lighthousefarmsanctuary.org/) and since then I’ve been doing some of my own research, yielding pretty unsettling results.

I’ve always prided myself on eating organic foods and no red meat, by which I mean cows. Unfortunately, I recently discovered that pork is considered ‘red’, too. (I do love my sausage.) And the poultry I buy is organic and free-range only; the fish wild, not farm-raised. But pride goeth before the fall, they say.

You see, I reminded myself at the EVEN meeting that when I eat out , the meat is not organic or free-range. My chicken tikka masala at Evergreen’s Indian Restaurant comes from chickens housed in battery cages only a half a square foot large. Some of them die from extreme temperatures or succumb to severe hunger and thirst during transport. They are debeaked and put through pain and misery just so I can eat a chicken ceasar salad or a chicken and black bean burrito from Laughing Planet.

When we prepare for our annual Thanksgiving dinner, we never buy a turkey because my husband's boss buys them for everyone in the company. Giant Butterballs. And I eat it. The dark meat. I cut up the gizzards to make delicious stuffing with pork sausage for added flavor.

But the pigs I eat can’t turn around in their breeding pens, or even sit down. They go through massive mental trauma, as evidenced by their gnawing at the metal bars they are imprisoned in. And the turkeys. Well, that’s just horrific.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, www.peta.org) did an undercover investigation of the Butterball company and this is what they reported:

Butterball turkeys are killed using a process that involves hanging live birds by their legs, shocking them in an electrified bath of water so that they become paralyzed (though they still feel pain), slitting their throats, and then running them through a tank of scalding-hot water for defeathering. (www.goveg.com/feat/butterball/butterball.asp)

This week I listened to a talk by Will Tuttle, author of “World Peace Diet”, which said that within three weeks your taste buds could completely change. I've had experiences where my own tastes have changed and I’ve not liked things I previously had eaten. You know, like, Snickers bars and Kool-aid. The sugar content now is revoltingly high and I can't stomach it.

Though, I have to say that sugar continues to be an embarrassing vice. I can eat whole vegan dark chocolate bars in one sitting and handfuls of vegetarian candy at a time. Nothing I'm proud of and proof that if I do make the switch, my junk food slip-ups can (who am I kidding? will) continue. But maybe I can train my taste buds to do without sausage and bacon. Wouldn’t that help create a more peaceful planet? Wouldn’t I be contributing to the solution of global warming rather than the cause of it? After all, animals (especially cows) raised in factory farms are one of the main causes of greenhouse gasses.

I'm going to talk with my husband about my idea of our family pledging veganism for three weeks, and then seeing what happens. Maybe after three weeks and a complete taste bud overhaul, we will be able to shift to a more gentle diet.

And even if none of the rest of my family do it, I may very well continue on my own quest for the end of animal cruelty. I can at least do my part by not eating them myself. One can make a difference.

Be gentle (www.gentlethanksgiving.org) this Thanksgiving, my friends.


Alicia said...

I'm curious if you went for the trial veganism? I was vegan in the past and am mostly vegetarian now. I can't do all or nothing, or I just crash and burn. That said, we're mostly vegetarian and try to get our animal products from places where we know they were treated well (like eggs from a HS friend's chickens). We just can't in some cases like butter and milk, and for now I just figure I'm doing enough good in other ways and I can't handle giving those up on top of every other food issue I've heaped on myself (going for organic, trying to cook from scratch, avoiding chemicals and additives... LOL).

I have a lot of vegan friends and vegan cookbooks if you ever want some recipes or recommendations. There are some great vegan cooking blogs out there too. Nice to meet you, BTW. :)

Valerie Willman said...

I'm so sorry I didn't return an email to you! I have only today figured out how to receive email notification when someone comments on my blog! How mortifying.

Anyway. The answer is no. My family didn't go for it, and -- I'm sorry to say -- I've been craving meat. EWW! I can't believe I said it. Maybe it's an iron thing; I am slightly anemic and take an iron supplement with herbs when I remember to.

But we took a trip to a local farm and would like to buy our meat from them.

And now, if we can only manage to be vegans in public, where we don't know where the meat and animal products come from, we'd be on to something!

We us luck!

Valerie Willman said...

Aii! And I forgot to mark the box that says 'email follow-up comments' to me again!

I will get it soon. (sigh)