Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ethical Eating

One of the things I constantly grapple with is how to eat ethically, without making myself completely crazy or making my husband miserable. ("It's Kale Night! Every night is Kale Night! The kale flows across the land like river!") I want to eat in a way that nourishes my body and my soul. I'm privileged to live in the wealthiest society in the history of the world and to be one it's members with enough income and leisure that "What's for lunch today?" can be a moral choice, not just survival.

On the flip side, my monkey brain says "Eat salt and sugar! Lay on the couch and order take out! Maximize calories and minimize effort!" and I'm enough of an aesthete that I want my salt and sugar dumped on my taste buds in novel and interesting ways.

I'm not the only person who struggles with the morality of eating. Michael Pollan has written entire books on it. Adam Roberts tried pescatarianism for two weeks before giving it up. Mark Bittman can only manage part time veganism. So what am I supposed to do?

The trick is, like Bittman, to make compromises. I read his Vegan Before Six book at the beginning of the summer and liked the approach. Intellectually, I know that eating a plant based diet is better for me and the environment. I've read Fast Food Nation, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and plenty of Barabra Kingsolver and Marion Nestle. I get it. But...meat tastes fucking AMAZING. I love cooking my husband a juicy steak, roasting chickens for dinner, going out for a burger and visiting my in laws is not the same without tiny, delicious homemade pork dumplings at least once.

So...compromises. I can eat two meals a day vegan, or vegetarian. I've been doing it this summer and I like it. I have to be a little more conscious about my choices, but I feel pretty good about those choices. My husband doesn't share my enthusiasm, but he'll never turn down a stir fry, whether the protein is beef or tofu.

Ethical eating is more a journey than a destination for me. I started this a few years ago, looking to eat less processed food and support local businesses. Now I'm eating quinoa oatmeal and subscribing to a CSA. I'm feeling pretty good about my choices and where my path is going.

1 comment:

Maggie Smith said...

I'm an accidental "vegan/veggie before 6" person. Not every day, but most days. Breakfast always consists of oatmeal (sometimes with milk) or fried eggs and beans on a corn tortilla, or a smoothie. Lunch is almost usually soup, the question is what kind. Unless I treat myself with sushi or a salad. Then dinner is whatever the heck I want. I like the last part a lot! I'm a big fan of chicken nachos for dinner!!! And then there's the days where I pig out on popcorn and kale for dinner and I realize I didn't have one single meat product all day by total accident.