Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of a Loca-Vegan

I recently read a book that ALMOST convinced me to become vegan (or at least eat like one). As a non-meat-eating lactose-intolerant, I am already 2/3 of the way there. Although written as a diet/weight loss book, Skinny Bitch argues for veganism primarily for health reasons, but also for environmental and social reasons. Most of their arguments stem from the fact that the highly industrialized method of meat, dairy, and egg production often leads to more contamination than we’d like to acknowlede. Really, who wants arsenic in their omelette? Not I.

But therein lies my problem with the book’s arguments for veganism. I am fully prepared to stop supporting the “industry”: I will refuse to consume or purchase any animal product that was produced in a questionable manner. But what about small family farms? What about hunters? Can I eat the fish my friend caught off his boat? (This is relevant: I live in Maine.) It's difficult to argue that eggs coming from small, local, organic farms are ridden with chemicals and pesticides. The same is true for meat and fish: if I can meet the guy that shot the deer, and he skinned it and butchered it, I’ll eat it. Hunting is sustainable. Cattle overgrazing the land and mass-slaughtering is NOT.

At first I was enthralled with the idea of veganism: it seems as though it really is healthier and generally more sustainable than the majority of the meat and dairy industries. But I've realized that the deciding issue for me is not animal rights (although most slaughterhouses are abhorrent) but impact on the environment, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Hence I chose a new route, not really vegan but inspired by it. This is my personal loca-veganism. But I won’t judge you – you can eat whatever you want.

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