Today is Tuesday. Not that it matters. But I couldn't come up with a more interesting title for what I want to write about this evening.
For many months I've been questioning and contemplating a lot of things, specifically my faith and my consumption of meat. These two things are very related but I still have a lot of things to figure out regarding my faith and spirituality — boy am I in a weird place when it comes to that. The meat thing, I feel pretty clear about. So I'll start there for today.
Since my days at Berkeley, when I learned about the American food system, I've been careful and thoughtful about where my meat (and food in general) comes from. And I truly felt like I was doing my part until a little over 2 years ago when I got 6 baby chicks and raised them in my living room. A few months after I raised those girls, I got the fluffiest, cutest puppy who I am certain is one of my soulmates in this world. And then I got the chance to learn about training animals, specifically dogs, and I started realizing how brilliant and good and innocent animals were. And then I moved to the Slovenian countryside next door to cows who essentially hangout in our backyard. And then we found the most wonderful kitten who fought so hard to survive all alone at just 4-weeks-old and he has just stolen my heart. Throughout all of this time, it's become increasingly harder and more unpleasant for me to eat meat.
Obviously this shift is directly related to my increasing respect, love and appreciation for God's creatures, but it's something that I've felt developing for a while. Every religious text that I've come across seems to stress a wholesome plant and grain based diet with minimal meat consumption, encouraging days without meat, or requiring a certain quality of life and death for the animals. And that makes a lot of sense to me because killing and eating animals isn't something that should be taken lightly or glossed over. It's very hard to consume meat without any kind of suffering occurring (of course eggs and other animal products can cause suffering), and that suffering is something that I don't want to contribute to. Especially on the level that it occurs with conventional factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Ethically, I am clear that I believe in vegetarianism in this day and age, possibly with the occasional holiday meat feast (assuming that the animal has lead a good life, the death is humane and that its consumed in small quantities, bla bla bla, though it still feels a bit hypocritical to me). But practically, being a full-time vegetarian is a big challenge on a number of levels. Meat is something my family has enjoyed together my whole life — steak and french fries, roast chicken and sweet potatoes, lamb couscous (ok, really, almost every Algerian meal), and the list goes on and on. Eliminating that part of my diet completely actually sort of alienates me at our beloved mealtime a lot from my family, and from my in-laws, and from pretty much anybody who serves me a meat dish and might be offended if I refuse it. And then there's fish! I'm not sure I ever want to live a life without sushi and wild salmon. I actually still don't know how I feel about eating fish in general.
So where I am now is here: during the weekdays I don't eat meat. On the weekends, if someone serves me meat, like we're at dinner or if we go for a special meal and I just don't want to pass it up, I'll indulge. Fish is still on the menu all the time for me right now, but since there's not a lot of wild salmon and sushi here, I don't really eat much. Eggs are now a large part of my diet. And I want to be clear that I am in no way asking Damir to do this with me — he's a hardcore athlete who needs his animal protein and he can decide these things for himself. It's not the best or purest form of vegetarianism and I'm sure PETA would not approve, but it's a start. It's a real start that will significantly reduce my own consumption and participation and that works for me for now.
It's been about 2.5 weeks since I made this decision and it feels great. It doesn't hurt that our meals these days consist of a lot of produce from our garden and the most beautiful porcini mushrooms that I hunt for daily in the forest. But in general I feel really good about this choice and this beginning. My life is more in line with my beliefs and values and that is so much more fulfilling and satisfying than even the best steak.