say CHEESE!

I love cheese.

Seriously.

I was that girl in a staff meeting in college eating a full loaf of french bread and a block of extra-sharp cheddar cheese from Tillamook. Oh, and a honeycrisp apple to round it out. And maybe coffee. I’m clearly part French, no?

At any rate, this whole cheese debacle has turned my world upside down in the span of 48 hours. I simply cannot let it go. I have been scouring the internet furiously trying to find a justification for WHY they separate mothers and calves at 1-2 hours old (or, maybe 24-48 if they’re lucky). I could find ZERO reason to benefit the animal (other than some clearly bollocks answer saying “oh, a calf drinking from the cow’s dirty teat can cause infections,”…and my question would be…um…why are you keeping the cow’s teat so dirty AND what about wild animals…they’re just fine nursing their young).

IF I could find a dairy that siphons off some of the milk, while still allowing the mother to nurse her calf during the day, much like what we imagine from the idyllic old days of family farming and using that milk to feed ONE family, I think I would be okay with that. But even the certified humane label that I’ve begun researching is somehow okay with mothers being separated from their young. I’m not okay with it. I am okay with death being a part of the natural life cycle, and if harvesting meat in the most humane way possible is our human way of doing what a lion or wolf would do, at this point I am okay with it. I’m leaving room for that to change, but I simply cannot let this go.

But, I love cheese.

And ice cream.

And yogurt.

But mostly cheese.

I’m starting with that, because it’s something I can see with my eyes. And when I see that slice of cheese and say no to it, I will be thinking of that baby cow…

So today I tried it out. I went to Panera and ordered my favorite tomato/mozzarella panini without the mozzarella. It was yummy and I didn’t miss the cheese. I stopped by Trader Joe’s and got some alternative dairy products.

I’m daunted by the whole topic. It feels like I’m face a vast ocean of sadness that I can’t make a dent in, but I hope to try.

Ethical Eating: Omnivore? Vegetarian? Vegan?

What do you eat? Do you think about where you food comes from? What goes into making it, and setting the price and it getting into your body? Do you stand in the grocery store and read labels or research food companies?

Well, I don’t.

At least, not until yesterday.

I think my class material is beginning to have an effect on me, which is good, but puts me in a conundrum, because…when faced with information (be it racism, sexism, privilege, systems) that rings true, I must make a choice. Inaction is a choice in itself, and I think that I’ve been doing that for awhile, burying my head in the sand, but now I need to figure out some steps, because something deep inside of me is stirring and I can’t quite get it to be quiet.

I’m talking about ethical eating. Which seems daunting. But, I’ve been watching these shows like Food Inc and Vegucated on Netflix, in an attempt to spark a conversation with my class about nutrition and racism and poverty and economics, and I’m being effected by it. I’ve mostly tried to avoid any sort of PETA video or information, and always try to change the chanel when Sara Maclaughlin’s song plays on the TV because I’m sure to see sad little puppies being abused. But it hasn’t been until last quarter, after watching Food Inc (which is tame in comparison to some video footage) where I realized that I might need to take a closer look at where my food comes from.

What I don’t like about some of these “radical” groups of animal lovers, is that it feels sensationalized. So watching a show that matter-o-factly shows a dairy cow giving birth and being separated from the calf so that the milk can be used for humans (and getting re-knocked up again ASAP via artificial insemination) it gave me pause to think…hmm….that might not be…right.

Maybe it’s because I am a mother, now, but the thought of that calf being raised without its mother and a mother giving birth and being separated from its calf, bothered me. And seeing baby male chicks simply thrown (alive) into the garbage because they won’t grow to something “useful” or piglets being torn from their mothers…I dunno, it put a whole new spin on this whole eating thing.

In the past I’ve justified my habits as, just that: habits. A whole “well, this is the way it’s done” mentality, paired with my childhood indoctrination that ‘God gave us dominion over the animals,” line that my fundamentalist father used to preach when we’d ever talk about saving whales. Though, I’m not sure God wants a pig to be mutilated and tortured just because of cost-saving techniques or laziness.

So, what do I do?

I’ve known people who learn this information and jump straight to veganism. They adopt the “radical” animal-free lifestyle and hope that it makes a dent in the overall consumption and destruction of animals. But, I’m not sure I’m ready to make that leap, yet. There are all sorts of practical and financial and habitual things I feel that I would have to change in order to go that route. Vegetarianism is something I am more familiar with, having been raised in a mostly vegetarian environment. I didn’t have my first steak until I was 14, and we indulged in mostly chicken/fish and very little hamburger in childhood meals. It wasn’t because my parents were animal-lovers, but because my dad had high cholesterol.

But, I keep going back to that dairy cow separated from her baby and think, well, if I go vegetarian, then what about all the dairy I consume (helloooooo cheese!) and also, what about those eggs and other animal by-products that are keeping animals in cruel environments?

Right about now is when I usually numb-out and try to forget I’ve ever seen an image of a dying chicken from too-big-of-breasts, but I can’t. The overwhelm of trying to change EVERYTHING is daunting. Not to mention….I have a child…and a husband…and my choices have an impact on them. Also, I’m not the world’s best cook, and I can’t just march home asking Boof to be vegan for my meals, he’s already doing a shit-ton to make my belly full every night.

So I feel the answer is somewhere in the middle…which might seem as a poor compromise on either side, but at least I’m moving in a direction. So here are some things I’m already doing, and some things I’m going to try to do:

Already doing:
Don’t drink milk
Don’t really eat eggs (maybe when I’m out to eat), and if I do use them I buy cage-free eggs
Morningstar sausage patties

Things I want to do/try:
Vegetarian substitutes when out to eat
Eat more veggies/fruits/nuts to feel full longer in an attempt to avoid fast food
Soy milk in lattes
Check into certified humane eggs/dairy/meat options from local places (Trader Joe’s) and farmer’s markets
Check into buying a 1/2 cow from a local certified humane butcher for beef needs
Buy Wilcox Farms eggs/dairy, they’re Certified Humane AND local from south of Seattle!
get more information about practical and small things I can be doing
try and talk to Boof and family members about making some small changes, too.