“Grandma enjoys cooking her grandchildren and dogs.”
“Grandma enjoys cooking, her grandchildren, and dogs.”
Some people, like sentences, need to be approached with caution. One of the things I miss the most about our current life in this pandemic is walking my son to and from school. Those brief strolls in nature, fresh air, and the opportunity for him to decompress and tell me what’s on his mind. Sometimes we get to see things like these cool mushrooms. *Do not eat*
I can’t tell you how many adults I meet that ask, “What is this plant/fungi?” Follow by, “Can I eat it?” Like the natural world is some kind of giant salad bar! Leave it to the children to ask more sensible questions like “Is this poisonous?”
The other thing I liked about walking my child to school were the brief interactions with other parents. Nothing overwhelming for this devout introvert, just a brief “Hello” and “How about that rainstorm last night?” During one afternoon however, a mom whom I’d never met before strolled up to stand beside me. I thought she just wanted a simple chitchat, but she quickly whipped out her ulterior motive. “So what do you like to eat?” (hmm, strange conversation starter but okay.) “I’ve been a pescatarian for 23 years, actually. Which means I’m mostly vegetarian, but I eat fish once or twice a month.”
She turns to me and gives me this really scathing look and says, “Well, that’s not good enough!” She looks me up and down in disgust and proceeds to say, “You need to do better. You need to be Vegan!”
Whoa, Lady! Now I get it; why some people would get all shady and defensive when I’d mention being mostly vegetarian. They must be holding their breath waiting for some kind of lecture or critical assessment about their diet. Many don’t realize I’m a vegetarian until YEARS into our friendship or association with each other. Honestly though, you could eat old leather shoes for all I care. I’m not interested in telling other people how to eat. I’m happy to offer my perspective and concerns about certain topics, but your choices belong to you. I realized that woman had walked up to me spring-loaded and ready for a fight. She must be fun at parties.
I looked her dead in the eyes with a slow creeping smirk. Sinister? I was going for sinister. “You know you’re right. I could use more protein. I think I’ll add VEGAN CHILDREN to my menu!”
Of course, at that moment the bell rang and all the kids came pouring out around us. “Which ones are yours?” I asked.
I haven’t seen that mother since.
So yeah, we could all probably do better on making our diets healthier and less of a strain on natural resources, but I’m not going to do it because some crazy lady yelled at me. If you or a loved one has worked through a major life change, then you should know change only happens because the person is invested in making those changes for themselves. All you can do is provide support. They/You have to do the work.
I would like to recommend eating less meat though. The choice is yours. From my personal experiences, I refuse to accept or ignore inhumane treatment of any living thing. I refuse to support factory farms, especially where the lives of animals are concerned. Factory farms in the U.S. are decimating the competition, which are your local, family-owned small farms and ranches for profit. Generations-long family farms and ranches are breaking under poorly managed government subsides, the lobbying power and money might of factory farms and climate change. What bothers me most is that I know factory farms don’t care about the wellbeing of their workers or the animals they process. They also don’t care about the degradation to the land around them. I know, because I’ve been a food factory worker. I’ve worked at places that treated their workers as well as one could hope for in such an industry and I’ve worked for one that treated us like meatsack automatons. It’s grueling invisible work that damages your body and crushes your spirit if you let it.
In 2004, I had the opportunity to go to Karnataka, Southern India as part of my undergraduate degree for Social & Environmental Issues. I met with several Indian nonprofit groups who were trying to make positive changes in their communities. Some of the people I had to meet in the middle of the night, trucked out in the middle of nowhere because they feared for their lives. Their only crime was being gay and wanting to advocate for gay rights, other were survivors of corruption schemes by government entities or a major corporation. One of the groups was informing farmers of their land rights. Some of the farmers had no idea their lands were about to be claimed in the name of Imminent Domain because the notices were being posted in English in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) newspapers as notices. The farmers cried. This is not the end. We can still be agents of change like the Great Green Wall project across several African nations helping to repel desertification and support affected communities.
Where ever you live, you have the power to affect the great good. It’s always been there. You can make change happen. The factory farms make things cheap and easy for you to mindlessly buy from them. I’m asking you to stop for a moment and add a comma (a pause) to consider your options. Will you buy it because it’s cheap and you don’t have to think? Would you notice if the ingredients list started to change?
We may not be eating the children (yet), but we consume their future world with our choices.
Earthstar Mushrooms Geastrum saccatum – Wikipedia
U.S. Farmers: Climate, tariffs, debt and isolation drive some farmers to suicide. (usatoday.com) This is a photojournal that may take longer to load due to the large picture files.
Meatless Monday – Meatless Monday (mondaycampaigns.org) A movement started to encourage people to go meatless one day a week. Includes recipes, resources, and inspirational stories.