Monday, February 16, 2009

A Personal Rant on Vegetarianism

As I get deeper into vegetarianism, I've noticed that a lot of the vegetarian/vegan resources out there obsess with talking about animal cruelty... This happens a lot among the converted conscious collective - like an effort to keep us from succumbing to the temptation of bacon, steak and fried chicken.

I'm signed up to the Peta newsletter, and a couple of vegetarian podcasts with the lure of getting tips on great recipes and nutritional information. 80% of the content delivered by these focus relentlessly on factory farming, cruel treatment to mass produced farm animals, animal testing, etc. Some of the more extreme vegetarian/vegan resources even go far as stating that animals used in tv commercials are being horribly exploited by their handlers. Let's not even talk about those who are against cute animal pictures and video websites...

Now, don't get me wrong, I think the work Peta and these other resources are doing is extremely important. Turning a blind eye to this reality is not the answer to fix it. This blind eye is what let it get out of hand. They do a great job and should continue in their crusade to expose the sad reality of factory farming.

But for those already part of the choir or those motivated by their health - and no I'm not a monster for caring for my own health - where do we go to get our information without being bombarded with gruesome footage of animals being horribly treated? Where do we turn so we don't have to face the vegetarian/vegan police? Where do we go to avoid feeling like a second class vegetarian for not wearing a pin on our lapel saying "Veg or go bust"?

Maybe I am looking at the wrong resources but Google likes these sites and there are only so many searches I can do to find what I'm looking for. But even as a vegetarian (absolutely no meat in my diet), I want to be clear on the following choices I've made:

Yes, I will wear wool, I have a gorgeous hand made winter jacket made by a local artisan that cares for her own goats. She has names for each and every one and gives them the best possible care. She does not torture or hurt them in any way. I wear this jacket proudly. I know for a fact that no children or third world worker was exploited and their city or dwelling was polluted in making this jacket. Have you looked as to where your clothes came from lately?

Yes, I will wear recycled leather. I think reducing waste and reusing what already exists trumps going for new synthetics. Producing these synthetics can and do create more waste and use mass amounts of energy.

Yes, I will continue to consume dairy and eggs, but with the rule that they coming from strict organically managed farms.

Am I the only vegetarian out there that doesn't want to see these gruesome images anymore? Am I the only vegetarian looking to share recipes and knowledge with no strings attached?

Kudos to the VegetarianTimes.com for doing this successfully without pushing the horrible images on me.

Do you know of any other resources out there?

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