Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thinking...

I've thought for a long time that I should be a vegetarian. A really long time. I'm a serious animal lover and often read things that leave me feeling sick to my stomach over the way animals are treated, particularly chickens and pigs. I won't go into the details but it's very sad and worth knowing if you care about where your food comes from.

The problems with me becoming a vegetarian are...

...my diet consists of a fare bit of meat because there are so many other foods I can't eat due to food sensitivities...

...common meat substitutes like tofu are made of soy, a food that gives me a big tummy ache...

...I have very low iron on a good day and truly need all the iron I can get in my diet...I know there are other foods high in iron, I eat those too! Like I said, I need all the iron I can get! I'm determined to live a life without iron injections, iron infusions and iron supplements.

...I really do like meat. Just being honest.

So, I've concluded being a vegetarian isn't really for me at this stage in my life but I'm thinking there are options, right? I think the idea of Meatless Monday is a great idea, in regards to doing my small part to help with the environment but what about the animals that suffer everywhere so I can buy meat cheap at the grocery store to throw on the bbq? Which has lead me to think it's worth knowing where your meat comes from...

Organic, free range meat is much more expensive but cutting back on meat slightly is an option for me, hence Meatless Monday. So, while I might pay more for organic, free range chicken (for example) from a respected butcher, I would know I'm getting healthier meat for my body (Hello! Have you read about the hormones in chicken??) and supporting a farmer/rancher that respects animals and gives them a good life.

I haven't decided if this is something I want to commit to just yet, so I'm wondering, what are your thoughts?

...How many of you buy organic, free range meat?...

...Do you know a good, respectable butcher in your area?...

...Are you concerned about this at all or haven't really thought about it?...

...Are you a vegetarian?...

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading. I always feel better after blogging my thoughts and getting them out of my head! :)

Photo found here.

7 comments:

Skate said...

I was a vegetarian for two years after reading Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. Even though I'm not a vegetarian anymore, I try to eat free-range, ethically raised meat. I also try to eat vegetarian dinners twice a week. Whether that's as simple (free-range egg omlette with veges, tomato soup with a cheese sandwich) or a more complex meal (indian dahl with sides, mexican black beans or home-made pizza). I try to drink organic free-range milk whenever possible. But, I'm realistic about our budget too. Sometimes meat is regular, sometimes organic, it all depends on the week. Also, different legumes have different impacts on digestion. E.g. split moong beans create a curry that is gentle to digest, unlike lentils which can be challenging. Also, I like making non-vegetarian dinners that involve only small amounts of meat. E.g. mushroom risotto with bacon. You don't need a lot of bacon to enjoy a meaty flavour. Similarly, good soups, stews or chillies involve both meat and beans or vegetables, cutting back on how many grams of meat each serving contains, yet not depriving meat-lovers of the taste. Finally, calorie for calorie, oatmeal has more iron than steak! (1.7mg to 1.3mg per 150cal) http://www.fwhc.org/health/iron.htm You can definitely incorporate nuts and veges in the right ways to absorb iron better in your system. But, it's probably worth seeing a nutritionist to sort out an effective diet for your needs. Best of luck1!! xoxo

Clotilde said...

I know where you are coming from Cari, I am a bit split on this topic. A few things:

I love meat too. And vegetarian food.

A weird thing I have done is go to a farm to meet the little brothers of a lamb I had in my deep freezer at the time. It was weird to think this delicious meat once was so cute.

After visiting a slaughterhouse with uni, I couldn't eat chicken for a few days. Now I have concluded I cannot work in a slaughterhouse, but I am back eating chicken. While I was shocked by the vision of blood, I have to say there were veterinarians working there at inspecting the animals upon entry and the place was very clean and well kept, which gave me confidence.

Having studied and worked in agriculture, I usually feel animals are well treated on farms and farmers love their animals (oh, the stories...). But it is true that a farm isn't their natural environment. But, a "chicken" isn't a "natural" bird anymore, they have been bred to be farmed so they wouldn't survive in nature (except feral pigs...). When some farms switch to free-range, the animals freak out when they go outside the first time, then they get used to it. However, a pecking order is established so some chicken might have been better in a cage than being pecked upon.

Where I find the animals are not so well treated is in transportation (from the farm to the slaughterhouse). There are regulations regarding this and it is in everyone's interest that the animals make the trip safely and promptly, but often this is the "weakest link" in the food chain, animal-welfare-wise. I don't know whether buying organic or free-range means an extra effort is made for humane transportation, but if you really want to make a difference, I think that is worth looking into.

Having worked in the agrifood sector, I personally don't buy organic anything (unless the normal stuff is really looking shabby) because I trust the "normal" foods to be very safe.

This said, Rej makes me buy free-range eggs because it makes him feel better about those chickens. I think that's what free-range is about: you pay more to "feel good".

Clotilde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Visible Voice said...

I've never been a big meat eater. It's part of my issues with energy because I for sure don't get enough protein because of it because I can't eat soy either. I probably only eat meat three times a week and small portions. I rarely eat red meat...in fact it's usually a naughty fast food day that I'll eat red meat. Chicken is starting to make me gag. I also only usually have ground turkey rather then ground beef.

That being said...work on getting your body healed and then go from there in baby steps. And the meatless Monday seems like a great start. :)

Kristie said...

as a non-vegetarian, if I have friends for dinner and one of them is a vegetarian, I cringe. OMG thanksgiving nightmare!! to top it off I asked him to bring a veggie-friendly dish so at least there would be more than one thing on the table he could eat. he brought rolls. FAIL!

we get organic meat whenever we can. we also started getting a CSA box of local organic veggies and they are so good we are eating way more veggies now than we ever have.

I hope you can find your balance Cari! sounds like you are having a rough time.

BTW I was kinda vegetarian when pregnant - I had a complete aversion to meat, especially chicken. then I got sick and they were cramming protein down my throat. meat is good for you. your body needs it. if anything taught me that it was attempting and failing to grow a person.

Cari said...

thanks for your thoughts guys! very helpful! :)

Shan said...

Hi Care,

I've been a vegetarian for about 10 years now and I love it! I am a huge animal lover and I'm very sensitive to the way in which animals are treated. And I never really liked meat very much, which is also convenient! :o) I like soy products and nuts and I've never had a problem with low iron.

I totally understand that being a vegetarian would be really difficult to you with your allergy to soy and other food issues, so I don't blame or judge you at all for not becoming a vegetarian. It is important to me to buy only organic milk and eggs produced by grass- and grain-fed free range cows and hens. It only costs a few dollars more and the animals are raised under far more humane conditions. Plus, most organic foods contain no growth hormones or preservatives, which I believe is healthier for humans.