Monday, June 6, 2016

Compassion? Ethics? Choices?

Can you even believe that Monday has rolled around so quickly? Damn, I'm not ready. But this is the week, I swear it, that I am going to finish this new screenplay so that I can start to tweak and needle and rewrite - my favorite part of the work.

But in the mean time I wanted to pop in here and talk to you about some changes that are afoot in my world.

Are any of you familiar with the 2003 documentary film THE CORPORATION? If you've not seen it, I highly recommend it. Yes 2003 is a long time ago, but that film is as current today (sadly) as it was then. I think you can even watch it free on Youtube. In any case, there was a segment in the film about dairy and the evil corporation Monsanto. It got me thinking about dairy and my choices as a consumer.

For over two decades I was a vegetarian, I swore I would never eat anything with parents or a face. 

I have often wondered why we have organizations around rescue and humane treatment of one of these animals yet think it's perfectly okay to put the other on the stove or in the oven. That's kinda fucked up.

I chose the vegetarian lifestyle out of compassion for animals. I decided that I would not eat anything that I couldn't kill myself. As I have no desire to kill a pig, chicken, lamb, or cow, I would not eat them. A couple of years of living on the West Coast of British Columbia had me indulging in the occasional bit of freshly caught wild salmon. It's very much a part of the culture out there. But when moving back to Ontario a year ago, I continued to eat fish and now I was eating not only salmon, but Tuna (dolphin friendly, pole caught) halibut and shrimp. I guess I sort of reasoned with myself that I'd done my fair share of fishing as a kid and did kill the fish and fry it up. So my theory of compassion sort of evolved. (not the best choice of words, perhaps devolved is better). But seeing this documentary and how these cows were abused and in pain got me thinking, wow I need to stop eating dairy and why does a fish not deserve the same compassion as the chicken or cow? 

However I got stuck on my cup of tea. What? Yeah, my tea. Since giving up sugar, my morning cuppa just ain't the same but it's drinkable. OR it was until I tried it with almond milk. Gross. Coconut milk. Nope. Forget soy, not even going there. Milk is the only thing that makes the tea even remotely drinkable. Yet am I okay with torturing a cow for a cup of tea? No. I am not.

First things first, some decisions needed to be made. Is it ethical to eat fish when I don't eat meat for compassionate reasons? How is a dolphin worth protecting but a tuna isn't? Decision made. Once the fish I have on hand is consumed, I will not be buying more. I am returning to a vegetarian lifestyle. I am not suggesting that everyone in the world do this, I am saying this is the right choice for me. But could I be a vegan? He Who Shall Not Be Named is vegan, so it's not like it would be a super hard decision in my family. However, many of the foods I loved as a vegetarian I can no longer eat because they contain soy and wheat. (Ah, there's the WHEAT post reminder again, I'll get there Janice I promise). So no tofu, no tempeh, no tofurkey, not a lot of veggie burger options as most contain eggs, what to do?

I did my research on the organic dairy company that I get my milk from. Turns out that they are a co-op made up of small family run local farms. Some produce organic feed that in turn feed the free range antibiotic hormone free cows that provide milk. I looked at photos of the farms and the families and read the bios and practices and it all seems very sustainable and nice. Of course they are not going to put up pics of sick cows or anything like that. But still.

On the other hand, the good and noble folks at PETA say that animals are not here for us to consume, wear or be entertained by. I do agree (mostly), I think my dog is pretty entertaining.

And I also happen to think my girl Myla's dog is very entertaining. Check him out HERE. He's all business.

Yet when I think of what these small farms are doing I sort of like them. Yes they are making a living off the backs of animals but are those animals not living a pretty decent life because of that? Would they exist or be slaughtered otherwise? I'm genuinely asking your thoughts dear reader. Do you think it might be a worthwhile endeavour to support our local farms so that big industry or corporation owned operations cannot muscle their way onto our land to mistreat the animals, generate harmful waste and abuse the land with all their chemicals and pesticides etc?

Or should we just turn our backs on the use of animals altogether and survive without them on a purely plant based diet? That's the bigger question.

He Who Shall Not Be Named and I took a long walk this morning and we wandered through a beautiful neighborhood here in Toronto with large homes and expansive yards. As we walked we dreamed of living in such a place and I posed a question to him. What if we were to live in a place like this and keep chickens? We could care for them and love them and feed them well and give them a good standard of living - in other words have happy chickens. Would you eat the eggs then? He considered this and his answer was yes. So knowing that the chickens are well cared for and loved and happy gives us an opportunity to enjoy an egg at breakfast. I understand that we can't all each own our chickens. And in the early days perhaps this was how trade happened. One person had chickens and another had a cow with milk and someone else grew the veggies and everyone traded and fed one another. Yes, that's an ideal world. Then the corporation came.

I guess I am toying with the idea of veganism but I'm not there yet. I am a selfish girl who wants her cup of tea as she sits at her computer making up stories. But I kind of take some pleasure in the thought that I am perhaps providing entertainment to those who provide me with an egg or milk for my tea. Am I living in a fantasy world? Or could we go back to this way of being if we made the choice to support local and organic and sustainable small business. Ooooooh, we could even shop locally for clothing and other items thereby eliminating the need for foreign sweat shops and child labor. I dunno, just musing I suppose.

I'd love to hear what you think.
Have a great week.


  1. Hey girl,

    First off, Smalls is so thrilled to be in a blog post. His first. Ever. So exciting.

    And second, this really post really resonates with me, as it's an issue that I mull over pretty much constantly. If I had to describe my current diet...probably 90 vegan/GF/SF (even a good percentage raw if it's a good cooking cooking, but get my drift)...then 5% omnivore, and 5% give me the goddamn *insert whatever crazy ass thing I'm hankering for*.

    My husband. See. My husband. He is from Texas, and he's a bonafide carnivore. That said, I've been dishing up a lot of vegan dishes lately, and he's been gobbling them down. When Nate likes a vegan's a winner. So even though he's varied his diet a lot...he'll never go vegetarian. Or, at least, I'd be gobsmacked if he did.

    My body also struggles with being 100% vegan. No matter how I try to supplement or make accommodations with what I eat, I have problems with anemia. And it is a real bummer.

    The other thing that is sort of specific to my/our diet is our home....Asheville, NC. It's super-duper, hippie-trippy, slow-food, local grown, organic your face off, farm to table, and so on. We're really fortunate. If we lived in another area, I do think there is a significant chance I'd be making major changes to our kitchen.
    A bunch of our friends own happy chickens, and we benefit from their happy fowl. There is a guy (or several, actually...but I prefer one) who drive our to coast and line fishes...and comes to Asheville twice a week. CSAs from reputable farms for fruit/vegetables/dairy/meat/etc. Farmers market up my street once a week. People legit barter for good and services here. I trade sewing stuff quite often for plants/CSA/etc. So Asheville makes me more comfortable with what we're currently doing.

    But dude, I could never kill anything. Not even if the zombies were coming. Probably...I'm sort of scrappy. And zombie apocalypses, I'm to understand they're real bad.


    (Check out Oh She Glows blog for a pretty, bitchin' vegan veggie burger....Nate approved!)

    1. Smalls needs his own social media set up. He needs a google tweet insta-book account dedicated to his fashion exploits.

      I love that you have access to happy chickens and farmer's markets - it's like the old school fantasy I was referring to!

      We have our local farmers market every Wednesday June-October so I am able to get local eggs and will get meat there too. (I cook for the dog and he cannot be a vegan or a vegetarian sadly)

      For now I am going to make the best and most informed choices that I can and as time marches on I'll see if I can transition to vegan lite - lol.
      I love Oh She Glows! I also have a bitchin' vegan kale burger recipe that I'll post here soon. Kevin loves it and I like it too. I love that the burgers hold together and I don't have to add eggs or chia for them to do that. Chia freaks me the hell out!

    2. Hi Shan, interesting post. I think people’s dietary preferences/choices are much less one size fits all, and much more custom tailored. You can pick and choose whatever suits you, and what you feel okay with morally. I’ve been a vegetarian since 2007 and it was because I love animals and don’t want them to die for me. I like cows nice and alive, happily munching away all day and flicking their tails.

      I don’t eat meat or fish, but the one exception I do have is shrimp. I don’t really know why. Because I have no idea what a shrimp face looks like or have never looked one in the eye? (do shrimps have eyes?) To me they just seem like little floaties in the ocean. I realize that may sound like just BS to some people but I dunno… it works for me because it is a source of protein and I can live with it. My husband and stepsons could eat meat for every meal (gag); last night they barbecued brats and I almost died. Meat does seem more and more gross the more time goes by.

      Anyway, I’m not vegan because the animal doesn’t have to die and I guess I haven’t seen the documentaries that would put me off dairies and chicken farms and all that. I don’t really drink milk (but eat stuff with it as an ingredient) and I also don’t really eat eggs (I never really eat breakfast; but again I eat stuff with it as an ingredient). I am a fan of cheese. It’s all very complicated and you can change things as you go through life; I have heard of people being vegetarian for like 20 years and then go back to eating meat – that’s a weird concept to me but I guess it just means you can never say never. But I look forward to hearing about your continued journey through the farmer’s market of life. Again it’s a personal choice and it should mostly be what you are comfortable with, and agrees with your body, etc. <3

  2. Ha! He is a very special little dude, and quite the little ham for the camera.

    And the is quite the pickle about your ick factor regarding chia seeds. I love Oh She Glows...glad you do too! I also really dig Love and Lemons, this rawesome vegan life, My Darling Lemon Thyme, Oh LadyCakes, and The First Mess for recipes and inspiration. I basically get up every morning and read your blog and then food blogs until it's time to get up and get moving. :)


    1. Will def check out these other bloggers, thanks buddy.