My recent trout fishing outings have left me with not only food for my barbecue but also food for thought. I'm one of those "vegetarians" that will eat seafood and dairy but won't eat soup made of chicken stock. I wear leather cowboy boots but won't go near a steak. I will also eat venison if I know the hunter and hear his story to be assured the animal didn't suffer. So it's time to address my inconsistencies and hypocrisies before I can carry on with this lifestyle choice.
It all began seven years ago in June (my birthday - a time for life reflections) when I finally committed to going veg. I had read philosophical essays and seen videos of chicken factory farms and decided I would try to end animal cruelty in my own small way. I resolved to be more like Gandhi, figuring if he could do it before the mass availability of soy products, I could do it too. Looking back, I remember I was also spending the majority of my days in supermarket meat departments fending off meat thieves in my role as a store detective. In hindsight, it may have been the hours spent staring at gizzards and other raw meats, pretending to be interested in buying them, that turned me off more so than Gandhi's teachings.
Nonetheless, I had made my decision. I spent the next several years being nearly ostracized from my relatives and coming up against other obstacles in finding vegetarian foods all the time. It's now become such a part of my daily life that I had forgotten why I was doing it and didn't realize I may not want to do it anymore. Last time I checked, my efforts so far haven't changed the world.
Just as it took baby steps to become vegetarian, my next baby steps back again could be to go organic instead of going straight back to the frozen meats. Living on the Sunshine Coast, there are plenty of free-range and organic foods available. Humane and environmentally-sustainable food producers should be supported as an alternative to mass food production. Also the larger businesses that support food banks or other community programs should be supported.
This change of mine was already on my mind when I went to a food security meeting this week for the Sunshine Coast's community food action initiative. Ideas about encouraging people to grow their own vegetables and concerns about people not having the time to truly appreciate cooking were flying around the room. I could use some planting lessons, since all the seeds I planted last year sprouted only weeds. Brainstorming and networking sessions like the one I attended are important for coming up with strategies to address food issues. I applaud the people who are putting work into this initiative for a self-reliant Sunshine Coast where no one should be deprived of nutritious food.