Thursday, October 15, 2009

“What’s The Point Of A Meat-Filled Life? or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Eat A Vegan Diet”

Firstly, thank you to the Dallas Vegan family for welcoming me to their little (and rapidly growing) corner of the blogosphere.  I hope to not disappoint.

Secondly, “Have a Cheeseburger. It will make you feel better.” 

Never has an odder shot across the bow started such a silly war of words.  A brief (very brief) background for those unfamiliar:  Eddie G and Jamey wanted Fair-fare.; Omnivores didn’t care-care;  Dave Faries threw out a dare-dare. 

And we answered.  Sort of.

When I say “sort of,” I mean that we all threw out anonymous blog commentary on one of Dallas’ finest food-blogging forums.  Fair enough – it’s a viable medium in this day and age.  With that in mind, my first assignment is to gather a selection of Dallas’ loudest food related (and some non-food related) blogging voices and see what they have to say about our agenda/lifestyle/diet.  I’d like to paint them in broad strokes for the sake of my loquacious ways with the goal being to expound upon some of the details/debates in the coming weeks.  This week: Dave Faries’ What’s The Point Of A Meatless Life?

If cheeseburgers are the omnivores’ ammo, Dave Faries has elected himself to the rank of General for their army.  Actually, that’s unfair.  Maybe he’s our Great Mediator – the one who can initiate the end to the on-going cold war between the Meatless and the Meaty.   In whatever capacity he’s acting, it is his column that is up for discussion.  He posited the simple question: “What’s The Point Of A Meatless Life?”  He further stated, “I’ve never understood why one would choose to be vegan or vegetarian in the first place.  Well, there is one exception.  If someone doesn’t really like the flavor of meat, a vegetarian/vegan diet makes perfect sense.”

Dave, there are many things I like, including the taste of meat.  If your reasoning is a simple as “Liking: Doing :: Not Liking: Not Doing,” then we are at an impasse.  However, I hear you’re a wonderfully intelligent man (or so Eddie G says), so, in turn, let me ask you, “What’s The Point Of A Meat-Filled Life?” 

Certainly a genuine answer to Dave’s original question could be that the point of a meatless life is one’s desire to not contribute to an environmentally unsustainable, cruelly efficient, and, in many aspects, health-depriving industry.

Certainly a genuine answer to my rebutting question could be, “It tastes good.”

I’m a recently reformed meat-eater.  In AA terms, I’m carrying my one-year chip.  There weren’t twelve steps for me - just a one step realization (through a decent amount of research, mind) that the many reasons for a meatless life far outweighed that one glaring reason for a meat-filled one.

As stated, I will be explaining these reasons in greater detail over the coming weeks and hopefully inviting you all on a fact-finding mission (or at least a fact-based opinion-finding mission). 

I’ve explained to many a newly met vegan that I still have to read a daily argument in support of our lifestyle.  When someone like Dave makes available a forum for those arguments, I can only applaud his actions.  It’s also possible that Mr. Faries doesn’t truly believe everything he said.  That the food columnist for a local alternative weekly wouldn’t be best served by pumping up the comment volume with a fiery, debatable topic would be a conclusion not easily ignored. 

But, oh, some of the things he said.  Surely he must believe them if he had the courage to argue them.  “Because ancient humans lived off the hunt as well as the gather, there’s no fundamental wrong in a steak, a rack of lamb, or roasted cuy for that matter.”  That’s another gem from his post.  What it presupposes is that ancient humans’ environment, survival strategies, and ethics are directly related to those of modern man.  What this post presupposes is…maybe they aren’t? 

Basing fundamental rights and wrongs on 200,000 years of history will leave one with a very mixed palette (or should we say palate, as the case might be?).  I prefer that we would base our understanding of fundamental wrongs on all the knowledge gained in that time.  Like irrigation, for example.  It’s pretty ancient in its own right, and at present, it’s a practice used to produce an alternative energy source for humans.  Alternative, that is, to the product of another perfected practice: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

Dave’s remark that, “You can argue the harm caused by large slaughterhouses.  They unnecessarily stress the animals, sometimes create public health issues and pump more than their share of pollution into the environment,” is a statement I can agree with.  His cop-out that, “Of course, that doesn’t prevent a person from finding meat from environmentally friendly free range farms,” however, isn’t the solution I was hoping for. 

“Environmentally friendly free range farms” are better, in theory, than CAFOs in my book.  Then again, the next sentence in my book would be that veganism, in reality, is better still. “Free range” is ambiguous at best - the USDA applies that term to poultry only and their definition states that producers must only allow poultry “access to the outside.”  So, under current regulations, “free range” is stuck in a very gray zone.  The eschewing of meat and animal products is not.  [This is not to say that I’m against truly “free range” farms.  I’m a huge proponent of local farms and even local, family operated, meat producing farms.  They’re not all perfect, but there are good ones out there that care about their processes and products.  Not everyone who considers his/herself a vegan will agree with me on that point, but I’m putting it out there.  Discussion to take place at a later date – promise!]

Fear not, Dave, we still love you.  You give Dallas the opportunity to hear from Veggie Girl Guy and the vegan community a chance at a lively debate.  At least you didn’t argue about carrots’ souls or potatoes’ eyes.  Just kidding Uncle Nancy, I love you too.   

But, of all the people I’d find through researching our local bloggers’ various spotlights on the vegan community, I stumbled upon the most unlikely ally.  I found an extremely religious, conservative, National Review-contributing voice whose opinions and experience in the vegan arena stood out above the rest of the food critics.  Hell, he’s not even a food critic.  But more on him next time….



Jamey said...

Welcome, BC! Oh, and I'm *very* glad I wasn't subjected to that NN post in real-time. What an asinine time-waste.

Eddie G said...

Great to have you onboard, bc!

@Jamey - Totally! I'll have to share my additional thoughts with you in person--you know, to keep our site PG-13 :)