Jerseygator's Blog


Moving toward meatless

Posted in Cooking,food politics,locavore,vegetarian by jerseygator on January 26, 2011
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Over the past few years we have had occasion to learn more about the food production in this country.  Some of the education is through national multi-media; books such as “The Omnivore’s Dilemna,” movies such as “Food, Inc.,” radio podcasts such as “Earth Eats,” and, of course, countless websites, such as the Ted talks.  Moving to New Jersey was also an education.  The farms, road stands, and overall food culture here in South Jersey is amazing.  Farmers are so willing to share what they’re doing (and how they’re doing it), as well as the struggles they have in providing good products.  It’s still difficult to find organic products at many of the road stands (though not impossible), but at least we’re eating a large portion of our food sourced locally.

With this education, however, comes a moral dilemna.  Can one continue to consume a product which doesn’t align with one’s own moral compass?  Obviously, many people do.  No one I know condones animal cruelty, yet most buy meat from the supermarket without a second thought, pushing the factory farm that the meat came from out of their minds.  Becoming a vegetarian is an option, but an option not chosen by many.  Being an omnivore is culturally excepted, and most people like the taste of meat.  There are still some who argue that we aren’t designed to be herbivores, an argument I consider specious.  We aren’t “designed” to use birth control, either, but I don’t see many people arguing against condoms, the pill, or the rhythm method.

So what is a conscientious person to do?  In my explorations I find too many people who try to convince their audience to their viewpoint using emotion.  Not being an overly emotional person, I just find that annoying.  Give me facts, figures, and, most importantly, a grounding in reality…the reality of raising a family and the time constraints, budgets and personalities that come with it.

As we struggle with it, here’s some of the decisions that I or we as a family have made:

  • Conscientious meat consumption.  We don’t want to support the CAFO’s so we are buying our beef, pork, lamb and goat from a local farmer.  We found her on eatwild.com, and are comfortable that she is raising the animals to have normal lives: pasture, sunlight, grass, antibiotics only if ill, access to mother/baby relationship.  Currently, we are getting chicken at the farmer’s market.  Free range, cage free chickens are EXPENSIVE, so chicken has become a much less consumed item.  (Full disclosure: occasionally Darrol will buy chicken from the supermarket, usually for stock, but is minimizing these purchases.  The chicken industry is truly horrible.)
  • Eggs are purchased from a local farmer.  We can actually see the chickens running around, eating bugs and vegetable scraps.  The eggs are amazing: firm orange yolks and wonderful flavor.  Again, the poultry industry is one of the worst offenders for animal husbandry standards.
  • Using the whole animal.  We recently had an “offal party” for our friends.  The menu included liver & onions, heart and veg stew, steak and kidney pie, and tongue tacos.  It seems more respectful to consume the entire animal if you’re going to make that choice.  I’ll be blogging about the party soon.
  • Moving toward meatless:  Although I doubt my husband or son will ever become vegetarians, I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually went in that direction.  Currently I’m following Mark Bittman’s advice: vegan before 6pm.  I’ve replaced butter with EarthBalance (made with cold pressed oils, not hydrogentated) and milk with almond milk.  I started this because my LDL cholesterol moved up enough for my doctor to prescribe a low dose of a statin, and I’d really like to move away from taking medication.  I’ll blog about these food decisions as well.  (Funny, I found very few blogs via Google about moving toward meatless…most are already vegetarians or are make the move abruptly).
  • Continuing education:  I’ll continue reading and viewing food related media, keeping an open mind.
  • Political activism:  I’m not the type to stand on the roadway with a sandwich board, but I have been known to contact my senators and/or state representatives, so I’ll continue to do that on things that are important to me.  As with voting, if you don’t participate, you really don’t have the right to bitch.

I’d be interested to hear how others handle their choices.  Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.

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3 Responses to 'Moving toward meatless'

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  1. Kelley said,

    Even though we’ve chatted about this, I’m posting hear to be a part of the discussion.

    I went veg about 5 or 6 years ago… the exact date is hard to determine because I did so fairly gradually and for many of the same reasons you’ve cited. When asked why, I often give my reason as “The 3 E’s”: environment, economic and ethics.

    I never enjoyed preparing and eating meat, even as a child, for taste and ethical reasons, so it was easier for me to give up the meat. I don’t miss it at all. I don’t try to recreate meat dishes, like meatloaf or fried chicken. I choose to eat foods close to their original state, buy local whenever possible, and opt for organic when affordable. I eat far fewer processed foods and rarely eat out- except for coffee!- than I used to and than many others, probably. I am never hungry and I haven’t had any negative health consequences.

    I can completely envision the rest of my life spent in a blissful state of vegetarianism!

    • jerseygator said,

      Thanks, Kelly. I wasn’t interested in recreating meat dishes either, but in order to please the palettes of the rest of the family I am experimenting with some products, like Gardein. I like that companies ideas and goals. I’ll let you know how that goes. I know you have omnivorous kids…how did you handle that when they were younger? I’m assuming they cook it themselves if they want meat now.

      • Kelley said,

        At first I did use faux meat products but gradually transitioned towards other protein sources. All my kids are good eaters: they like vegetables and trying new things. That made the transition easier. Over time, they have adjusted to what I cook for them. They do eat meat when they visit their dad and when eating out. And yes, the older kids do occasionally cook meat for themselves at my house.

        I still eat eggs, mainly for health reasons, but they are local from a chicken enthusiast I know personally.


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