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And here we go again. August 10, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I just read a blog post about a farmer and passionate locavore (someone who promotes local, regional, in-season foods). So far, so good, right? But then the guy started attacking vegans for being self-righteous. He pointed out that it takes a lot more fertilizer to grow vegetables than, say, cattle.

Well, of course it does, if you raise your cattle on grass. You put your fields into pasture and let your cattle out in them to wander and graze. The cattle enjoy being out under the blue sky and they enjoy grazing, as they evolved to do, and on the plus side, they give back to the fields as they go along with all-natural fertilizer. As long as you don’t put more cattle on the fields than the ecosystem can support, you have a balanced system, at least until the grass dies back in late autumn. Then it’s time to butcher the cattle or feed them on grain or silage until the following spring. 

By contrast, if you’re an organic gardener, as our friend Ben and I are, you don’t really focus on growing plants. You focus on growing soil. The fruits and vegetables you raise are a bonus that you get for creating rich, balanced, wonderful soil. You compost your table scraps, you have an earthworm composter, you’re constantly thinking of ways to enrich and improve the soil in your garden beds. You scour the neighborhood for bags of grass clippings in spring and summer and leaves in fall. You beg your neighbors for their clippings and scraps; you ask your local grocery what they do with their spoiled produce. You shred paper not to conceal your personal data but to feed your worm composter and compost bins. 

Yes, this is certainly more work than letting a field go to grass. But that’s not the point. Vegetarians and vegans aren’t trying to save work by not eating meat. They’re trying to save the world by not eating meat. They’re trying to point out that killing our fellow creatures also kills us, because it deadens us to the deaths of others. They’re trying to say that becoming sensitized to what we put in our mouths might make us more compassionate to all life, to each other. It might keep us from starting and perpetuating wars.

There are plenty of other ways to try to save the world, and people who choose to eat meat can do a world of good by taking those paths. I don’t think it’s appropriate or kind to condemn anyone based on their dietary choices. You may eat meat, but teach in a prison. You may eat meat, but visit the dying in hospitals and hospices. You may eat meat, but volunteer at an animal shelter or drive for Meals on Wheels or donate time and money to Habitat for Humanity or the Peace Corps. Who am I to judge you?!

But please, who are you to judge me? Please stop attacking me because I’m a vegan who can’t bear the thought of killing animals just to feed myself when I don’t have to. Let me live with my choice in peace, as I let you live with yours. Let me fertilize my garden, and grow my vegetables, and eat them without being attacked for doing what I see as right. Stop trying to justify your meat-eating by attacking me for not eating meat. If you want to eat meat, eat it. If I refuse to eat meat, so be it. There’s plenty of room in this world for us to coexist.

                 ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

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Comments»

1. narf77 - August 10, 2012

The production of meat for consumption has a huge carbon footprint. Most of the grain that is grown on earth is for animal consumption. The amount of water used in the chain of command is incredible. The waste produced is phenomenal…add to that the transport costs to take the animal from its residence to the place of slaughter and back again, then to the middle man who sells it and you start adding up what sort of carbon footprint the production of meat leaves us paying whether we eat meat or not. It’s not the vegans who are chopping down the rainforests to make room for more cows grazing to feed the corporate machine and whether you are a large scale producer or a small backyard farmer you are still using many more resources to gain your pound of flesh (forgive the pun) than someone growing organic vegetables. The need to justify is usually closely followed by finger pointing and name calling. Veganism and vegetarianism must be growing and threatening this mans livelihood to have had him respond like that…or he is an ignoramus…I will let you make up your mind as to which camp he sits ;)

I’m always shocked by how aggressively people attack vegetarianism and veganism, Fran. No doubt there are some self-righteous vegans out there who run around attacking meat-eaters, and that would make anyone aggressive. But I’ve never seen or heard of anyone doing such a thing, so it puzzles me every time I’m confronted by this reaction, whether it’s from this farmer or Anthony Bourdain or the woman who wrote The Vegetarian Myth. As the Icelandic saga says, to each his own way of earning fame!

2. silver price - August 11, 2012

So, Americans eat meat because they can afford it. But if you take a closer look at the figures, you’ll notice that Americans eat more meat than people in other rich countries, too.


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