I have recently had to remodel my eating habits. After moving to Saskatchewan, a province who takes pride in their beef being a vegetarian has given me a few road blocks.
I was not always a vegetarian. I grew up in a meat eating family. Every day was a BBQ day in the summers of my childhood. But I never enjoyed red meat as much as most. A slight bit of blood on my plate, and I was an unhappy kid. I was always unhappy with where my food was coming from.
The first book I even learned to read on my own was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, written by Eric Carle in 1967. It’s a story of a brown bear that saw many animals. I never understood how we could eat any of the cute fuzzy animals in this book.
When you are younger though, you just do what your parents tell you is best for you. So I sat through constant fights of getting my mother to overly cook my bloody rare steak in the microwave.
“Not enough,” I would say. “I still see some blood.”
Luckily I had a patient mother who did this every time, without getting overly angry.
I gave up the majority of red meats at an early age, with the exception of bacon. I didn’t kick that habit until my late high school years.
Moving out for college was the big decider that living on my own would make it fairly easy to eliminate these last meat temptations from my diet.
It was easier than I thought. I had no issues staying healthy on a diet that contained protein from other places, such as soy products, tofu products and nuts. In fact, for once in my life I was finally gaining some weight. I looked healthier, and felt healthier. Vegetarianism had in fact made my diet more unique and varied. It encouraged me to try new things, and made me evaluate my food groups more closely. My iron levels were higher than ever, according to doctors.
I made the choice to eliminate products containing gelatin in them, and any meat related broths, only two years ago. It amazed me what the strange unneeded ingredients were in the majority of the things we eat. Sure, I miss roasting those marshmallows on the campfire all summer, but I soon found a replacement product for that as well.
Moving to Saskatchewan, I was excited for the cows, not because of the prime quality beef the province is known for, but for the chance to finally observe the fascinating creatures that had become my favorite animal after constant years of research on being a vegetarian..
Some vegetarians and vegans, will try to preach a meat free life to anyone they talk to. That is not what I am trying to do. I don’t have anything against farmers who kill their own food, or hunters that shoot over populated animals, and humanely remove the contents. I have great admiration for the aboriginals who teach their children at a young age where their food comes from, never wasting any part of the animal.
I’m also not going to push my view of animals and their feelings on you. Sure I have many reasons as to why I am a vegetarian, I could list you a 100. But in my mind this isn’t the root of the major problem.
Mass production is the problem in my eyes. People not caring what they are eating, or having zero knowledge of what’s in their food, bothers me. The pollution that comes from meat plants is one of the largest causes of pollution in the world. The animals that get sold at supermarkets often grew up in a tiny pen, unable to even completely turn around. They sometimes stood in their own manure, knee deep for weeks at a time. Many slaughtering plants kill animals inhumanely and there have been some cases where they watch them suffer, just because it is cheaper.
What I really want to get through to people is buying local is often your best option. Buying straight from the farmer that raised your meat, this person knows where the food has been. This animal most likely lived a more liberated life, and was able to eat natural products, instead of a 100% corn diet that is often used in factory farms.
I’m a big city girl. Moving from Montreal, I never had the luxury of growing up this close to local eggs, beef or milk. I simply can’t understand why anyone would risk their health with the animals coming from other places, when this province apparently has one of the best quality beefs right at home.
Do some research! You will be happy you did.