25 June 2006

Random Thoughts on Sunday Morning

We went out to dinner last night with a rag tag group of friends. By this I mean that it was a bunch of friends that one wouldn't always picture being together. It was a group that came together sort of at the last minute. We went to our local Indian buffet where the head waiter and waitress know us and love to give us cooking tips. They also bring us baskets of piping hot naan so that we don't have to rely on the stale naan in the buffet line. Everytime we go there we get a lesson in Indian culture and cooking.

For some reason the conversation drifted at one point to vegetarian eating. I recalled what had to be the very funniest thing I'd ever read about some vegetarians. It was in an article I read some years back (maybe 4) about raw cooking. The term alone is an oxymoron, but I'll leave it there. In any case, the article focused on a particular restaurant in California which specialized in raw cookery. This restaurant also refused to use honey as a sweetner. This was considered odd in vegan circles because honey is a raw sweetner. However, this chef would not use honey because s/he believed that use of honey promoted, condoned, and continued the oppression of bees. S/He did not want to have any part in the ongoing trade in bee slavery. I have to say that the term raised all sorts of pictures in my mind of tiny bees rising up and yelling in tiny bee voices, "Help, help I'm being oppressed." I wondered what sort of chains were used for bees? How does one whip a bee? How exactly does one keep a bee under oppression? Slavery, you see, implies that a creature is being forced to do something for which it was not intended by someone larger and more powerful. However, bees will make honey no matter what humans do or don't do. I expect they might cease if we somehow managed to remove all the flowers from their territory.

I am the last person to suggest that creatures be used inhumanely. But I have a problem with all of the folks who protest against hunters. I wonder if the protesters have seen what happens when a deer population goes unchecked by hunting. The weak and young die cruel deaths by starvation and water depravation during the winter months. Which is worse, a quick shot or a long drawn out starvation? I do not condone hunting for the rack, that is killing for the antlers and leaving the corpse to rot, but using the whole deer for meat is not such a horrible way to control the herd.

The same goes for eggs and chickens or milk and cows. Chickens will lay eggs. It's what they do. Anyone who thinks that milking a cow is cruel has never attended milking time at a farm. The cows are desperate to relieve themselves.

Let's imagine for a moment what might happen if we were to all become vegans. What would happen to all those eggs? They'd all become chickens. They would produce more chickens. Have you been to a chicken coop? Even a small one in the summer time? Peee-uuuuuu. It stinketh greatly and cannot be abided.

On the other hand, I hate condoning the industrial farming methods that have become deriguer on most corporate farms. They are inhumane and treat animals as if they are mechanical products. In the end, I believe, they mistreat the people those animals feed. I wonder if it is really the farming methods that many vegans are opposed to and not the food itself? As in so many areas, we have taken this to such an extreme that I wonder if we'll ever be able to see our way back to balance again?


Blogger Scott said...

I've never thought of those that raise bees for honey as being akin to slavers. Not being a bee I can't relate. Doubt the bees know any different either though. It is an interesting belief. From what I've read and heard of beekeepers they highly respect and value the bees and do everything they can to protect them. I don't mean this from a financial aspect though obviously that's true but from a more widespread aspect. Protecting native bees from predators, mites, africanized honey-bees etc. is quite important. We are harvesting what is theirs though so I can see how that persone felt that by controling the population and taking the honey was like slavery.

As to the chickens. Chickens don't have to stink. The poulty industry keeps its birds in filth for profit and it yields an unhealthy and filthy product usually. You can raise chickens in a clean and healthy environment. They make lovely pets too. I had chickens once, they were free range and didn't stink at all. Can't beat the taste of their eggs either.

6/26/2006 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Good thoughts. Thanks for clarity on these issues.

6/26/2006 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gallycat said...

hi! stopped in from the revgalblogpals ring, and we're neighbors. mike croghan is also a friend of mine, and he speaks highly of mars hill..

I'm not a vegetarian, but I was once. Fell into the category of "vegetarian who missed meat so much she'd sneak it on the sly." wasn't particularly healthy. But I agree with you--there should be balance and I often feel caught between the extremes. Three extremes, the third being "who cares as long as it tastes good?" It's hard. But this is one of those places where mindfulness brings you to a center, I think. I hope. Seems to, anyhow.

At any rate, welcome!

6/27/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

I like your thoughts, had a conversation similar to this yesterday, we concluded that balance is indeed the key.

One issue though is how often are we willing to pay a little more for well farmed meat, rather than industrialised animal units...
free range and organic meat is so much more expensive in the UK, but worth it.

Good to visit you blog- poped in from Rev Gals.

6/27/2006 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Welcome from another RevGal.

I am an occasional vegetarian;-)...to wit, I try to eat low on the food chain as much as possible, both for health reasons (I need to watch the cholesterol, and eating vegan for two meals a day assists in that)and because it's a way to live a little more lightly on the earth, and to identify with the majority of the world's citizens for whom meat is an occasional treat, not the centerpiece of every meal. I am fortunate in that I have access -- through my food coop and through people I know in the community -- to meat, eggs and produce right from the farmer; so I know what I'm getting, and how it was grown. I encourage anyone in the vicinity of family farmers to seek out food products from these folks. There are also farmers who practice CSA -- community supported agriculture -- a process in which consumers invest in the farm by paying an annual fee, and then are entitled to the farm's products throughout the growing season. It's a win-win in that the investor shares the farmer's risk (in other words, in a bad growing year you're not going to wind up with a bulging grocery bag of goodies each week), while enjoying fresh and usually organic seasonal food right from the source. The USDA and state agricultural offices can provide info on CSA farms in one's state.

A good book that discusses the spirituality both of food production and of how we as individuals and households choose to purchase, prepare and eat our food is Food For Life by Shannon Jung (Augsburg Fortress); a very good read.

Welcome to the RevGals!

6/27/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Beth said...

Welcome to RGBP! Great thoughts.

I'm at a point where I almost never choose meat for myself. I do live with two large men, one 17 and growing, who consider meat a necessity. But often I leave it out of my own meal altogether. My body doesn't seem to want or like it...and my body gets smarter all the time! Hopefully the rest of me too...

I live in a great small city but it is sadly lacking: no Indian restaurant. Several Thai, Korean, Lebanese...still, I miss naan so much!

6/27/2006 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger see-through faith said...

loved the pic of the bees..

Anyone who thinks that milking a cow is cruel has never attended milking time at a farm. made me think. You see the cruel bit might well be taking the calf away but continuing to milk the mum - for milk for us. Not that that stops me using dairy - but just a thought.

welcome to rev gals

6/27/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Wow ... thanks for the rousing welcome to the RevGals Circle!! I'm honored. Thanks too, to everyone for all the great additional thoughts. I do indeed belong to a CSA this year (community sponsored agriculture farm). I'm on the lookout for access to free range meat and eggs, primarily because the manner in which the animals are treated is more humane, but also because the end-product is so much more healthy for my family. All of that said, tho, it is only because we now have a little more money that I can afford all of this. When LightHusband was a Staff Sergeant in the Army these were just pipe dreams and we shopped in bulk and on sale. I loved the comment about vegetarianism in communion with the 2/3's of the world who cannot afford meat. That resonated with me and gave me much to think about.

6/27/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Welcome to the RevGals! Good post, too. I've been thinking a lot about food lately, too...especially the expense of eating food that is healthy for us, for the creatures that provide it, and for the earth. For me, it's a question of whether I'd rather pay the financial expense or the greater, long-term-damage expense. But for many people, the financial expense of such food isn't even an option. I'm pondering things my church and community can do to help bridge that gap, but it's not an easy question.

Anyway, welcome. And, I have found poultry in any indoor space to be extremely malodorous - but I guess it's a matter of perspective!

6/27/2006 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

hey there and...well..another welcome!
I am vegetarian and sometimes lean toward vegan (though cheese stops me every time!). I think you have great thoughts on this--especially since you qualify it all with a note about factory farming. For me, that's where the real problem is. No, it's not cruel to milk a cow, but it is cruel to take away the calf and then milk the cow as long as she'll give milk (longer than the calf would drink it)...and make sure she's calving again by the time she stops lactating. Most dairy cows spend all of their significantly-shortened lives pregnant. And with chickens, well, a quick visit to a why-vegan? type website will show you that "free range" or "cage free" doesn't mean what it says and there's no regulation about that.
Also, I don't want to be a downer, but I do want to say that if we didn't purposely keep the population of these animals at an unsustainable level, we would not be overrun with chickens if we didn't eat eggs. And if there were natural predators for deer, the herd wouldn't be out of control. So basically what we need to figure out is how to live safely and eat healthily without completely damaging what was clearly a viable system before we invented barns.
if you do decide to check out veggie cooking, try www.vrg.org and veganlunchbox.blogspot.com. Both very excellent with the recipes and tips!

6/28/2006 03:56:00 AM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

So basically what we need to figure out is how to live safely and eat healthily without completely damaging what was clearly a viable system before we invented barns.

Teri, I agree with you here. You've said very clearly what I was stumbling around trying to say. I have actually experimented with vegetarianism at various times throughout my life, but I love meat too much to give it up entirely ;-). This why I like the idea of being vegetarian for a couple of meals a day or the week.

Thanks for the welcome ... I'm looking forward to reading everyone's blogs and being part of a women's network!!

6/28/2006 07:03:00 AM  

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