Over the past few years I’ve noticed more and more people thinking about the food they eat. I think I’ve seen more people convert to veganism over the past year than in the previous 32 years of my life. Of all the different kinds of eaters (meat, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, etc) vegan’s, to me, seem to be the most preachy. After eating meat and dairy for their entire lives, they discover this new fad diet. Immediately it becomes the only way to live and anyone who is disgusting enough to eat meat or – gasp – dairy should burn in hell for eternity. To me, this is a very privileged position to hold. I have spent the past two weeks shopping for only vegan foodstuffs and despite eating the same amount as always, my food bill almost doubled. This should ring the conspiracy bells for anyone who thinks like me.
For the most part, I try to limit my intake of meat because too much of it makes me feel sluggish. I have never been a fan of milk, and cheese has been hurting my stomach more and more, so I try my hardest not to eat it. Besides that, when choosing what to buy, I consider many things before I ask the question, “did it come from an animal?”
I make most of my decisions based on the question, “what would happen if I woke up tomorrow and there was no more oil?” Eventually food would stop magically appearing in the grocery store and our options would be severely limited. I don’t see how being a vegetarian or vegan would be of any advantage in this situation. The vegan cheese that’s shipped from 500 miles away or the nuts from New Mexico would never again be available. What would: Eating what grows in your area and oftentimes that will include meat. To me, it is much more sustainable to have a hamburger from a humanly treated cow at the farm down the street than it is to have a meatless patty that was made in a factory, shipped thousands of miles to be packaged, and then shipped hundreds of more miles to get on your shelves.
I agree that the world would be a better place if everyone was vegan. There would be less animal cruelty, fewer crops would be replaced with corn, and many obese people would shrink down to normal size. I think people who are conscience about what they put in their body are making the right decision, vegan or not. I just believe that, if we are acting not just for now but also for the future, that local is much more important.
What would it mean to only eat local? It would mean that a lot of your favorite foods would be available a lot less often, and some not at all. It would also mean the strengthening of local business, of relationships, and a lot less incidents like this large recall. One plant in New Mexico was found to have salmonella, therefore the majority of peanut butter eaters in the US will either have to give up peanut butter for a bit or risk getting sick. This is because all the peanut butter sold by Trader Joe’s, Costco, and a number of other big box stores are supplied by that same New Mexico distributor. If everyone either didn’t eat peanut butter or got their peanut butter local, this would affect such a small amount of people that it wouldn’t be front page news. Most of us could continue shopping as usual.
The chance of a salmonella outbreak in a local economy is exponentially less as well because the peanut butter company (to stick with the same example) wouldn’t be facing the same needs of constant growth, which cause them to overlook some safety issues resulting in outbreaks. If the peanut farmer had relationships with all of her customers, or even just to the local stores she sold to, she would probably be a lot less inclined to take these short cuts.
I keep going back to the need for getting to know our neighbors. If we’re speaking of revolution, then knowing the people on your block is so much more important for the future of the earth and person kind than whether you can afford to be vegan or not.