Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vegan No More

Vegan No More

I've gone back and forth on being vegan for much of my life. There have been times where I've been omnivorous, times I've been vegetarian, and even hardcore vegan in college (not even leather shoes or belts). Since last fall, I've worked on being more vegan, though it's been hit or miss, especially when we've done restaurant reviews for 50 States Of Wine

Being vegetarian and/or vegan has always been inspired my manyfold issues: healthier eating, environmental concerns, animal cruelty, and maybe some leftover punk politicalness (against the status quo). Eating vegan can definitely be an answer to all those things, but only if it's done with thoughtfulness and care. I wasn't doing that.

I recently read two books way beyond my comfort zone, Brandon Baltzley's Nine Lives and Berlin Reed's Ethical Butcher, and they got me thinking about my approach to food in a very different life.

One of the things that has always bothered me about eating meat is that an animal has to die so that can happen; I just didn't like that. However, I'm happy to squash a mosquito or kill other bugs who happen to be bothersome in some way, so how do those two mindsets gibe? They don't. And really, is it any healthier to eat a processed veggie burger rather than one from a cow? GMO soybeans are taking over our world and, while I will never condone cheap, feedlot beef, it's certainly easier to defend a healthy, humanely raised grass-fed cow over processed anything.

Am I going to run out and eat a bunch of meat now? Probably not, but I'm not taking it off the table anymore either. Baltzley is opening a farmhouse restaurant, TMIP Restaurant, in Michigan City, IN. The idea is that, apart from beef (which will be raised by their neighbors), all the food in the restaurant will be grown on the very farm it sits on. That is taking locavore to the logical extreme. 

Locavorism is becoming more and more important to me, maybe because we have so little of it where we live. Depending on how you define it (25 miles, 100 miles?), we could probably become true locavores, excepting coffee and spices that don't grow anywhere near us. The area known as Harbor Country (Northern Indiana/Southwest Michigan) is an area we frequent, and there are strong connections growing there between the winemakers, chefs, growers, and public -- it's probably the reason I've been impacted by this so much.

So I'm vegan no more, not that I was really in recent times. Not sure where this is leading me, but I know that locavorism will play a bigger role for me, as will getting rid of processed foods. Eating less and in a balanced manner will be goals as well. I also want to expose my kids to more of where there food comes from; visits to cheesemakers, butchers, and farms will show them how their food is connected to the land and that, contrary to some peoples' belief, it doesn't come from a box in the store.

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