Some Knowledge about being Vegetarian
By: Cathy McCabe
Choosing the right foods may be more complicated than you think. The Sustainability Committee declared January food month. The objective of getting students thinking about their food choices, with events like the Veggie Challenge, which asked students to refrain from eating meat for one week. Before this month comes to a close, I would like to do the same. As someone who has been critically examining her own food choices for many years, I find this topic has endless facets to explore.
I am biased because I have been a vegetarian for almost nine years. My original decision to do that had nothing to do with my health or the fear of global warming. I became one simply because I loved animals. I felt my life was a contradiction because I wanted to devote my life to protecting animals, but, at the same time, I was eating them. I am not suggesting that everyone needs to be vegetarian in order to look critically at his or her food choices; I am saying it’s what I needed.
After becoming a vegetarian, I began reading about factory farms: the unethical treatment of animals and the impact on the environment. For anyone considering making changes to their diet whatever the reason, here is a list of books I have read and found helpful.
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a good introduction to the animal husbandry industry. It is about the author’s personal quest to understand the industry. He explains how factory farming began and how it developed.
- Foer interviews animal activists, but also factory farm supporters and owners of family farms, in order to give a balanced account of the industry.
- The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights by Ingrid Newkirk is a detailed guide that looks at the treatment of animals in today’s society. It gives a detailed account of the cruelty that takes place in factory farms, fish farms and fur farms. It also looks at humans’ use of animals as companions, as well as looking at animal testing and dissection. It questions why humans feel they have the authority to treat animals as products rather than sentient beings.
- Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall with Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson is about how the western world’s current lifestyle is destroying the environment. She explains genetically modified foods and how we are unaware of the impact this can have on the future. She also looks at the damaging effects of factory farming. Goodall says that today’s society have forgotten lessons from the past about farming and working with nature rather than working against it. She calls on her readers to take simple steps like buying from farmers’ markets, in order to create a sustainable world.
- The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone is an excellent book for those who want to begin a vegetarian or vegan diet. She gives suggestions for those flirting with the idea of vegetarianism and for those who wish to become what she calls “superheroes” (someone who eats locally grown foods that are in season and someone who avoids processed foods). Half of this book is vegan recipes and suggested meal plans. She explains how to get the nutrients you need while living on a plant-based diet. She uses the original definition of diet, “a way of living, of thinking, a day’s journey”, rather than the modern idea of dieting, which involves deprivation.