It’s meat free Monday at my child’s school. The school menu was designed (at great expense) by a company that has designed a very health conscious menu. To be fair the menu if usually good. She usually has the choice of two pasta dishes and has recently started to ask for me to send her in with a packed lunch on this day.
Vegetarians usually present their argument along two main lines; Health and Morality. It is well beyond the scope of this article to deal with the wealth of information which essentially de-bunks the vegetarian health claims. The studies and books disintegrate on even mild inspection while the rapid deficiencies that come from a vegetarian diet are established biological fact. Most worryingly is the “brain shrinkage” associate with vegetarians and vegan diets especially in the context of a diet fed to a child.While the individual may exist on a carefully selected vegetarian diet it is an unusual person who does so successfully, long term.
I will assume dear reader that you would like to do more than just exist. Would you like perhaps to live? Thrive?
Now for an argument you won’t often hear:
I eat and fed my children meat out of a deeply held moral conviction. Omnivory is a position I have reasoned myself into. A visceral and experiential examination of what it means to consume other lifeforms.
The standard “ethical vegetarianism”is not a moral position it is a puritanical position. It requires no great effort especially in a country as accommodating as the UK. No special actions need be undertaken to acquire a moral virtue and allow for a condemnatory attitude for those who are ambivalent towards, or actually oppose, the position.
Of course I abhor factory farming. (As an aside most of the images used by animal rights groups do not come from British farms were welfare standards are very high) but instead of taking the dubious “high ground”of puritanism I pursued the virtuous path of researching farming methods, seeking out local farms and visiting them, securing food from small producers and hunting my own food.
There are many small to medium farms which make a great proportion of their sales from their own shops. Farmers are usually very happy to show you their facilities, if they are not don’t shop there.
Supermarkets are only too happy to discuss their welfare practices, concern of chickens and recently pork has lead to free range animals being widely sold. Butchers are often great sources of information on farmers, and to survive the supermarket can only use meat from good sources. Butchers are also a good way of getting wild hunted food.
I hunted, then reared and slaughtered my own food, I took course in game butchery and learned animal management volunteering in local farms. I actually participated.
To acquire moral virtue means actually doing something, I concede my approach was beyond the ability of some and the desire of most. Researching and being prepared to pay more for one’s food and perhaps travel to get it is a more virtuous position.
No online petitions, no “like and share” or hash tag activism, to eat with moral virtue I had to change myself, adopt new ways, learn and research and encourage others to change too. I actually had to become a better person, not pretend to be.