This week, Mark and I watched the movie “The Cove.” It was an incredibly eye-opening documentary about dolphins and what is happening to them in a town in Japan. Every year, from March to September, thousands of dolphins are forced into this particular cove where (with the exception of the few that are sold to aquariums and “sea” parks) they are slaughtered. Not only is it horrifying that they are killed at all, but they are also sold in fish markets for consumption. In some cases the meat is purchased by people who know they will be eating dolphin, but in other instances it is labeled as fish such as Tuna. And if that is not enough, the levels of mercury that are found in dolphin meat is off the charts. It is a tragedy at many levels and for the most part people don’t know or don’t care that it is happening.
When the movie was over, I was all fired up. I wanted to DO something. The thought that followed that passionate feeling was yes, but are you going to do something this time? It was then that I was made ever aware of my own complacency. I’ve watched many of these types of documentaries and it is always followed by that same feeling. Initially, I want to change and make a difference, but rarely do I follow through. I’ve watched movies like “Food Inc.” and “The Future of Food” and inwardly vowed to buy fresh food from the co-op or farmer’s market. Always it is short-lived. Lack of time coupled with mine and my family’s pickyness always seems to get the better of me, despite the frightening realities of the food industry. I have made changes over the years, but there is still so much I know that I choose to ignore because it is simply easier to do so.
Today at church the theme of the service was “the courage to change.” The guest speaker talked about the book “Ask Yourself This” and the various questions it challenges the reader to pose to themselves. Part of the inward interrogation involves taking a look at what we are resisting. For me, complacency is just another way that I avoid rocking the boat. If I just nod my head and smile, I don’t have to face criticism. Complacency is a way that the lazy side of me wins. Assuming that the government and corporations only have my best interest at heart is much easier than taking the extra time, energy, and money to research and buy only the safest products for my family.
I want to step out of the comfort zone that is complacency and do something when I feel drawn to do it. It only takes small steps to make a difference, and I want to take more of those steps. Over the past couple of weeks I have been so inspired by a friend named Jenny (@IHavDefx) that I met through Twitter and this blog. She was touched by the story of a family dealing with childhood cancer and instead of being complacent she decided to do something. She signed up to participate in a charity fund-raising event, tweeted about it, and blogged about it. Within a few weeks, Jenny raised $1500 for the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. She sent me a message the other day telling me that to honor a friend who was diagnosed with MS, she is going to run in a half-marathon that will raise money for research to find a cure. So despite the fact that Jenny tells me I inspire her, she is the one who has become an inspiration to me.
It is time for me to get off my complacent ass…I’ll start by telling everyone to watch The Cove. (If it helps, I just found out it won the academy award for best documentary.) Also, want to link up to Mama Kat’s blog post about The Cove, it’s excellent. Read it here.
Since Mark and I married 11 years ago, we haven’t been huge meat eaters. I’ve served the staple vegetarian meals of spaghetti w/jar sauce and bean burritos for a very long time. About three years ago we saw the movie “Fast Food Nation” (never read the book though) and our attitudes were forever changed as far as beef was concerned. We immediately decided to give up burgers, steaks, and the like. Since Mark has always been anti-pork and doesn’t like fish that much, it left us with just chicken. As time passed we ate less and less chicken. It would be on the menu about twice a week and I’d always nonchalantly say “We don’t eat that much meat, I wish I could just be a vegetarian.” But I grew up, like a lot of people, in a culture where every meal revolved around the meat so it never seemed like a realistic goal.
Then in February of 2008 I was at a birthday party at my neighbor’s house and sat down with a plate of meatballs. Mark arrived late to the party with Callee (b/c she’d been napping) and as he entered I said “Hey, try the meatballs. They’re really good.” He looked at me in utter disbelief. I said “WHAT?” Then instantly answered my own question. Shit! I’d forgotten that I didn’t eat beef. It had been almost a year and I’d had a complete brain fart and eaten red meat! I felt so guilty and a little sick because of it. It was a few weeks later that my click occurred and I became a vegetarian.
I was reading “Divine Guidance: How to Have a Dialogue with God and Your Guardian Angels” by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. and I got to the part where she described how she came to be a vegetarian. She is an intuitive and one day asked for guidance on how to have a clearer “vision.” The guidance she received was that she should remove meat from her diet. The moment I read that I KNEW it was what I had to do also. I didn’t know why, it just made sense at the time. I had been casually, even jokingly, saying it for months and in that moment I decided to do it. That night I prepared our last chicken dinner and I haven’t looked back since. It was February of 08 but I don’t remember the day.
In the beginning people would ask me why I was a vegetarian. I didn’t really know. My standard answer was “all the reasons I guess…health, animals, the environment.” I have since learned more and have some details to add to my whys. I won’t get into them here, but a couple of documentaries (Food Inc. and The Corporation) were very eye-opening in showing the treatment of animals by big companies as well as some of the tricks of the trade that are not only harmful and painful to the animals but to us when we consume them. I also read the book Skinny Bitch, which I highly recommend (if you can handle some pretty R-rated language) for learning more about what is in our food and what the animals have to go through before becoming our food.
Being vegetarian is a choice I’ve made for myself only. My family has the option to eat what they want. Bella is a self-made vegetarian. We learned that the hard way when we once tried to force her to try chicken. Callee eats chicken nuggets and turkey sandwiches whenever she has the opportunity and Mark keeps his chicken intake down to 2 times a month or less.
I don’t believe everyone should be vegetarians. I think our bodies are all different and thus we need different diets to sustain ourselves. I know for me it works and I have never felt healthier in my entire life than I have since I gave up meat. Other people have different reactions though when they try to go veg. I do think it is important to be informed and ask questions about whether or not companies are humanely treating the animals and the employees and also look for products that don’t contain hormones and antibiotics. But other than that, I have no recommendations for what other people should or shouldn’t eat. Do what feels right for your body. The body will let you know and it’s up to you to listen and act!