Monday, December 20, 2010

bye baby bunting

Daddy's going hunting.

Well, at least, that's the plan at some point in the future. My brother-in-law (also Ben) and I were talking last night about meat (and my vegetarianity) and we totally see eye-to-eye, but he still eats meat and I don't. And I explained, rather obviously to him probably, that I didn't mind so much about the animal lives lost to produce meat, but that I did mind a) about their treatment and health and b) about the environment.

I have eaten chicken a couple times since the fall, and turkey twice, and it was because they were local, "organic" (greenwashed and impotent though that word has become, I do still believe that choosing it is a loud way to vote with my money), and free range. In at least of two of those cases, we in fact know the producer personally.

I still miss meat. Beef most of all. But that's the one thing I can't find a way to justify; even when beef is well-treated and grass-fed and all of that other good stuff, it still produces methane, and lots of it.

Now I know that this is not a particularly balanced approach - my wife called it "boycotting" meat, which I think is an apt label. I'm not eating meat, basically, because too many other people are. I could be more balanced about it, and frankly anyone who knows me knows that I will likely be a meat eater again one day (by virtue of my fickleness), but I think I do better, in some ways, as a fervent fundamentalist than a laid-back liberal. It's easier.

I started re-listening to the CBC's excellent series Have Your Meat and Eat It Too enjoying the re-affirmations of the conclusions I've drawn, and feeling good again about being a vegetarian. In the third episode, though, are some of the most compelling interviews, with people like Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan
...and the gist of what they say is twofold:
  1. in nature, ecosystems are dependent on animals: without animals, farms need chemical fertilizers to enrich the soil
  2. governments support the current meat production system by subsidizing corn and soy, which are fed to animals.
In other words, it may be possible to eat meat - and maybe actually help small ecosystems thrive - if we look to smaller producers who have created closed systems within which animals play a crucial role.

Back to hunting, then: my thinking is that those are animals which have led as natural a life as they can have had (making "free range" and "organic" look pretty ridiculous), and that becoming part of the food chain again - in a direct way - I am probably doing much less damage, both to ecosystems and to the global environment, than buying produced meat, regardless of the source. In fact, if it was part of a cull, I might even be contributing to an ecosystem by keeping it in balance.

[addendum: apparently they've discovered that curry spices reduce methane in ruminants! so curried beef is better for the environment...?