Scott Wells on Good Food (Food Post II)

Well, it seems like this is the weekend for food posts. I suggest you go over to Boy in the Bands and read Scott Well’s a healthy, sustainable diet (i.e. buying locally, eating good, whole foods). I think I underemphasize this in my wanna-be-veganism. Since a big part of my eating thoughts and practice have to do with the environment and wanting to be more gentle on it, I should point this out more. Buying organic Spinach from California uses a darn lot of gas to get it over here to MA, not to mention the fertilizer trucked in from who-knows-where. Anyway, local is good. Whole food/real food that you actually have to buy and then cook yourself is harder work than veggie rice bowls from Trader Joe’s (ahem, note to self).

There is a chapter about this in The Simple Living Guide (chapter 9 cooking and nutrition), a book which is really great at being reasonable, yet encouraging about living a simpler life. It is one of the few books that makes it seem do-able, rather than just overwhelming.

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5 Responses to Scott Wells on Good Food (Food Post II)

  1. Charlie Talbert says:

    I’m writing here, to your most recent food post, although maybe these comments are more related to your other one this weekend and the thoughtful posts to it.

    I believe most people are animal advocates to some degree.

    A woman in my church has been heartbroken because her neighbor keeps his dog caged outside 24/7, with virtually no contact with humans or other animals. The dog paces neurotically in its cage. She offered to buy him warmer accommodations for the cold winters here. The neighbor told her to mind her own business. A friend of hers even offered to purchase the dog, to give it a better home. Ditto reply to her.

    Regardless of how tactful these women may have been, the dog owner has probably felt judged. Feeling judged is just that – a feeling – and we don’t have control over how other people feel about we say or do.

    I’m pretty sure that slave owners, wife beaters, child pimps, racists, homophobes, dog and cock fight fans, bullfighting aficionados and other supporters of abuse have all felt judged by reformers; even when tradition, culture, and the law supported their practices. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. preached love and understanding for oppressors, but they didn’t hesitate to call the oppression itself wrong. I don’t know that they would have been more effective had they not risked appearing judgmental.

    I’m a Unitarian Universalist who, like many and perhaps most others, agrees with Theodore Parker’s observation that the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Rev. Gary Kowalski writes in his book The Souls of Animals what humanity through science and reflection increasingly realizes: “Animals are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being.”

    Don’t these sentient beings deserve justice too, or is it all just a matter of the personal choice of the human animal?

    Industrial agriculture claims with justification that “it’s only following orders” when the consuming public purchases its products of misery and suffering. So how are we to effectively advocate to those within our spheres of influence who make these purchases? I table, leaflet, hold film screenings, arrange for speakers, organize potlucks, and provide information in other ways that shows how joyful and abundant vegan options can be.

    I also provide information that reveals the suffering endured by the victims trapped in the cages and machinery of factory farms and slaughterhouses. In so doing, I’m sometimes criticized for being judgmental. I don’t think that means I should stop, although I try to adjust and refine my approach with the feedback of others, which is why I appreciate your opinions and those of others who post on the animal-related topics you raise.

  2. elizabeth199 says:

    Thanks so much for reading, Charlie, and for responding so thoughtfully. It is so difficult to find the balance where we are gentle enough so that we can be heard, yet firm enough to be heard on this amazingly important issue. I enjoy so much your responses, and that I know I have at least one blog reader who encourages me to be STRONGER about my position on animal issues and food issues, rather than more gentle and more understanding.

    I wonder, do you think that it is possible to be too strong in advocacy for vegetarianism and animal rights? I imagine you do think that it is possible to go too far, but for me, I constantly struggle with how far that is. Not so much because because there is one right ethical position that is firm enough or strong enough, but in a pragmatic sense – because it seems if we go too far, more people tune out than those who hear and heed the call toward more ethical eating. Do you have a way to determine what is too far or not far/firm enough for you? Thoughts on where this is at for the movement?

  3. Charlie Talbert says:

    I’d just say in reply to your question that how to communicate a balanced message and be an effective advocate for animals is difficult for everyone I know who does it. I try, not always successfully, to follow the advice of Matt Ball, co-founder of Vegan Outreach, in his essay “A Meaningful Life.” http://www.veganoutreach.org/advocacy/meaningfullife.html

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “Remember:

    We don’t want to attack anything or anyone.
    We don’t want to express our rage at how animals are raised and killed.
    We don’t want to show how smart and enlightened we are.
    We don’t want to ‘win an argument with a meat eater.’
    We don’t want to gross out someone so they don’t eat meat at their next meal.”

    “We want people to open their hearts and minds to change. It all simplifies to this:

    Buying meat, eggs, and dairy causes unnecessary suffering.
    We can each choose not to cause this suffering.”

    In my experience, people respond more positively and are more likely to change their eating habits when the case for animals is made at an emotional level, as a plea for mercy. That’s part of the success of the 70-minute documentary “Peaceable Kingdom”, which has been screened at a number of Unitarian Universalist congregations around the USA and Canada. You can read a little bit about it at http://www.tribeofheart.org, although it’s unavailable there now until its revision is completed, which the makers hope will be this fall. The current version is available at many public libraries, though, because this has been a project of Tribe of Heart volunteers.

    “Peaceable Kingdom” was my tipping point to a plant-based diet, as it was my minister’s and her partner’s and several others in my congregation. The ethical treatment of animals has since been touched upon in some of her sermons, and it has been the main subject of at least one. Last fall she co-organized a recipe collection that has been well-received by members and friends of our congregation, who increasingly bring vegan and vegetarian dishes to potlucks. You can see it here http://bradforduu.org/2006cookbook.pdf

    BTW, one of the subjects of “Peaceable Kingdom”, Harold Brown, will speak at a workshop at General Assembly this year. “Food for Thought: Sustainable Agriculture and UU Values” is sponsored by Star Island Religious Education Conference, who coordinated this program with help from Ministry For Earth.

    “Earthlings” narrated by Joaquin Phoenix is another emotionally powerful film. It’s been called a masterpiece by the producer of Animal Planet http://www.isawearthlings.com/

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