Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hypocrisy, Double Standards and Coming Clean

I think this will be the last on my eating choices for now. But I've thought that each time I've written something about Safran Foer. I guess that's the sign of a good book- it sticks with you. And blogging is for me- it's so nice to know that themacinator has dear readers, but, dear readers, this blog is for me. Ouch! Bam, boom! Piff! Poof! It's to process. And as I spilled all yesterday about the pain and suffering, and how those things were secondary to me, (I realized I forgot a large dog/factory farmed animal connection), I felt like a self-righteous jerk.

I eat cheese and milk things with eggs in them. I don't eat eggs straight, because I just don't like eggs. But I eat all kinds of processed foods without reading the labels, and I seek out dairy products. And as much as I was moved by "Eating Animals," the stubborn American in me says "So WHAT!? It's all about freedom, my freedom, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Human happiness." And I'm going to be honest, I see that stubborn flag-waving voice winning out over the "right" voice in my previous two posts for now. Because I love cheese. I'm drooling over my lunch at Gordo's in a few hours already. The tortillas are probably going to be dipped in lard, and I have a don't-ask-don't-tell policy about Mexican food- I can't live without it, and if it means minimal meat goes into my body, (i.e. if I can't see it, it's not there,) that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

How does that fit with my previous posts? It doesn't, at least where the pain of the animals and the environmental damage comes in. It does when you consider Safran Foer's eating as storytelling, eating as ritual, and just the importance of food. That doesn't mean eating can't and shouldn't be rethought, but that I'm not there yet.

The second half of this is Mac. He eats meat, all day, every day. He eats a modified BARF diet- Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, depending who you ask. He eats mostly poultry these days when he eats whole bones, because he's old, has soft teeth, and has already had two of his chompers pulled. So chicken feet, chicken backs, duck wings. We've recently found a company that makes great ground mixes, so there's beef and green tripe back in his diet. He loves fish. LOVES fish. Actually, I'm lying- Mac loves any animal product. And I'm going to continue to feed Mac animal products. I'm not going to feed him a vegan diet because I believe it's inappropriate for dogs, and I'm not going to feed him kibble because a) he did terribly on it and b) because I think it's terrible for dogs with all the crap in it and c) it's probably one of the worse things for the environment out there.

I used to say (maybe until last week?) that it's all about moderation. I still say it's all about moderation, and that I don't really care what other people do, eat, drink, etc, because we have to make personal choices. I wrote about this in the very relevant discussion of why I voted against Prop 2. So I have always justified feeding Mac meat for the last 7 years (well, besides the above reasons), that his minuscule about of meat is a moderate amount that doesn't make a dent, especially if I consider my sources carefully. Sort of the flip side of what I would say to people about why I was a vegetarian: It's all about moderation. If everyone ate meat in moderation, maybe I would, too. (I probably wouldn't at this point, because it doesn't appeal to me taste-wise, but it intellectually, it sounds good.) But honestly, I don't always consider my sources carefully. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I pick up a tasty morsel of full fish at the Mexican supermarket that I know Mac loves. It comes in a shitload of packaging, which should be the first tip off. Now I know how many animals got thrown overboard to make Mac a cheap pound of fish- two meals for Mac. Sometimes I check where the companies I buy from get their animals, usually I buy by convenience- filling a freezer full of Mac-appropriate foods is a pain.

Yesterday I wrote about being human, and how much suffering I felt was appropriate to inflict and still call myself human. I don't want to hurt anything. But part of being human is erring. And downright fucking up. And making choices that don't add up. And doing things out of convenience. And feeding your loved ones the things they love to eat. Even if your loved ones are dogs. Even if your loved ones like to eat things that aren't good for the Earth. I don't have any answers, because part of being human is gray area. Hypocrisy, if you must. Honesty is part of being my kind of human. I'm not going to hide behind what is Right. I want to continue to grow, and learn. And improve. And be honest.


Jennie said...

I think a lot of otherwise very "rigorous" vegans (and I'll explain the quotes later) are unwilling to hold their companion animals to their ethical standards. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I do know that I have dear, respected vegan friends who feed their dogs raw diets, or who have cats and must feed a diet that contains other animals. It confuses me sometimes, but it doesn't make me think they're bad people. These animals are our friends, they live in our houses and share our lives, whereas other animals live far away. It's not really that different from caring more about your sister than you care about a stranger in Africa. Maybe it's not logical, but it's how we see things.

I know I have a hard time denying my dogs anything they want if it's healthy for them. And I'm guilty too - my dogs don't live a fleshless existence no matter how bad I feel handing them a raw marrow bone. But I make myself feel that guilt handing it over. I don't cry and I don't pout, but I do think about it. Kind of masochistic, yes, but it hasn't killed me yet.

Back to the "rigorous" part. There are some people who believe that veganism is about abstaining from using all animal products, and there are some people who believe that veganism is about doing your personal best to do so. I ascribe to the personal best one. And in the past, my personal best was breaking down and eating cheese once every couple months. It changed over time and as my views changed, but originally that was what I could do, so that's what I did.

I guess the bottom line is that everything is a shade of grey, and everyone is a hypocrite in some ways. We try to do the best and sometimes we can't or don't, and we just have to move on.