What do you do when your ethics and values conflict with your health needs? I began this blog four years ago to chronicle my transition to raw veganism. My goal and heartfelt desire was to eat in a way that supported my health yet caused as little environmental harm as possible.
After much experimentation, I now know that(today) my physical and mental health seem best when I eat a lot of protein, particularly red meat. That is not who I want to be. It is, however, who I am now.
Raising beef--particularly cheap beef--has a massive environmental footprint. In the first year, as I ate my tofu, cheese, yogurt, almond butter, eggs, beans, quinoa, rice, and spinach, I'd look with smug disdain at people chomping on fast-food burgers, knowing that their meat was wreaking environmental havoc and decimating rain forests--and that I had made the more superior choice.
As my stomach rebelled against grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, and soy, and my protein needs increased (because of the benefits of protein for folks with attention issues, along with strength-training and wanting to increase muscle mass), I began eating meat. I was, at the time, eating chicken, grass-fed beef and lamb, and line-caught salmon, so I could still put a big distance between my meat- and fish-eating and those of the environment-wrecking masses.
Well, that line of demarcation has crumbled: my pocketbook can no longer afford my ethics (and my stomach stopped liking egg yolks and chicken). I go to Trader Joe's now and buy a pound of ground beef, wrapped in plastic, for about six bucks. The label tells me it contains meat from Brazil, Australia, and the U.S. It is certainly not grass-fed. The cheap lamb I
buy comes from Australia or Iceland, and is still cheaper (dollar-wise, but not on the environment) than lamb grown less than a few hundred miles from my apartment. I don't buy salmon much any more, but do buy sole and cans of tuna, even as I know the oceans are over fished.
When you eat about 130 grams of protein a day, you can't (or at least, I can't) do it all on meat (as there's only about 7 grams of protein in each ounce). I do consume powdered egg whites and whey powder in protein shakes.
Unfortunately, my stomach doesn't do well with dairy, fermented or otherwise. Although I consume whey isolate (with the least amount of lactose of the wheys) my stomach still has difficulty with it, and sometimes rebels against egg whites, too. So I can't rely on either one for my primary source of protein. And that leads me back--to meat.
Also, as I have handled more meat--and more meat that looks like meat (for example, lamb chops or shanks that resemble *my* body parts) I'm quite more aware that I'm eating another being, a dead being killed so I could eat it. I do give thanks to the animal, and have done that for a long time, but even that seems insufficient lately.
So the more meat I eat, the more I feel like a hypocrite--albeit a healthy one. I'm not sure what to do.