12 December 2014

Choices

We make many choices in life, many of them we forget about in minutes but those major ones, the important sometimes life changing ones that we don't make in minutes and can last a lifetime what are they based on.  We can agonise and think deep based on our past experiences, our beliefs, who we are and how we are.  It is interesting to find out what lies behind a choice but when they are different it seems that others think they have the right to question and criticise but I don't believe we should ever sit in judgement.

Over 20 years ago I made the decision to stop eating meat.  I was a student and had compete control over what I was eating after years of my mums wonderful cooking.  I found myself buying the same sort of food that she cooked including meat which I realised I did not really enjoy eating that much, so I stopped buying it.  I remember well cooking my first packet of lentils, they tasted revolting.  I cooked them in water and nothing else, they are pretty bland without an added flavour of some kind.  It was a steep learning curve, cooking anything involved a bucket of ingredients and more time.  Although my initial decision was based on dislike I did eventually give up fish and then food with animal products such as gelatin and isinglass as I came to think more about the ethics of the food I was eating.  I am not a massive fan of labels but I am vegetarian, I eat eggs, cheese and yogurt (pure milk makes me ill) which apparently makes me a lacto-ovo vegetarian.

There are many choices we can make when it comes to the food we eat, I have chosen a vegetarian diet but I would not, ever, try to persuade anyone to do the same. I really struggle with vegetarians who get on their high horse and ram their diet down others throats.  It is important to me that anyone making such an important decision has done so for their own reasons not mine.  I am not bringing my children up as vegetarians and in my household I am the only one who doesn't eat meat and fish.  I cook it, occasionally.  The meat we buy always comes from a farmers market and we have visited some of these farms.  At the moment I am wrestling with milk, not physically that would be rather messy and ultimately rather smelly.........., no it is the ethics of its production, keeping a cow in an endless cycle of pregnancy or birth in order to ensure a continuous supply and after four to six years they are, unsurprisingly, exhausted.  But it is so easy to be so far removed from our food these days isn't it.  However we buy our milk it is just a white liquid we keep in the fridge we have bought it and know nothing about the life of the cow that has produced this for us.  But not buying milk would for me mean no more cheese and yogurt both of which I love and eat in large quantities, choices are never easy are they?

For now I will continue as I am, partly because to not make a choice is in fact a choice in itself but also because I need an alternative.  Cheese is an important source of protein for me and more importantly for my growing children.  If we stopped eating dairy cheese the alternative is cheese made with plant ingredients including soya, I am yet to be convinced that these are a better alternative.  So I continue to give it some occasional thought along with the thoughts that all the pulses I eat are not produced in the UK and the food miles they rack up to get to me are probably way too high................hmmm I  am off to do my shopping!

9 comments:

  1. Yet again I am with you all they way here! I often think that if we had to catch and kill or produce our food we'd think differently. Milk is a hobby horse of mine wnd I can't understand why so many people consider price the main criterium(is that the singular of criteria?) and never give a thought to those poor cows who are treated like a commodity and used and abused to produce the most milk for the least cost. I buy mine from the farm shop where I usually pay at least twice as much for it but I do get to see the cows as they go to be milked and they look well and content. There is always a price to pay for food and it isn't just the price we pay at the till! My daughter took up being a vegan and that is quite difficult to cater for as you say and I think she is finding it very difficult when out for dinner with friends. She will eat eggs when she comes here since I can asssure her that the hens are roaming freely at the farm and honey too but an alternative to cheese is hard to find. Life is full of decisions isn't it and sometimes all we can do is our best with the knowledge we have. Happy shopping!

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  2. Isn't it "funny" how many people may think about meat and how the animals are reared but don't think twice about milk and how it is produced? Or how some people would not ever buy veal but are quite happy to eat caged chickens. We are so very selective with our choices. Soya is often unsustainably farmed and it is difficult to know what is worse, exhausted cows or exhausted farming soils.... It is sometimes easier to turn a blind eye. You are so thoughtful, I am feeling a sligth twinge of shame. We do try to shop ethically but with four children sometimes the quantity vs quality wins. I try not to beat myself up about it too much. Hope the shopping went ok! I leave it to my husband, he is better at sticking to the list. Have a lovely weekend. Cx

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  3. I too have wrestled with the milk problem and even though we do eat meat, it is only in small quantities and so cheese makes a valuable input in our diet. As you know I love pulses but they don't love me! Trying to cater for diets, animal welfare and food miles can make the weekly shop a proverbial challenge :-)

    Hope your shopping trip went well

    San x

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  4. I've also been struggling with dairy lately. I haven't done anything but cook or bake with milk in years, but I do enjoy cheese and yogurt. But the more I think about how we get that milk, the more uncomfortable I am with the idea. I recently discovered cashew cheese, which is amazingly good and very easy to make, there are lots of recipes on the internet. Currently I'm eating quite a bit of meat because I find during pregnancy I have a hard time getting the protein I need on a vegetarian diet. Like you, I try to make sure the meat I'm eating comes from a small farm, not industrial. I won't lie, though...I'm looking forward to this baby being born and getting back to a vegetarian diet!

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  5. I know what you mean - there are no easy answers. We are vegetarian but I suppose really we 'should' be vegan if we are really concerned about animal welfare. However, I find a vegan diet too restrictive at the moment and just a bit too austere! I like cheese . . . I just do. :)

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  6. It's a bit of a quandry isn't it - we do eat meat but only from our local butchers (which wins awards for the welfare of its meat), and aside from anything we can tell the difference in taste if we eat anything else. With milk my primary concern has been to make sure the farmers are being properly compensated for their dairy farming as I think that can only help with the animal welfare issues, but it's hard to know where to draw the line, and there's always a point at which budget comes in to play too!

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  7. I love this post...thank you. Yes there are so many choices and we all have to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. And even though we have many dietary restrictions (including no dairy and no gluten), I still LOVE grocery shopping! Hope you had a good shopping trip!

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  8. I am also a vegetarian who eats dairy. My husband is the same (that was a prerequisite to getting married!) and my daughter will be raised vegetarian. We don't eat soy products because of the possible health issues and the large eco-footprint of it. Milk is a tricky one. We buy local hormone free or raw milk and I make soft cheeses from it. However, we cannot afford to buy organic hard cheeses like cheddar, and we do eat quite a bit of it. In my perfect world, we would buy only local organic cheeses, but we're not there yet.

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  9. It seems we have similar thoughts on dairy. We are vegetarian, in that we eat eggs (only from our hens or the hens of friends), and we eat honey (local, from neighbours), but dairy has always been on my mind. We ate organic cheese and yogurt before my little man came along, but he had so many tummy issues when we were nursing that I removed it. You are right there are no good alternatives, we just did without. Recently though we have added a little organic cheese back in here and there. Little man doesn't like it, but both my hubby and I are happy to have a little bit again. But I do struggle with the issue of cows in a state of constant pregnancy and lactation, as well as the calf not getting enough or being weaned too soon. I know with organic farming the cows and calves are cared for a little more, but still weaning a calf early, or forcing lactation longer than we should...both things that keep our consumption to a very small amount, and may even send us back to the dairy free life.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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