Tag Archives: Growing and gardening

Vegetarian

Whenever I’m forced to say I’m vegetarian, usually in some public place where eating is happening, I’m always asked, “Why?” by someone earnestly curious, while silence blooms around us to eavesdrop.  I flounder to answer this question every time.   Is it that I don’t believe in cruelty to animals?  Do I believe I’ll have better health, better karma, or is it a moral/environmental act -in other words, am I working on my carbon footprint?

All of the above is true for me, but let’s explore some of the “meatier” issues here.

Environmentally, there’s a strong argument that a healthy ecosystem includes grazing animals (Omnivore’s Dilemma).  But then the common mistake is to jump from this fact to defend supermarket steak- a product that is so far removed from ethics and health that it’s no longer defensible.

Yes, our evolutionary ancestors ate meat and our genetics carry the DNA of generations of meat eaters.  However, they hunted!  There were no mammoth feedlots.  As a society we are now inarguably too far removed from the  source of our food and the reality of the food chain.  Remarkable, how a little saran wrap can insulate us so thoroughly from the pain and death involved in the meat we eat.

There’s a very strong argument that vegetarianism is a better health choice.  VERY strong. There remains a counter-argument that  for some, vegetarianism can never provide optimum health (Vegetarian Myth).  However, even that camp can’t deny that North Americans eat too much meat and would benefit from significant reduction.

So, to cut down on meat is better for us individually and collectively, everyone agrees.

But, to cut down, or to quit?  I think  that comes down to a “what feels right?”, for you.

The average American eats 9oz of meat per day (Michael Pollan), and eating meat is connected to every life-shortening disease you could mention- heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  1/3 of all arable land is devoted to  growing crops for animal food (US FDA), while the vast majority of food calories grown to feed to meat animals is “wasted” on metabolism during the animals growth. On average it takes 20 food calories fed to an animal to get one meat calorie out (Diet For a Small Planet).  Lets not even start in on the vast additional environmental and health problems caused by the overuse of corn to feed the meat industry.  Just watch King Corn.
World Bank agricultural scientists have deemed the meat industry the cause of 51% of global carbon emissions (World Watch).

Chickens and pigs score higher on cognitive tests than dogs and cats, but the latter have legal protection while the former are subjected to entire lives of “unmitigated misery” (Bruce Freidrich). Most people who came within spitting distance of a slaughterhouse would feel disturbed, to put it mildly.  Visiting an industrial abattoir (placed suitably very distant from anywhere residential) as a hitchhiker in a cattle truck several years ago was shockingly traumatic for me, and I din’t even set foot inside the place.

However, the switch over from meat-eating to vegetarian, clearly, does not come from reading a litany of statistics, nor even seeing films of unanesthetized turkeys having their beaks sawed off in a spray of blood and silenced screams.    The facts pointing to better health, better agriculture, and better karma have been available for years.  It seems as though some internal readiness comes first, and then some external trigger finally flips the switch and anchors it.

I was vegan for some years in my twenties, and it didn’t go well.  I found that I couldn’t stay healthy.  In hindsight I see that I didn’t have the discipline and knowledge to be able to sustain my own nutrition.  It takes education, dedication, and responsibility to feed oneself in a balanced way, especially as a vegan.  On the other hand, how else would you want to eat, if not consciously?

Returning to meat,  I contributed to much animal loss of life over the years by eating unconsciously, assisted by the “saran wrap remove”, and believing that I could not be completely healthy, let alone athletic, on a vegetable-based diet (justified frequently with my vegan story).  This is demonstrably bullshit.   Ironman athletes like Brendan Brazier and Dave Scott prove it.  Just last night I learned one of my favorite UFC fighters just went veggie, joining Mac Danzig and others. Continue reading Vegetarian

It’s zucchini season!

Every year, there’s that time in August when everyone you know asks if you can use any more zucchini, and then lays one on you the size of two footballs.  We did not plant any zukes this year, leaving command of the garden to various squash, which preserve better.

CIMG9903I forgot to take a picture until after using 2/3 of the largest one (seen cut), and a preceding zucchini equalling that size, which has already been turned into muffins.  Muffins are my preferred method of making zucchini edible.  You can’t hide something that size in a salad.  Production is well into the hundreds of muffins made so far, many of which enjoy freezer cryostasis atm.  While plundering local egg resources, I’ve also been using up lots of old rye flour and cocoa in the same swoop – how I accumulated so much cocoa powder is a mystery.

This is the best zucchini muffin recipe I’ve found.  Note- high zucchini to egg ratio, and you can get more zucchini in there than it calls for, too.  Easy combining – I prefer “throw it all in a bowl” instructions to mincing around with delicate arcane techniques like “sifting” and “folding”.  Folding is for bath towels!  And very flexible.  Have added sunflower seeds, pine nuts, cocoa, coconut, oil vs butter, fake eggs, dates, milk, apples, and almonds as they came to hand, and the muffins still work.

A succulence of tomatoes

CIMG9905This is my favorite way to eat tomatoes, en masse!  Wedged, drenched (or is that, “dredged”?) in fresh ground black pepper and swept with sea salt.  Meow!  Definitely can’t stop at just one.  Like spoonfuls of creamed honey direct from the bucket when I was little, I can go through tomatoes like this until I feel ill.

Today my big mission, considering my current limitations, was staking the late tomatoes- the second round of starts that are just showing their first fruits.  I gave the early tomates some love too- doses of organic fertilizer all around.
Most of my tomatoes are in pots but the one with free roots in the garden is eNORMous, with over a dozen thick stems loaded with giant fruit.

I wasn’t fast enough with the camera, but I watched a happy jay pull a peanut out of a tomato pot I hadn’t reached yet. I hope he was surprised as I was.  There were no peanuts in there when I planted!  Mayhap the jay was plundering a squirrel stash.