I've recently had new thoughts about my attitudes to veganism and vegetarianism. I'm not currently either, but try to be as aware as possible about where my food comes from and eat minimal meat or dairy. I'm trying to work out what I think, and why.
In order to survive as a human being, you inevitably have to do some harm to other living things. That's how the food chain works, and for me, is something that needs to be accepted if I'm going to eat anything at all. Which I do need to do.
Even a diet where no animal products are eaten will still has a ripple effect on other living creatures - it's just a step removed and therefore less visceral. A field of vegetable crops has a devastating effect on the wildlife that used to live there. If you need a mental image for that, think of Peter Rabbit being chased by the farmer with a gun, because he tried to eat the lettuces.
That's before I even start to consider 'vegan' food grown outside the UK and the environmental impact of its transportation. I'm looking at you, avocados.
I'm starting to think that the only way to eat sustainably and without harming anything is to become completely self-sufficient and grow my own. But am I willing to put slug-killing pellets down to protect my courgettes? And what about those caterpillars that I shook off my cabbage plant?
We cannot survive without having to hurt things. That's completely overwhelming to me, and who am I to decide between my courgettes, avocados or beef burger - whether my compassion extends to the slug, the planet or the cow? Where does the guilt stop? It stops where you stop thinking about it.
Rather than my brain imploding and deciding that I mustn't ever eat anything at all, my current approach is to be mindful of where my food comes from, and not to have any thing to excess or leave anything to waste.
Food production has negative consequences. But we have to eat, or we die. There are an outstanding number of articles, opinions, facts and figures to state and counter almost any opinion, and you will find evidence for whichever view you want to support. I know that I have plenty of learning to do, and my views are open to change, but here is where they are for now:
Eat without guilt.
Live with compassion.
Be aware of your ripple effect but don't let it paralyse you from making any movement at all.