Thursday, 9 June 2011

A culinary diversion!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to cook, but not only that, I am passionate about the food that we eat.  I buy organic, fairtrade, ethical, local, I want to know where my food has come from and how it got to my plate; not always possible, or easy, but I care to try to find out.

And so I have watched with interest a good friend's near instant conversion to a vegan diet (see  http.cookingwithleyla.blogspot.com) and the recipes that she has posted.  As part of her process she watched Earthlings, a profound movie that I am still struggling my way through.  As with all arguments made to have the strongest impact some of the detail is truly horrifying, but it was in some of the "quieter" details that I think I found myself most shocked by.  It has left me greatly ashamed of the cruelty that we humans are capable of and mindful of the fact that the vast majority of people have no idea of the cruelty being perpetuated in their name; for their much-loved pets, food, clothing, medicine and entertainment.  We may know the odd detail, hear the odd story, see the odd picture, but we do not have the full transparency that allows us to make truly informed and conscious choices.  I can only hope that we would choose differently we truly knew.

Added to that the information that I learnt about how meat production impacts global hunger and I came away determined to set myself a culinary challenge, for just a week to start with, and eat even more consciously that I have done before.  So I made a deal with the boyf and the 9 yr old; if I could, at our local supermarket, stock our larder to live predominantly vegan/vegetarian for a week, they would be up to the challenge of trying some meat free eating.  I was going to go predominantly vegan for the week and only vegetarian if I had to.

If I am brutally honest, I can not imagine a meat-free future for myself.  This was more an intellectual challenge and a chance to cook differently again and expand my culinary horizons.  I was also very interested by people's reactions; vegetarian... a slight mutter; VEGAN... well, I think a good majority of the folk I know think that I have gone just plain crazy!

But it has been extremely easy, I don't miss meat, I have loved the cooking - which is quite a different experience - and the experimenting.  I feel far more in tune with what I am making, willing to try flavours and marry new ideas together.  And, most amazingly of all, I feel at peace with what I eat.  I don't think about what I'm making or eating in the same way that I did, I don't worry about the fat-salt-blah-blah-blah content, I don't wonder where is came from and if it really is local, free-range, ethical as it says it is (don't get me started on packaging and labelling!)  I just cook, eat, and enjoy!

And to those of you that would argue that I think too much... I say that you don't think enough!  We all have the choice to make our own path, but we have the responsibility to do it in the best way that we can, not only for ourselves but for our health and our children and our place on this planet.  If we all truly believed that we should leave this planet in some way better than we found it, we would all be living in a far better state right now.  So we can start with what we put in our bodies, the sustenance that enables everything else we do... go learn, go think, go experiment and I dare you not to, in just the teeny tiniest way, like it!
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