Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Get Over Yourself

In class today, we discussed the “Recipes for Values” chapter out of Cooking, Eating, Thinking by Deane Curtin.  As upset as I was to see a dense reading assignment in May Term, it actually gave way to an enlightening discussion.  The article brought up moral vegetarianism.  I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian meaning I eat eggs and dairy products but no meat products.  What led me to become a vegetarian was the documentary The Cove.  Have you seen it?  It is horrifying.  Food,Inc. and Fresh have their moments where you can’t believe they’re presenting you these poor animals who can’t walk so you close your eyes.  I watched those films and was sympathetic to their reporting of the food industry.  But I didn’t do anything about it.  However, The Cove utterly shocked me when they showed dolphins being trapped in a cove, picked through to find zoos new “Flippers” (bottlenose dolphins) while the rest were slaughtered causing the entire cove to turn blood red.  The Cove also says that producers sell that dolphin meat under incorrect labels to make consumers believe it’s fish.  The Cove is why I couldn’t do the gateway drug of pescatarianism.  I loved seafood but how the heck could I justify eating Flipper’s not so lucky buddy?  I couldn’t.  How can I do the most good for the world if I support such violence?  I can’t.  I’ve been vegetarian for two years now.
                With that in mind, I do get on my high horse from time to time.  I question how anyone can eat meat still.  When we were moving the chickens the other day for Dr. Johnson, I got upset that she was going to kill these chickens and eat them.  In my head, she was the dictator ordering, "Off with their heads!" while I was the morally superior Disney princess who communicated with the chickens.  This is the point in the story where Curtin's book slaps my fantasy back to reality.  Curtin pointed out something that I learned back in biology class but had forgotten: "there is no such thing as a life of perfect nonviolence.  Boiling water to cook those homegrown, organic vegetables kills millions of microscopic organisms.  To live is to commit violence” (131).  The article then says we should think of moral vegetarianism as a “moral direction” not a “moral state”.  It is a way of doing less harm, not no harm.  I can’t act like I’m totally innocent.  The way Kate raises her chickens on her farm allows them a life that they wouldn’t have in a conventional mega farm.  We’re all just doing the best we can with what we know.  It’s not a state; it’s a direction. 


  1. It's hard to avoid becoming settled and judgmental regarding our personal food choices. Being on campus with more limited options, it seems that we may have even become more quick to criticize the dietary choices of others. I think you point out what we need to do every so often in order to be more accepting of how everyone chooses to eat.

  2. Your description of The Cove was very shocking to me. I absolutely love dolphins and your description alone horrified me, so, of course, I looked up the trailer. Watching the short trailer, I was so sad for the dolphins, but thinking about it afterward, it makes me wonder how many other places secretly package one type of meat as another, and if we don't even know what kind of meat we're eating, what do we know about it? It is rather scary to think about, which is why I think eating chickens from your own land is a good compromise.