Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oprah And The Vegan Challenge Part 1

I saw the episode of Oprah about the Vegan challenge to her entire staff on February 1, 2010. Actually a friend of mine that works for Cargill let me know that it was coming up. I must say, I felt it was very well balanced. Since I come from both sides of this issue and have experiences that most people do not, the show seemed like an open exchange of ideas. I do realize that no matter what is done or said, people on both sides are not always understanding of each other.

People who are vegetarian and vegan, most of the time feel that eating animals is ethically wrong. On the other side, those that produce animals for consumption feel that this is a valid part of the cycle of life and that without them, the world would go hungry. These are valid arguments on both sides. For me, I try to find balance. Of course, feel free to leave your comments, just keep them respectful. If they are attacking or negative, they will not get published. I'm very lenient about comments but I don't tolerate attacks or disrespect.

Raising animals or crops for production is not an easy thing. If anyone out there thinks it is, spend a day with a farmer and you'll quickly understand just how hard the work is. It is not something one decides today that they will be a farmer and start doing it. It is either in your blood or not because farming is not for most of the people in our country. Most would not last a week working on a farm. I'm not saying that too be harsh but it is a reality.

In addition to that, I often hear people say that farmers make too much money but again, most of the profit margins are so narrow that one tiny mishap or market fluctuation or legislative change could wipe out a farming operation. Even an environmental impact such as weather changes or storms could impact the health of the animals to the point where the entire farm could be lost. Making a profit is difficult in the best of years and almost impossible in the worst of years.

One of the things I see is just how difficult it is to find adequate supplies of vegetables and non meat products in the area I live in. Sometimes finding a fresh supply of vegetables is difficult and when I look at the amount of space in the local area grocery stores devoted to produce, it is relatively small compared to the junk type food that most people purchase. Of course we can drive 40 miles and buy stuff at organic markets but honestly, that gets way too expensive. I am trying to grow some vegetables during the summer but sometimes weather, bugs and time inhibits those ambitions.

I cannot help but think that if it is that difficult for me to buy good quality vegetables in my area, how would we feed the entire world if there were no meat products. If everyone had large gardens like they once did, I could believe that is a more likely possibility but to depend upon our food system to produce it for everyone, is just not realistic and feasible.

In addition, if vegetables became in high demand, the prices would surely rise. It is the law of supply and demand. There are many people in this world and in our country who care barely buy enough food to feed their family. Most of us never see this and we think that the people who are like that are just on food stamps. However, there are many that never get any assistance whatsoever and yet they struggle to feed themselves and their family. Most of us are very blind when it comes to this taking place right before our eyes.

I know first hand what it is like to go to bed hungry and go to school hungry as a kid. Sometimes all we had to eat was popcorn for a meal or sometimes a can of vegetables was all we had to feed a family of five. When I think back to the small amount of food we had to eat growing up, especially when I was just a few years old, I can hardly believe I made it this far in life. Even at one point in college, I was struggling during the summer and all I could afford to eat was some bread, jello, peanut butter and jelly. That's about it but yet no one around me knew or cared how badly I had it. It was a difficult month to get through.

In my mind, I feel a balance is more important than rigid beliefs from either side. However, I try to respect each side even though I don't understand the rigid beliefs. Each person of course has to make their own choices for what is right for them. As long as that person respects others who feel differently, than that brings balance into life.

Unfortunately, all too often, I have been met with gasps by people standing right in front of me as they find out that I eat meat. Because I'm a massage therapist and part of alternative medicine, it is often believed that I have to be a vegetarian in order to be an enlightened individual. Again, I really have no place with the rigid thinking and beliefs. If I wanted that, I would be attending the church that I grew up in. There is so much more to life than rigid thinking.

We all have so much to contribute to society and humanity that we need to focus more on helping each other learn rather than judging each other. This goes for both sides on this issue. If we stand opposed, how will the other side ever come to understand what it is that we feel is important. If we stand opposed, how will that help further the goals and ideals you find important in your life. We need to work together, listen with compassion and love unconditionally.

Come back tomorrow for more on how I have actually been switching my eating habits and although I would not classify myself as a vegetarian, I am slowly shifting that direction.

Part 2, Oprah And The Vegan Challenge

For Further Reading:
1) The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas
2) Oprah And The Vegan Challenge, Part 2 (2/9/11)
3) Oprah.com Episode - Vegan Challenge
4) Food Based Healing Smoothies

Blog Post & Images (c) 2/5/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

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