Vegetarianism, a lifestyle I practiced from age 15 to 25 until being corrupted by foreigners, is back on my mind after today's familial visit to the wonderfully inspiring Farm Sanctuary in nearby Watkins Glen, New York, which shelters "downed" and other mistreated farm animals. At the very least, I will no longer be willing to turn a blind eye to Factory Farming, whose horrors I have long known about but shamefully ignored.
I do not think eating meat is ethically wrong, but it is clear that they way we harvest it in the modern world, like so much we do in the modern world, is dead wrong. Several options for a more ethical diet are available. Veganism, I have to admit, has pretty compelling arguments. Ovo-lacto vegetarianism is a popular choice, but there are cruelty issues with egg and dairy farming. I myself hate eggs, but as a family we've hopefully mitigated some concerns by going organic for the kiddos. Still, "organic" is just a label. Pescetarianism is the clear and obvious answer for an adherent of a religion founded by fishermen. Semi-vegetarianism might be a more nuanced option; I could eat only hunted meat, or meat that is certifiably free-range and ethically slaughtered. Roadkill cuisine might be the way to go. Just kidding. Sorta.
Food for thought, inspired by a visit to Farm Sanctuary, a truly wonderful place staffed by beautiful people. From the old blog, some thoughts of mine and others, including George W. Bush and Sarah Palin's speechwriter, on the subject of animal welfare — Against Factory Farming, Pigs Are Pigs, Not Production Units, "Perhaps the Cruelest Industry".
Let us close with these words from St. Francis of Assisi:
- If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men. Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission - to be of service to them wherever they require it.