The ethical omnivore
In the ideal version of me I like to consider myself an ethical omnivore. Ha ha. Which is likely the most self righteous thing I’ve ever said. It’s also a lie, a lie I tell myself because it keeps me (relatively) sane and functional and not hungry. But that doesn’t change reality. I claim some sort of omnivorous high-ground, especially when comparing myself to the… eh… ‘proletariat’… who will buy their chickens in the frozen section of any supermarket… insofar as I (often) tend to invoke the concept of provenance.
I like to know where my chicken (or any meat dish really) came from. While this is not a full battery (no pun intended) of physiological and psychological tests… I am generally ‘okay’ with knowing that my chicken felt the sun on her back and dirt between her claws before I stuff her cavity with lemon, bay leaves and rosemary. There is obviously some debate whether ‘free-range’ actually means… what we envision it to mean… but I am not a regulator… and if they feel my chicken should cost more because it got its one hour of exercise outside in the yard… so be it.
In any event. I am ‘better’ than those people who buy chickens (if you can call them that) raised in row cages whose only exposure to light came from a halogen bulb. At least this what I (smugly) tell myself.
Wait. Lets back up a moment. Omnivore? A vegan will argue (and I can’t really think of a great counter argument, that modernity has allowed us to live a cruelty free existence by subsisting on plants). I know the whole veganism isn’t really cruelty free trope… but maybe we can agree that it is… likely less cruel. (although this opens up a whole other ontological debate where we rank lives in order of ability to suffer)
Maybe we can agree that in order for us to live… something else has got to die. Be that cows, or creatures that soak your grains in their blood and gastric juices when the combine harvester rolls over them… So lets imagine a line graph, we have zero cruelty on one end of the scale… and factory pig farming on the other end to denote maximum cruelty, Veganism likely falls closer to zero than anything else we have. Which in my opinion commands serious respect.
Still, we are all killers (or at least accessories to murder). And while there may come a time soon, where we grow all our vegetable produce in sterile, hydroponic multi-story warehouses and our meat in vats. That time is not yet upon us. Our food network is one gory holocaust from beginning to end. Vegan or carnivore.
If I break it down I am mostly an omnivore because its convenient. And I feel… that if I had to devote my time to sourcing my own food in a way that minimizes suffering and death… I wouldn’t have time for Playstation, building Lego or reading, likely the things that give me the will to carry on with life. It’s a vicious cycle. I loathe existence because of all the death it leaves in its wake but am unprepared to commit myself to actual change for fear of being inconvenienced.
I do think having a more… eh… visceral relationship with our food would likely do us all a great deal of good. If crispy bacon bits on you pancakes meant going out back and clubbing ‘babe’ to death with a claw-hammer, hoisting him up by his hindquarters, bleeding and gutting and then cleaning him… cutting out its butthole (likely my least favorite part of this whole endeavour) and then spending two hours having to saw him into the choice cuts… I am likely going to just skip the bacon bits…
Then again, it probably depends on how hungry I am.