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beware of swarming ecotariats

June 5, 2009

what’s important about vacation for me is allowing myself utter freedom to disconnect from my ordinary life and comfort zones.  as an opinionated person who reads and considers virtually nonstop, it’s a much needed brain break.  it is so luxurious to discharge stress nuances, follow only the “i want” voices, and read a good book.   this last trip i read The Time Traveler’s Wife.   it’s so amazing.  if you have not read it, do something nice for yourself and pick up a copy.  it’s dreamy.  one night of my vacation i did not leave the bedroom b/c i was enjoying getting to know the characters so much.  i spent most of the next day playing lots of Over the Rhine while reading poolside with cocktail in hand.  dreamy.

there is a downside of returning from vacation, mainly my attitude, but that’s not what this post is about.  this post is about the interesting things i’ve filled that extra vacation-discharged brain space with over the week.  in catching up on news and blogs and whatnot, i offer some highlights of post-vacation concepts that have peaked my interests this week:


i love the Ecotarian concept as described here.  i will probably always be uncomfortable with labels but i would feel more comfortable calling myself a pro-vegan ecotarian with a vegan kitchen.  meaning, i’m not perfect but i regularly consider and reconsider how to make the most earth loving choice, and i do not cook with animal products.  veganism is something i agree with and admire. it’s also so broad and a zealous perfection that i’m not sure i’d ever feel comfortable saying i meet the vegan definition.   here is where i think there is something to my question about ecotarianism vs vegainism rather than a bunch of excuses about why i’m not perfect in my commitments – is it worse for the earth to indulge my bad-post-carni-hankering for a suitable vegan cheese by ordering diaya and teese or purchasing a nonvegan cheese from the local farmers at the weekly farmer’s market? 

the vegan cheeses i ordered this week were each made in chicago (i think), i imagine they were separately shipped for stock at Pangea in the washington, d.c. area, and then they will be shipped to me in houston.  that’s a lot of shipping to avoid dairy, of which i seek to avoid based on a combination of cruelty, health & earth friendly principles.  obviously no animals were harmed in producing these products, check.   as for health, i don’t classify these as health foods so i cannot credit health as a reason to make this purchase.  as for earth friendliness, all of that shipping makes me cringe and suggests a total fail.  although no cattle or goat gases in the atmosphere can be credited to the purchase of this product, so the earth wins in some marginal degree there.

as for the goat cheese option, these farmers have looked me in the eyes and talked to me about their animal farming practices.  i have met their goats.  they look happily goatey.  i have been welcomed to visit their farm, unannounced, any time i am curious about it.  i believe these people love their animals and are raising them with cruelty-free farming practices.  so my vegan principle of cruelty-free is satisfied.  from a health perspective, the goat cheese might actually offer some nutritional value, alongside the fats and calories.  as for the earth, a purchase from them would require no shipping.  it would support the local business and keep the money local, boosting my community principles. 

i think i pondered ecotarianism before i heard the term when i wondered about the bees, the sea creatures consumed in honduras, and my brother’s questions about whether i find hunting as egregious as factory farming.

i think ecotarianism is a good illustration of the complexity of consciousness, when you are passionate about many things.  for me, i think the earth is my most important cause.  without a suitable environment for life, we will have no food.  all of the things In a Garden…Somewhere lists as issues they consider are important to me too.  in fact, i think it’s spot on.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2009 5:03 pm

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. I love to see another Houstonian! 🙂 I love my adoptive city (Im from San Antonio, originally).

    The eco-friendly vs vegan issue comes up a lot in my life, mostly when I think about 2 things: honey and eggs. I choose to eat honey, but don’t normally buy it. I think it is a great eco-friendly choice and I don’t believe bees have feelings. I consider myself to be vegan or “strict vegetarian” even though I eat honey. Bees are free to live and leave their hives whenever they want, and honey is not processed like sugar or agave nectar are.

    Eggs are a big thing for me because I think someday I’ll want a (rescued) chicken. Female chickens produce unfertile eggs with no rooster around. BUT you must think that if you buy a chicken or eggs from a farm that buys chickens, that for every egg that is purposely hatched, 50% of them are male chicks, not desireable and usually sold for meat. But a rescued chicken adopted from a sanctuary will produce eggs that would be okay for me, personally, to eat (Russell will never ever eat eggs), but I think at this point I actually prefer to not eat eggs. I love tofu scrambler and don’t miss eggs in my food. I think if I do rescue a chicken I’ll just compost the eggs, or feed the eggs to my cats.

    Dairy, to me, is totally different. Probably because my parents run a goat farm, I know that goats need to be perpetually bred to produce milk. And every time they’re bred, they produce a kid or two. And soon you run out of space for goats (or need for male goats) but you have to keep breeding in order to get more milk. Thus a lot of baby goats end up as cabrito goat meat!

    That said, I have a really hard time staying on the vegan wagon 100% of the time, and when I do fall off, it’s normally cheese or chocolate. I’ve been realizing that I need to allow myself to buy or make soy cheese and some chocolatey foods on occasion so I don’t fall off the wagon as often. It took me several years to be 100% vegetarian and I have been now for many, MANY years. I can’t imagine ever eating meat again. Eventually I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about milk and eggs. 🙂

    Good luck to you!!!

    • June 5, 2009 5:09 pm

      Oh and one more thing! Don’t forget that farm animals need to eat, too. I spent a lot of time debating tofu vs eggs when I realized that chickens eat plenty of chicken feed to produce those eggs, and it does in fact contain the same soy that I use to make homemade tofu (or when I buy local tofu).

      I’m going to a local farm tomorrow for veggies and peaches! I’ll be sure to post.

    • maya938 permalink*
      June 6, 2009 12:37 pm

      Thanks for your feedback, Ruthie. That’s an interesting point you make about the goat milk. In thinking more about my proposed scenario I think my question on soy cheese was not exactly a perfect example of a “problem” or conflict with the two philosophies in that the soy cheezes I ordered were ordered in the spirit of a gift to myself rather than a need based purchase. I chose to make a frivolous purchase. I think the answer to that particular issue is that if I want to regularly consume these products, I need to campaign a local grocer to stock them. I think it’s important to patron the vegan product suppliers like Pangea. It would be even more helpful if vegan suppliers were supplying to a local source directly. If I like the products, I could suggest that Whole Foods replace thier veg cheeze lines that contain casien with these others. I honestly don’t think I’ll find myself stocking my kitchen with animal products of any kind. I like keeping a 100% vegan kitchen.

      As for eggs, I was questioned recently when I participated in a community chicken coupe project. Sure, I won’t be eating eggs, but I lent a hand in the project b/c it was a neighborhood collective that intended to farm the chickens. The housed chickens would be rescued from the FFs before the chickens were sold to the dog trainers, grimace :(. They would support community resilence. I learned how to use a skill saw. My new friends will help me with my garden in the fall.

      I think I’m ok with honey too. I am fairly new to the journey. I only made the dietary change 1.5 years ago. First I installed the no meat, no dairy rule, allowing myself to keep sea creatures. I found the transition to go fairly smoothly. That first year allowed me to reskill my cooking and grocery shopping habits. It was a really fun adventure. I haven’t missed meat once. This year I pledged to get away from regularly eating sea creatures. I am/was doing really great with it. I hope by the end of the year I will feels as strongly against eating sea creatures as I do all other meats. I imagine that I will. I would bet that having my own garden will give me even more energy for my choices.

      The journey is amazing. I love it more and more each day. I find that time solidifies my commitments. I enjoy going back and examining my choices from other perspectives as well.

  2. June 6, 2009 6:00 pm

    Thanks for writing,I really enjoyed your newest post.I think you should post more frequently,you obviously have talent for blogging!

    • maya938 permalink*
      June 6, 2009 11:47 pm

      thanks a lot, Jack. thanks for reading, and for your words of encouragement. i’ll do my best to keep cranking them out.

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