Monday, August 5, 2013

Do your best, it's all you can do

I woke up a bit cranky. It's chilly, my elbow is killing me (I slept with it hanging off the edge of the bed and it's now a little sore from being over extended), and I had a list of things to do from the moment I woke up. I'm also swamped with other people's issues. Then I checked my emails and social media accounts.  Bad idea!

I got smacked between the eyes with some random vegan blogger's sweeping and poorly researched condemnation of all people who don't eat like her as lacking compassion and rational thought processes.  It pissed me off on several levels. One, I don't like the us v. them rationale she employed.  Second, I don't think you can automatically conclude that all people of any group are compassionate or not without better evidence.  I've known some vegans who are numbered among the biggest jerks I've ever met, and I've known meat loving ranchers who are incredibly kind.  Third, I was just not in the mod to be accused of anything.  Fourth, vegan food fads also hurt people and the environment- the new foodie favorites of acai berries and quinoa are causing people who've lived their entire lives eating these foods for generations to go hungry, because the market demand has raised the price of these foods to beyond their means.  That doesn't seem all that compassionate to me.  My last point is food is a highly emotional, personal and culturally constructed concept.  What we eat depends largely on ethnicity, class, economics, historical tendencies, personal preferences, and availability.  To just tell people to change, for any reason, requires careful, thoughtful change over a long period of time.  None of us is capable of throwing away our lifelong cultural teachings overnight.

So, in making dietary choices, especially if you are also trying to be compassionate, responsible and ethical, do your best.  Change what you can, when you can.  Be an educated consumer.  Try new things, eat local if you can, and be kind whenever possible.  For my household, it's eating less processed stuff, and limiting red meat to once a week or less. We've cut down on our dairy consumption, and we try to buy more local produce.  We chose more responsibly caught sea food, and we don't get to caught up in food fads until we know if there are ethical concerns around them.  These are big changes for us, and they should n't be belittled as not compassionate decisions based on someone else's standards.  In all parts of your life, do your best, make the changes you can make and try to ignore those who will never be pleased with your efforts.

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