I’ve found myself incredibly interested in food and what we put into our bodies and why. I’m thankful that Netflix, though its selection sometimes lacks, has an incredible selection of documentaries. I watch documentaries every chance I get, about various topics, and lately it’s been about food. Last month, we watched Forks Over Knives and just three days ago, I added Food Inc., Food Matters and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead to the queue. We watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead on Saturday night and Food Inc. on Sunday.
I don’t think I could possibly put into coherent words the range of emotions that Food Inc. brought upon me. I’m probably the last vegan on the planet who hadn’t seen this film and it’s an absolute must-see to anyone who hasn’t. I was weary when we turned it on: the title alone warned me what the content of this film would be about. I do not handle blood well. I can’t watch violent movies. I don’t surf the PETA website. I know about the brutality that goes on in America’s slaughterhouses and knowing has been enough for me. I have no interest in seeing it because at this point, I can’t do much more than what I’m doing. I don’t eat animal products. I am taking myself out of animal-tested product usage. I am trying to find alternatives for my leather shoes. Watching the sort of goings-on that are so oft ignored is going to do nothing but leave me with a heavy heart. But I watched the movie anyway, because I knew there would be more to it than scenes of brutality, but most importantly, I thought it was important for my Boyfriend the Omnivore to watch.
At times, this movie had me in tears. At times, my jaw dropped. At times, I had to look away, shut my eyes, plug my ears. At times, I was angry. At times, my heart was incredibly heavy–not just for the animals, but for the people. The people who work at these farms earning only $18,000 a year. The people exploited. The people whose income has them choosing dollar cheeseburgers to feed their families over produce and whole grains. The people who lose children over meat that should have been recalled but wasn’t. The system is fucked up, plain and simple. When I first went the vegan route, it was initially about my health and about a personal choice. Increasingly, as time goes on and I learn more, the choice is becoming more and more about the animals. The things that you see in this film are nowhere near as bad as what they could be showing you. The film is rated PG, after all. But still, the things I saw cannot be unseen. It is horrific. Even my boyfriend, who is typically desensitized, was in shock and awe.
My boyfriend’s father’s birthday was yesterday and our plan was to go over to his parents’ and cook them dinner. I liked this plan because it put me in charge of what I could eat without being a hassle yet still afforded us the opportunity to spend his father’s birthday with his family. They are all meat eaters and my boyfriend cooked steaks on the grill; I cooked Gardein “chick’n” patties inside. To my complete surprise, my boyfriend opted for the fake chicken rather than the steak. This was a small victory to me, a small triumph. I know he will not convert to veganism. He won’t even convert to vegetarianism. But for a small moment in time, I felt like I was able to effect change, albeit small it was. He doesn’t have the budget for steak dinners and he let one of the few opportunities he would have to indulge in steak pass without batting an eye. He even used my earth balance and tofutti sour cream for his baked potato rather than the actual margarine and sour cream that the rest of his family was using. My heart swelled with pride.
He has cut back his meat consumption considerably since I’ve embarked on this diet change. I am trying to teach him that veganism is delicious and hearty and at the same time, good for the body, soul, planet, and animals. I really don’t think I’ll ever live to see a day where he can stop eating meat entirely, but the small steps make a difference. We are but two people, two freckles on this planet, but every small bit helps. I hope for everyone to be able to see life through these eyes. So many people are tripped up by the incomprehensibility of change. It’s easy to say “I’m just one person and I can’t make a difference and I’m only here for a short while, I may as well enjoy life and do/eat [x, y, z].” Maybe our lives are short but that doesn’t give us license to ruin these body-vessels we inhabit, or this planet.
Please watch Food Inc. if you haven’t. Next up, I’d love to read Omnivore’s Dilemma. Michael Pollen is a smart man.