3.29.2007

Vegetarian thoughts

It's been a while since I've posted. =(

Partly because I've been just too busy grocery shopping, washing dishes and reading lots of really delightful books to my wuggies.

And also, partly because my creative energies have been directed elsewhere. I've been setting a lot of Christina Rossetti's poetry to music lately. I see so much of myself in her. In her early poems I see who I was, in her middle poems I see who I am, and in her later poems I see who I would like to become. So we work well together, so to speak.

I've also been working on a board book rendition of Genesis 1. Hebrew poetry just seems very well suited to toddlers. The rhythms of the creation account are rather reminiscent of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, actually.

So I've been spending a lot of time just soaking in Genesis I. That and trying to come up with a rhyme about the gathering of the waters.

Anyway, reading the creation account has got me thinking about the purpose and role of man, and that has got me thinking vegetarian thoughts. I'd always been under the impression that God pronounced everything he had made "good"---except for mankind, who he pronounced to be "very good."

Actually God pronounced the whole of creation to be very good, once man was there to cultivate it. The distinction between "good" and "very good" in this case doesn't imply that the rest of creation was created for our good, so much as that we were created for the good of the rest of creation.

So I've been thinking vegetarian thoughts. Not that eating meat is wrong... but eating fruit is just purely and wholly good, and anything else is a little bit bittersweet. We live in a fallen world, and in this fallen world, there is a place for cultivating and caring for animals for the purpose of killing them and eating them.

Yet I have a hard time reconciling current meat industry practices with the creation mandates. I don't think that was exactly what God meant when He commanded us to rule over all the creatures. At least I hope not, because He created us to be in His image.

Of course, for a price, you can buy meat from supposedly well-treated animals. I'm not sure how much of that is true, and how much of it's a ruse---I have heard that the free-range chicken thing is something of a joke. But whatever the case, we certainly cannot afford it.

The fact is, the only way we can afford to eat as much meat as we do is through the inhumane treatment of animals.

On the other hand, we are well supplied with lots and lots of wonderful and affordable plant foods that can meet all our nutritional needs. Foods that are clearly very much in keeping with man's role in the world.

So I've been experimenting around with vegetarian meals. Last night we had pinto beans boiled in chicken broth (like I said, I'm not entirely opposed to meat--I'd just like to eat less of it!) with a chopped leek, a chopped onion, a full bulb of whole garlic cloves, a whole dried New Mexico chili, a handful of peppercorns, a dash of salt, and a generous blop of olive oil. I served it on brown rice, topped with grated romano cheese. The resulting color scheme didn't look terribly appetizing, but the flavors were sublime.

At least, Andy and I enjoyed the meal. The wuggies wouldn't touch it.

Sigh.

I'm afraid the only vegetarian thoughts they're interested in thinking are the ones that involve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

7 comments:

Jessica said...

We're not meat-free, but we do eat vegetarian meals at least a couple times a week. Because, well, it's healthier, cheaper and - as you point out so well - more ethically correct.

Anyway, my very favorite place to find yummy veggie recipes is Vegetarian Times, so much so that I subscribed to it. They always have a few too many (for my taste) recipes involving fake meat products (why bother?), but also have lots of delicious ways to just cook up some plant food. We're eating more variety eating vegetarian than we are when we eat meat!

Anyway, I discovered them at the library, which has a subscription. I also discovered that they've published a cookbook, which your library might have even if they don't have the magazine.

sadly, their website doesn't have their recipes. :(

-Jess

Elena said...

Thanks! I'll have to check it out!

Sarah said...

We're not vegetarian at all (I don't think Dave would survive). However, I lean that way a little.

I just read "Fast Food Nation" which pushes me even farther that way, but not because of what it describes about how the animals are treated (which is terrible). It's because of how the humans are treated.

People who work in meatpacking plants are often illegal and always poor. The "assembly lines" are too fast, so the workers get hurt. The company suffers if the injury is reported, so they try to keep people from reporting it. They make workers go to company doctors, who declare them "fine" and put them back on the line. Etc., etc. You can read the book for all the (seriously) gory details. But it makes me not want to eat meat.

Don't get me wrong--I don't like the idea of hurting animals. But I like the idea of hurting people so much less that the "hurting animals" part fades.

Elena said...

Sarah--do you know if the labor ethics are any better for plant food production?

Cate said...

Elena,

My roommate and I recenly became vegetarians (well, for me it was a second time around as I was a veggie all throughout junior high and some of high school. Though we had talked about it forever, the final straw was our research into the meat industry. And you are right about free range chickens. A chicken can be called free range if it is given something like a foot and a half of space, not exactly a happy home.

A great way to get affordable, ethical meat is from 4-H kids. They raise the animals with strict standards and individual attention, and sell their meat to you directly from their farm. Though you would have to buy a whole pig/steer/lamb, if you have a deep freezer or a lot of friends, it can be a great way to get really good meat for a family.

I remember vaguely that you mentioned moving out of the LA area sometime in your future. If this happens, I am sure it will be easier for you to find families with egg producing chickens (even my mother's seven hens lay too much for her) or 4-H clubs you can support. I find it infinitely more satisfying than buying from Albertsons :-).

Cate
Misscate.com

Sarah Marie said...

Hi Elena,

Your beans and rice dish sounds scrumptuous! I know what you mean about an un-appetizing color scheme, though; a few nights ago I made Lentil Chili in my slow-cooker. Spicy, delectable, delicious... but brown and lumpy. Nathan choked down a few bites out of love and gratitude, but all in all... I suppose it would be hard to make someone who gags on fruits and vegetables into a vegetarian, hmm?

Elena said...

Oooh! More comments!

That's a fascinating thought about 4-H clubs, Cate. Something to keep in mind later on. Someday when we have more room, we'd love to have our own hen house.

And Sarah, my hubby absolutely adores his fruits and veggies... but I can't get him to eat lentils, either. Which I think is so funny, not to mention a bummer. I totally grew up on lentils, and they're so flavorful, quick, cheap, and nutritious. He says he it's just the texture that bugs him, though, so I'm going to try out some recipes involving lentil puree. =/