The Mabbsonsea family has been abstaining from eating the flesh of animals during Lent. We have enjoyed trying out new recipes; the kitchen bin is less smelly, and Mrs Mabbsonsea says she feels healthier. Now, with one week left to go, there are heated discussions over the lentil bake about our future diet.
I would like to continue, but the rest of the family would like to eat some meat sometimes (especially bacon), and Mrs M is looking forward to eating fish again. It will be difficult for the family cook to cater for different diets, and as the family cook is me, that’s an important consideration.
I have felt better in my soul that no animal has had to die to feed me. I have not been benefiting from a meat industry that is inhumane, wasteful and violent. As I have said before, I really like meat (see previous post – Meat is Murder), so I see not eating it as the kind of sacrifice we in the west will have to make towards a sustainable, equitable world. I have felt better for acting on a belief.
On the other hand, vegetarianism can be anti-social. It can be awkward for hosts (especially meat-and-two-veg people) to be told that you won’t eat meat. Or is it just that I was brought up to eat what’s put in front of you, and to object feels rude? Also, there’s this basic fact – for me to live, something has to die. There’s an Easter thought for you. Whether it’s a chicken or a mackerel, a carrot or a wheat plant, or even the potential life in milk, eggs and seeds – something has to give. It’s just natural.
The family consensus that seems to be emerging is that we could eat meat occasionally. Perhaps this is the best compromise. We could continue to be thoughtful about all our food – organic, fairtrade and local, wherever possible. We could make sure that any meat is reared and slaughtered humanely, perhaps seeking out farmers markets or farm shops as an equivalent to our ancestors going hunting. That effort should keep it really occasional. We could buy fish from the fishermen’s stall on the beach, since we are lucky enough to have that option. When away at a conference, I think I can be vegetarian without being antisocial, even if it probably means eating too much cheese.
I suspect that’s where we’ll end up. It’s not my preferred choice, but – hey – that’s communal life for you.