Hello and Goodbye, for Now

Spring bud

It was a long winter. As trees blossom and bloom in Brooklyn today, I’m reminded that the last time I posted here was before the leaves turned color. So… where have I been?

In the midst of a crisis of relevance, I suppose. I admit I was getting a bit tired of the sound of my own voice.

The title of this blog also became problematic, because a significant part of the “dilemma” disappeared on January 2nd, when I stopped eating meat, even when it’s well-sourced. (I still eat fish, though rarely.) And I’m still eating eggs and dairy, so it’s not like the dilemma is actually gone. Those animals suffer in the factory farming system as much as those who are slaughtered for their flesh. My personal ethics are not consistent with my current behavior, but I’m still working on it.

The truly good news is that the Animal Welfare Committee at the co-op is finally a reality, so I’ll be able to work to help share what I’ve learned with 15,000 members.

Recently someone told me a funny joke:

Q. How can you tell when someone’s a vegetarian?
A. Because they tell you so every five minutes.

That’s why I’ve been hesitant to continue detailing my dietary practices here.

In other news, Michael “went vegan” in October. He has opted out of the animal product system entirely. It’s intense. But he found an amazing cookbook, Isa Chandra Moskowitz‘s Veganomicon, which is the best cookbook I’ve ever used. I’m also using Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, which is almost 1000 pages and feels Biblical. I feel like I’m cooking at a whole new level. I love the food in both, and don’t feel I’m missing anything by eating mostly vegan at home (eating out is another story). Michael is thrilled by my new culinary chops.

And yet… I cannot stop eating cheese. I’m no longer drinking milk, only soy milk. And it’s usually easy enough to avoid eggs. But the cheese… oh, the cheese.

So… soon this blog will be archived within a more all-encompassing blog, kamaeinhorn.com. I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.

Thank you to everyone who read, commented, rallied, and even argued. Thank you to all my friends and family for not going all glassy-eyed when I needed to share the information I was metabolizing. You make bloggin’ fun.

Caught in the Net of Life and Time

quotation marks

Here’s another in a series of thought-provoking quotes, plus my two cents.

For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the Earth.
Henry Beston, Naturalist

This quote was sent to me by Ceciley Bachnik Lowe, a woman I interviewed for a recent Best Friends Animal Society article. She’s an advocate for the hundred feral cats in her community, specifically for the “trap, neuter, release” policy, which is the only effective way to control the population.


Fresh: New thinking about what we're eating

Fresh is a great film about improving our food system. It’s more action-oriented than Food Inc., and has a more optimistic tone than, for instance, this blog. The film focuses on what many good, smart people are doing to affect change within our food system, and not on scaring viewers or bumming them out.

It also features lots of face time with some of the most important characters in the good food movement: Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, Will Allen of Growing Power, and George Naylor of the National Family Farm Coalition.

It’s in limited release and depends on grassroots distribution, so consider hosting a home or community screening. You can also order a DVD.

Fire and Meat

I just ordered Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the Publishers Weekly review:

Catching Fire cover

Cooked cuisine was central to the biological and social evolution of humanity, argues this fascinating study. Harvard biological anthropologist Wrangham dates the breakthrough in human evolution to a moment 1.8 million years ago, when, he conjectures, our forebears tamed fire and began cooking… these innovations drove anatomical and physiological changes that make us adapted to eating cooked food the way cows are adapted to eating grass. By making food more digestible and easier to extract energy from, Wrangham reasons, cooking enabled hominids’ jaws, teeth and guts to shrink, freeing up calories to fuel their expanding brains. It also gave rise to pair bonding and table manners, and liberated mankind from the drudgery of chewing.

I have this image of early men and women around a campfire, cooking and sharing the meat the men hunted. This fire may be why people began sitting in circles in the first place (go into any PreK-grade 2 classroom and you’ll see kids having “morning meeting” in a circle; there’s something elemental about humans communicating and learning in that shape).

I like sitting at round tables to eat with people, as did the early humans. But the reasons we do so are different. They needed to share the fire and cook the meat (unknowingly propelling themselves forward evolutionarily). But more and more lately, I’m feeling like I’m involved in a kind of fire circle too, one that’s pushing humankind forward to the next level. It’s the animal welfare movement.

Now that we have these highly evolved brains, we can do amazing things with them; for instance, make the world better. Like a social group of hominids around a campfire, activists and advocates within a social or political movement share resources, throw wood on the fire, bring what we have to offer to the circle, and huddle together. One person distributes leaflets for an event, another person cleans cages at the shelter. One person goes into classrooms to spread the message of humane education, another collects pet food for food banks. It’s the same feeling of camaraderie and shared purpose as the campfire.

And sometimes our successes make me feel as warmed and as fed as a hominid with a belly full of roasted mammoth.