Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eating Omily: Or Just Trying To!

Sorry for the long delay, guys!  My week in Ohio was jam-packed with pre-wedding adventures, catch-up dinners, too many drinks, and illicit activities!  So, yes, I had fun.

It's hard to feel inspired to write an Eating Omily post after spending a week dancing through hoops of proccessed foods, tortured meats, and imported veggies, but ultimately a woman's got to eat!  What do you do when you find yourself in that same situation?  I'm hoping I can give you some useful tips.  Whether you're visiting family, or absolutely starving in a virtual restaurant-free zone, there are going to be times when following your own ethical/nutritional guidelines is just not possible.  Here's how I handle it:

Most important thing: Do your best, then let go of guilt.  The fact is, pineapple is not the problem: the ubiquitous availability and cheap price are!  The same goes for beef, cheese, etc.

Know the priority ranking of your values:

Not torturing animals for my food is way up there for me, so if there's a vegan option, I'll always take it, even if it means not quite filling up my tummy, or a slightly less healthy choice (in small town Ohio, that's far more common than it would seem).

If you're planning on eating out, suggest Mexican!  Since beans are such a big part of the cuisine, it's a pretty reliable choice for finding a vegetarian option, and asking them to hold the cheese and sour cream makes it vegan!
And besides, who doesn't want to have a margarita with this guy??  Yes, for real, in a Mansfield, Ohio Mexican restaurant.

Another option that can get overlooked is seafood: I'm pretty confident shellfish don't do much suffering; their brains are just not complex enough, so for me, they're kind of a loophole.  And it doesn't hurt that I love mussels, clams, shrimp, all of it! I try to avoid farmed salmon, but I'd rather eat that than pork, which is raised so grievously commercially.

On the other hand, respect and compassion for the human beings in front of me is a really important value, too.  So if I look around and realize there are no veggie options at a family cook-out (and, no, Kroger's does not stock 100% pastured beef), I'll express my gratitude, and eat the burger.  If the conversation works around toward meat quality, etc., I can take the opportunity to mention how much tastier and healthier burgers made from cows who live outside and eat grass all their lives are. 

In our effort to change the world, never forget that good will is more powerful than guilt, and love is more powerful than fear.

Don't slip into the "Well none of this is healthy so it doesn't matter trap!":

That's how I wound up eating oatmeal creme pies for breakfast twice.  GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, the whole nine yards.  The highly sugary instant oatmeal with growth hormone milk was a better choice, though at the time the whole situation felt hopeless.

Hot Tip:  You can almost always find an apple and peanutbutter!

Offer to help shop and cook!  If you buy it yourself, you can makes choices in line with your values, and if it's your money and effort, no one else can complain. Even if you're shopping yourself, you may find limited selections of local or torture-free products.  Don't panic: just do your best.  Choose organic, look for fair trade, choose wild-caught shellfish over red meat or chicken, and when you bring your bounty home, talk about your choices and why you made them.  Don't miss a teachable moment!

How do you handle situations where none of the edibles around you are in your daily diet?  I've focused mostly on ethical concerns, the same can go for nutritional ones.  If I ever have to eat another iceberg lettuce salad with deep-fried clam strips it will be too soon...

Well, ok, truthfully I kind of love deep-fried clam strips...

~em

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