As someone who is approaching veganism in reverse, cutting out all dairy first, I have many questions that arise as I experiment with the vegetarian leap. Some people become vegans for health, some people do it for animal rights. I like many others, have started the path towards veganism with health on my agenda, yet the more I learn, the more animal rights start sneaking into the picture.
For the past year I have been cutting back on meat consumption, to the point where I now follow the Chinese principal of using meat only as a garnish the majority of the time. Each month I seem to increase my weekly ratio of vegan meals. I realize this is by no means a full commitment, but gradual changes seem to be working for my food allergy driven diet. Plus, as just happened recently, I am puzzled by the occasional dilemma.
Last week my parents held an Easter dinner for the family at their house. They put out a casual spread of the usual favorites for more of a grazing style feast. Among the offerings was the obligatory Easter ham. I eliminated processed meats such as ham from my diet a couple of years ago due to the use of nitrates and nitrites. With my current efforts to moderate my meat consumption, this was obviously a dish I opted to pass up.
However, as the evening came to a close, and the food was being packaged up, the ham (of which there were only a few slices remaining) was set in the line-up for the trash. As much as I loathe waste, there was something that bothered me even more about this leftover meat destined for the incinerator. A jolt of compassion hit, as I thought about the fact that an animal died to serve our Easter dinner.
Though I had no desire to add ham (or more meat for that matter) back into our diet, I wrapped it up and took it home for our lunches. We finished every last bite. You might be thinking, ‘isn’t this against the notion of animal activism?’ But what was worse, consuming the meat, or letting the animal die in vein? The thought of an animal’s life being taken, only to have it thrown in the garbage, was somehow more haunting to me.