What do plants eat? They eat dead animals; that’s the problem. For me that was a horrifying realization. You want to be an organic gardener, of course, so you keep reading ‘Feed the soil, feed the soil, feed the soil…’
All right. Well, what does the soil want to eat? Well, it wants manure, and it wants urine, and it wants blood meal and bone meal. And I…could not face that. I wanted my garden to be pure and death-free. It didn’t matter what I wanted: plants wanted those things; they needed those things to grow.
So I sort of played a moral hide-and-seek in my mind. I was left with this realization that I could eat an animal directly, or I could pass an animal through a plant and then eat it, but either way there were animals involved in this process. I could not remove animals from the equation.
I had to accept on some level that there was a cycle here, and it was very ancient, and ultimately very spiritual. It was really hard for me to accept the ‘death’ part of that equation. It took me years to finally face it. But there wasn’t any way out of it if I was going to grow things.
(Lierre Keith, on gardening as a vegan; October 8, 2009 on Underground Wellness Radio)
I am not a vegetarian. I have eaten enough meat to feed a thousand third-world kids for ten years. But I think about it a lot. I like the idea of eating only vegetables; I hate the idea of animals dying to feed my appetite.
However: chicken, and pork, and beef (and goat, and eggs, and cheese, and mutton) taste good from time to time.
I love the advice Mark Bittman gives: be vegetarian as much you can, but don’t go crazy. Meat can be a side dish, a flavoring; it doesn’t need to be a main dish.
But the Lierre Keith piece above (which I found on Tumblr) gave me pause. She’s exactly right. There’s no escape from death. Plants love the death of animals; it feeds them. Plants love the waste and decay of the animal world.
Quite obviously, plants and animals feed on one another.
Sad, and creepy. But true. Even when you’re eating a salad.
I think the important thing is to be mindful of what you’re eating. Don’t not think about it. Don’t wolf down a cheeseburger without thinking about it. Same with a salad. Think about where the ingredients came from, and what nutritional requirements are being filled by what you’re eating.
It’s all about mindfulness.
(Oh what a priggish New Age pseudo-Buddhist nerd I have become!)