We are what we eat and the relationship with establish with it and through it with places, peoples and beings.
Unfortunately that relationship has been broken; one of our responsibilities as permaculturists and/or social justice and environmental workers is to rebuild that relationship and help others to do the same.
Starhawk, a well known permaculture teacher and activist makes a case for us to transition to locally grown, seasonal and organic food. She also explains why she eats meat (and dairy). While her arguments for this last case are credible, they are not fully convincing to me. In order to continue eating meat and dairy products in an ethical and acceptable way, we should all have access to ethically raised and grown food or the skills, means and permits to grow, hunt or fish, which is not the case. The case is that for most of us, even those living in privileged countries such as Canada and US or some countries of the EU, we have no idea and no control over where our food comes from. In other countries, most people have no means to access meat, dairy or vegetables; let aside healthy and or ethical food!
However, her case about trying our best wherever we are and with what we have is credible. When speaking about how our relationship with food has changed she says:
“To eat, then, was not just to take in a set of chemical nutrients. It was to be in profound relationship with a place – with the energies, elements, climate, and life community of that spot on the earth – to ingest the place and become it.”
“Everything you ate would also be something you had a relationship with, that you have yourself grown and tended, gathered or hunted. All those activities would be sacred – that is, highly valued and marked by ritual and prayer and ceremony, by offering gratitude and respect for the life-forms you were culling. All food would be harvested, hunted and prepared by people who were consciously putting themselves into a thankful and loving energetic state, and the food itself would carry that energy.”
“Today, few of us have that kind of relationship with place. The food we eat has often been transported halfway across the world. It may have been grown and picked and processed by people who were exploited and suffering. It may have been doused with poisons, grown in dead and devitalized soil, irradiated. If it is factory-farmed meat, we are eating confinement and torture with every mouthful.”
We have the chance to make an statement (and, if done by enough people, making a difference) by the choices we make when we eat. Some of us may be able to do more than others, but doing our best we may even be helping those who have few choices now: because one of the reasons other peoples in the world don’t have access to food is because our insatiable habits have supported systems, wars, corporations and land grabs that have depleted and/or polluted their lands, soils and watersheds, stolen their crops, small farms and livelihoods and exchanged them for cheap labour in the slums of mega cities.
I know being vegan won’t solve the many issues we have, not even if all of us suddenly give up meat and dairy. But it is an option I can afford and try and one that I find ethical and close to my heart.
I have less than 10 days as vegan right now and it has been a challenge for many reasons:
In the next posts, I will be sharing some tips you can adopt no matter where you are or what your circumstances to increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes as well as some recipes to try new things…
Resources and references:
The Earth Path by Starhawk: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/84243.The_Earth_Path
Veganism and Permaculture by Maddy Harland: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/veganism-and-permaculture
Category: Community Gardens, Empowerment, Energy Descent Action Plan, Food Resilience, Food Security, Food Sovereignty, Mainstream Permaculture, Simplicity, Social Issues, Social Justice, Vegan, Vegetarianism