It took me longer than I intended to find the time to think about being an Ethical Omnivore. We have CMA festival coming up in two weeks, has more information. But as part of the festival, I signed up to possibly do a workshop on the ethics of being an omnivore.
My diet is pretty light. I eat a lot of grainy breakfasts (oatmeal, a bagel, sometimes cereal) and a lot of meatless lunches (today is “shrimp-flavored” ramen, because grocery day is Friday). Dinner is my main meat meal, and even then it’s usually a small portion of meat with a huge portion of sides.
I grew up with half my plate covered in grilled steak at least 2-3 times a week. I didn’t mind it, until I became a pescatarian (eating only seafood as a meat product) for a few years. After I converted back to eating regularly, I just couldn’t stomach those huge portions of meat anymore. Even favorites like baked chicken are limited to two smaller pieces or one breast (realistic portions compared to my past).
Recently, my spiritual path has been tiptoeing to my plate. That’s where my vegetarian experiment came from, the thought that I should see how much of a difference removing meat really meant to me. I’ve also found myself working with spirit animals more, with respect from animal to animal (because I’m a human animal, not a god). I’ve found that I feel no urge to drop my omnivore habits in order to work with the animals. For example, I didn’t feel any anger or negativity from Cow when I meditated with her; instead, it felt like she was glad someone was reaching out.
I feel like spiritually and ethically it’s necessary to recognize where my foods come from. Not just meats, but plants. All creatures, all things on earth, have energy. When we consume something, we take that energy into ourselves. I gain more from eating meat when I take a moment to recognize the animal it came from.
If I had the skill and time, I’d hunt for my own meats and stock up. I think hunting is a wonderful way to give animals a fair chance at the predator/prey relationship.
Doing research, I’ve come to discover that I’m only small steps from becoming more ethical than I naturally appear to be. Taking time to research my meat sources, finding ways to get hormone-free, free-range foods… I can make a difference for myself and my spirituality.
Part of my research made me think about my recently-crafted spirit pouch and my tails. They’re made from furs, and I’m not sure how the sources treated and processed the animals. I can’t undo buying those furs, but as a pagan I can take the time now to honor Fox and Rabbit and Cow for the sacred materials I use. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s more than nothing.
Becoming an ethical omnivore is far easier than veganism or vegetarianism. It requires more research, but less of a lifestyle change. You still eat the foods you used to eat, but you check where they’re from first. It can even lead to more variety, as you research and discover food sources you didn’t realize you had access to (like a nearby butcher who sells hunted venison during hunting seasons).
I’m going to make efforts to change. I already have the ability to limit my meat intake; now I just have to ensure the meat I *do* eat is ethical by my standards. This is just one more experiment I can sink my teeth into.