What exactly does being "cruelty free" entail? If I give my money to a company who doesn't test, but is owned by a bigger company who does, am I a fraud? If I give my money to a company who doesn't test & is owned by a bigger company who doesn't test, but buys ingredients that are tested, am I a fraud? And if, IF, I buy nothing but non-tested products with non-tested ingredients from non-testing companies who are owned by bigger non-testing companies, but I eat meat...am I a fraud?
I don't eat cows, as of a couple of months ago. Mainly because they're my favorite animal. Their mile-long eyelashes and shiny black noses are my nothing short of beautiful! One of my clearest childhood memories is my baby sister & I standing at the fence of my great uncle's cow field mooing as loud as we could...attempting to trick the cows, who stood far off and stared at us like we had unicorn horns, into coming over to us. (They didn't of course.) Every so often I'll pull up next to a big truck on the highway and see those sweet eyelashes staring at me out of the gaps in the metal sides...I'll catch myself thinking, "Aw cows! I wonder where they're going." I wonder only for a second or so before I'm struck with the horrifying realization that they are most likely being shipped to some great, big, dank factory where they'll become hamburgers and steaks for the masses. I can't eat cows without seeing those eyes through metal slits on the highway or hearing my sister and I mooing. But, so far, that's where it stopped. I don't deny myself chicken, or pork, or fish...I thrive off of them, actually! But should I?
I come from a carnivorous world, my friends. The entire Southern-Midwest region of the US is a carnivorous world, if we're being honest! Growing up, my mom grilled the best hamburgers you've ever seen, tasted, or heard about on TV. She also used to make some incredible grilled chicken breast with this killer seasoning that I am consistently reminding myself to ask her about. She can grill up some meat with the best of them; her mommy in the kitchen skills are on par with, I don't know, Martha Stewart or someone. My two all-time faves that she's ever made both include meat. In fact, I don't believe I can think of a meal I've had at home, period, that didn't include some sort of meat. Probably because my mom is the world's greatest cook and my father, who is equally skilled in the kitchen, well....my father is a total steak connoisseur. His argument against vegetarianism is that God gave us animals specifically for food. (I have thus far failed to ask him why we own 2 dogs as pets, then. He's a steak connoisseur with a temper, okay?) I am sure that he would be a little less than gun-ho. Even my mother, who always has the best of intentions, would more than likely unsuccessfully attempt to hide her signature eye roll should I ever tell her I wanted to become a vegetarian. It's always seemed a noble cause to me and my cow-loving heart, but to the rest of my world, it seems to be an unnecessary inconvenience. But just because I've found it a noble cause doesn't mean I'm ready to pursue it...but should I be? (I mean, my 8th grade science teacher told us that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters so I probably should be, yeah.)
I've seen Food Inc. I survived the horror! Mostly because a summary of the film needed to be turned in for a grade, but regardless, my eyes have taken it in and my brain has processed it and I will never be able to go back now. I was terrified. Terrified of the dictator-like hand big companies play in lobbying our lawmakers; terrified of the power big companies hold in demolishing home-grown businesses purely and simply because they want to; terrified of what I'd been putting into my body for the 19 years I'd lived when I saw the film. I seriously considered it! Vegetarianism, that is. I bounced the idea around in my dome for about a week and a half until I gave up on it - veggies and organic stuff are a lot harsher on a college student's wallet than Chef Boy R Dee, you feel me? But I will never forget..."the pig scene." If you've seen the film, you will know what I mean. (You will also know that it doesn't have an official name, but my flair for dramatics has driven me to give it one.) As soon as the squeals began I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as human possibly and wished to no avail that I could throw my hands over my ears like a kid scared of the Boogey Man without the judgmental stares of about 20 other students. Even now, even when I have pushed the film and the pig scene to the very farthest possible corner of my mind for the past 3 years, it still gives me an achey chest and sour stomach just thinking about it. Even now, I've got no shortage of motivation. My willpower, though, I will certainly call into question.
This is the question I pose to you, my likely non-existent readers! Does cruelty free include your food? If you're a vegetarian or vegan, what are the tricks of the trade? How did you do it? And why?