I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with vegetarianism since university, mostly aligning myself with the Peter Singer school of thought. I usually cave when there’s a bottle of beer in my hand and chicken wings on the table, or a glass of shiraz in my hand and filet mignon on the menu, but that’s pretty much it. I haven’t had pork in over a decade — watching the trucks full of innocent piglets turn into the abattoir on my way to work every morning (yes, for some reason there’s a slaughterhouse in downtown Toronto) makes me cry inside, plus I’ve always maintained that pig tastes like human … I know, I know, I’ve never tasted human, but just consider this next time you sink your teeth into a pork chop or ham sandwich and you will totally know what I mean.
But while I don’t want animals to suffer, I do believe in small-scale, family-operated farms with cows grazing in the fields and chickens running around spacious coops; animals who are slaughtered quickly and humanely without being transported long distances and made to walk up ramps with the smell of death everywhere. I think it’s natural to eat eggs and dairy too, as long as it’s hormone-free and not genetically modified.
My family has always tried, whenever possible, to get what we affectionately call “happy meat” — that being of the free-range, preferably organic and local variety (actually, there’s a farmer across the pond who calls it this, too). My parents have a great relationship with the cute boys down the street at Oliffe, and I always try to stop by The Healthy Butcher or Cumbrae’s. But I don’t even eat very much meat to begin with (probably only once every week, tops) because I understand its toll on the environment, from the methane to the land required for not only the animals but their feed — on a side note: there’s a fantastic documentary coming out soon called King Corn, which will make the most die-hard Big Mac addict swear off corn-fed beef for good.
So to make a long story short (too late): I’m officially restricting myself to free-range, hormone-free and, when it comes to the cows, grass-fed meat. I’ll also make an extra effort to see that it’s local. In terms of fish, I’ll ensure it’s not farmed and not endangered, but that’s about it for now. And no exceptions to any of the above for restaurants.