I love food. Beyond real estate and writing, food may well be the top thing I can’t get enough of. I love reading about food, writing about food, cooking food for my family, and, of course, eating food.
Recently a friend of mine has been sharing photos of her meals on social media, and let me tell you, she is cooking up some gorgeous plates! I saw her yesterday, and I asked her about the photos, and her adventures in cooking.
As I prepared to make that inquiry, I realized that I was afraid.
The reason I was afraid was that her photos were tagged #wholefoodplantbased.
And to me that suggested that she had some reasons for shifting her diet toward a plant-based one… and that I might become uncomfortable in learning those reasons.
Luckily for me, she didn’t get too graphic about her reasoning (treatment of animals being one of them) yet she did share a little bit of information about milk.
Before I go on, please know that I am not going to share anything graphic here.
I have extremely mixed feelings about this subject (treatment of animals and what that means for the kinds of foods we eat) and will strive to walk that fine line between:
a) burying a challenging subject and pretending it doesn’t exist, and,
b) traumatizing you without your permission through explicit details.
What I want to say about the issue of milk is that her comments cued my brain to the simple truth that mammals produce milk for their own babies.
Duh. I’m a mother. I nursed my kid. I know this.
So when we drink cow’s milk, that is milk which was biologically created for that particular cow’s offspring. This matter should be obvious, and yet I’m here to admit that I had not previously thought about it.
In doing so, I realized that I have many questions. Questions such as:
What happens to the calf?
Does it get some of its mother’s milk too?
Is this milk I’m putting into my latte “extra?”
What is the consequence of my latte?
Will I be comfortable with the answers to these questions if I pursue finding them?
What really strikes me is the fear that I have around learning the truth. A huge part of me does NOT want to learn the answers to these questions.
Likewise, when I brought the subject up to my husband last night, his response was strong and immediate. He wanted to shut the topic down before I had a chance to say anything that might break his heart. I sympathize and relate. We both love animals.
I did not want to break his heart, nor did I want to break mine.
And yet isn’t it interesting that our immediate reactions suggest that on some level we KNOW that there’s funny business going on behind our food production?
And we KNOW that uncovering the truth comes with a high risk. The risk is that we will have to make a truly informed decision about how we eat.
And it’s SO much easier to remain in the dark.
The lesson here for me is not actually that there is something nefarious happening behind my weekly latte (which I’m skipping it this Saturday, for what its worth.)
The lesson is that we humans have a unique ability to knowingly protect ourselves from having to make tough decisions. We instinctively know that some things are safer to be left in the dark. That doing so will make our lives easier, simpler, less painful.
And yet deep down, we know.
We know that there are truths out there which, if brought to light, would change us.
In a different post, I told you how I avoid most news, because I don’t want to be distracted and depressed by sensationalism and things over which I have no influence.
And last night, my husband brought that up. He reminded me of a time in the not-so-distant past where I asked him to please not share news and photos of a certain Syrian child who lost their life in the process of his family’s attempts to escape their country.
And what I told him was that the reason I didn’t want to see and read about that was that it made me want to pack my bags for Greece and DO SOMETHING to help the rest of the refugees who were pouring onto island shores. (And given that I speak Greek, this idea was not *entirely* ridiculous.)
Yet we knew it was not going to happen. Our family was not ready for that kind of sacrifice and upheaval. Tragic photos or no tragic photos. And in knowing this reality, seeing the photos and hearing the distressed talk would only cultivate a sense of mental helplessness and distress.
Conversely, information regarding the origins of the food that I procure for myself and our family is useful in the sense that I have a simple and immediate power to make changes to our consumption patterns, based upon what I learn.
But the fear is that I will not like it.
That it will be hard.
That people who are important to me will disapprove or be upset.
And so the easy thing to do is turn a blind eye, avoiding information that would compel me to want to make those decisions.
The real questions are: