Everything in Moderation

I have officially been a graduate candidate in the field of Food Studies at Chatham University for three weeks. The weeks have been packed with scholarly articles, discussions of Marx and the capitalist system, as well as insight into exactly what a healthy diet looks like. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot. Perhaps my most interesting insight, however, is my adoption of the belief of everything in moderation.

After my semester in Uganda, I was convinced that a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle was the means by which I could feed the planet. Okay, not by myself, but you get the idea. I did a lot of research into the relationship between world hunger and meat consumption, and the findings were mind-blowing. So many of our resources are going to produce more beef, poultry and dairy than we will ever need! We’re destroying our environment, producing tons of grain that is being used as feed, rather than feeding people and the stories coming out of industrialized farms will have you thinking second thoughts about taking a bite out of that cheeseburger.

My Toto in Uganda making ground nut sauce. It's harder than it looks!
The facts are there, and they’re astounding. As a society we’re eating more meat now than ever before in history. Our obesity and diet-related disease rates have sky-rocketed and yet, there is still so much need. It is true, a global vegan diet would free up vast amounts of our precious resources and supply enough food to feed the entire world. The problem is, (and I hate to admit this) a global vegan diet would not feed the world. For the past 3 years, I’ve been completely ignoring the small matter of distributionNot because I wasn’t aware it was a problem, but because it was a much larger issue than I wanted to try and tackle. By simply focusing on the ethics of a plant-based diet, I could propose a positive solution without trying to devise a strategy to grapple with the massively unequal and unjust distribution system in our world.

Think about it. Our government is funding farmers through agricultural subsidies NOT to produce food because of the surplus we have in this country. Meanwhile, 25,000 children worldwide die EVERY DAY from malnutrition and deficiencies. This is the world that we live in.

So yes, if you want my opinion, it is completely unnecessary from a dietary and ethical standpoint to eat meat at every meal. It is completely unnecessary to eat meat every day. But will I grab a slice of turkey at the Thanksgiving table or have a hearty seafood dinner when I’m vacationing at the shore? You bet! Because the truth is, if I truly desire to feed the world, I must figure out how to overcome this socially unjust global food system we’ve found ourselves in. I’ve got another two years- I’ll let you know what I find out!

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