My favorite food used to be pepperoni, and my second any lunchmeat I could get my hands on (yep I only liked the gross meats). In my senior year of high school my boyfriend at the time got me a subscription to Hickory Farms sausage of the month club, and in college my late-night snack of choice was either a long smoked pepperoni stick or sausage patties. My family ate a lot of scrapple growing up (google it if you don’t know what it is, but it ain’t pretty), and I grew up in a green part of CT with 2 pigs (named Bacon and Porkchop) and a henhouse full of chickens. We ate both Bacon and Porkchop when I was 12.
My affinity for meat was basically a family tradition. My dad has told me that he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night needing to eat a steak, and has at least a pound of meat a day. Although now we’ve introduced things like quinoa and kale into his diet and convince him to buy organic or better yet get his steaks from the local town butcher! My older brother is a hunter, well I think he more just likes shooting things, and he is a grill master. My family goes down to his house in western PA knowing that there will be the tastiest smoked sausages and steaks that melt in your mouth. He has learned to make delicious veggie burgers for me and even stocked up on veggies and hummus for my last trip down. My younger brother also prides himself on only eating bleeding rare prime rib, and is quite the chef himself. I had a ‘vegan’ thanksgiving a few years ago and he brought a whole rotisserie chicken and ate it all himself. Meat was almost something that bound us together; those Guders and their meat.
Then I went vegetarian…and then vegan. I started watching documentaries on food and reading books, I moved to New York and Boston and learned about farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants and I became educated on what I was actually doing to my body and what my choices were telling the producers of the world. I have no problem at all if you eat meat (the 4 guys I love most in the world are among the biggest meat eaters!) but I do think everyone should learn where their meat actually comes from (is it rubbed down with alcohol to kill bacteria? has the chicken you’re eating been designed to have a larger breast bone? were those pigs tortured before they were killed? are illegal immigrants enslaved in slaughter houses?) These are just some of the things you should figure out for yourself – and learn both sides of the story. It’s important to read NPR and Fox News (ugh) because you can’t understand the whole issue and how to fight it until you know how both sides think.
After giving up meat it was a pretty straight dive into the world of eco-friendliness. I got a bike and started riding it all over town, started thinking about my energy, water, and waste habits, entered the liberal/hippie world of Columbia University and pursued a masters in sustainability, surrounding myself with big thinkers and dreamers, ready to change the world. I figured out my calling. I want to make sustainability an everyday thing. I want to make it easy for every person to make good choices and get involved with creating change. I hope you read this and know that if I can do it, YOU can start making some small changes in your life that will get this planet on a better track.
It IS easy to be green!