Whole Life Magazine

October / November 2016

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/732294

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Page 41 of 43

Photo by Travis Weedon 42 wholelifetimes.com A s soon as we moved to California, my partner and I became vege- tarians. Actually, it happened just slightly before. We were in the process of moving, driving our things down from Portland to our new home in Ojai. Neither of us were planning to become vegetarians again. She and I had both done it before, for a few years even. But, for one reason or another, it had eventually fallen by the wayside, and we started eating meat again regularly. The lively, rich food culture in Portland has a way of making any dietary choice feel health conscious. It caters to all varieties equally. Even the fast food niche has its more sustainable and local option in the Burgerville franchise. For meat-eaters, labeling to assuage the conscience abounds with promises like free-range, pasture-raised, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, organic, non-GMO, etc. etc. etc. With assurances like that, why not go for a little extra protein with your meal? However, this way of thinking changed for us as we drove south down Interstate 5. Like many people traveling through the San Joaquin Valley for the fi rst time, we smelt it before we knew who dealt it. We looked back at the dog, a little accusatory and a little worried at the same time, but quickly decided it was far too pungent for our little girl. It was defi nitely blowing in from outside, so we hurriedly put up the windows. Then we saw it… and saw it… and saw it. It was astounding. A Google search verifi ed that we probably saw over 100,000 cows milling about an 800-acre feedlot. It wasn't necessarily the inference of mass slaughter, although that thought wasn't far from our minds. It was more the sheer enormity of this collection of large mammals. Such a concentration that could produce such a stench. Such a concentration that it could dominate the view for several minutes going down the highway. All the eating and excreting needs of those animals artifi cially imposed on that one spot. The same stretch of highway alongside Harris Ranch inspired Michael Pollan to do more research into factory farming, ultimately producing that hallmark of the sustainable food movement, The Omnivore's Dilemma. Similarly, for my partner and me, it was the immediacy of that experience that made us want to question the backstory of our own food. The diffi culty, at least at fi rst, is to keep that immediacy alive, to keep that pang of conscience we felt at that moment present during our meals. And, it can be a struggle, for eating is an immediate experience in and of itself. It's an unconscious drive. The body needs to do it, with or without the mind's say-so. Eating isn't an act of intelligence; it's an act of instinct and sensation. But so was seeing that stretch of feedlot. It took only instinct and sensation to know something wasn't right there. Feedlot and slaughterhouse visibility is the greatest advertisement vegetarianism has. As Paul McCartney famously said, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." backwords TAKE A DRIVE DOWN THE 5 By Travis Weedon The Best Ad for Vegetarianism in California

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