Monday, June 28, 2010

numbered (meat-eating) days

time is going by so fast right now. i will refrain from saying it but you all know the cliche phrase that i'm thinking. tomorrow i'm going to the summer house for three whole weeks, then i have a week off and i'm going to istanbul. then nine days left in amsterdam, the first five of which i am looking after the boys while the parents are out of town. and then four days of freedom. so that only leaves technically six days (because when i have the boys i won't really be able to do my own thing) for me to soak up as much of this lovely city as possible. how did this happen? although it's coming to an end, i feel very ready to be back home. and i feel especially ready to be done with this job, HOLY SHIT YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN. it's not that terrible but i just can't wait for freedom. but of course i will be sad to say goodbye to amsterdam.

in other news, i've decided to become a vegetarian. well not yet, but when i move back to vancouver - i figure that while somebody else is making my dinners i should probably just appreciate that and suck it up for about one more month. i have frequently considered becoming a vegetarian in the past but have never felt ready to actually commit. it's sort of funny what solidified this decision for me now; it was at the world press photo exhibition (did any of you see it this year?). well there was one particular series that revealed the happenings of a slaughterhouse. inevitably, the photographs were quite graphic, and in fact, managed to capture the expressions of fear worn by some of the animals prior to being slaughtered (perhaps one would argue that i'm personifying the poor creatures too much but look at the photos yourself and tell me you don't see fear in those eyes!). the series really conveyed an eery feeling, almost as if it were out of a horror film. but despite the effect these photos had on me, what really got me was the caption. it read: Neatly packaged meat in supermarkets is often completely detached in consumers’ minds from the process of its production. of course this is no news to me and neither were the images for that matter. but for some reason, that statement, so simply put, made me feel extremely foolish. us humans, myself very much included, are so easily able to tune out the part of the story we don't want to hear. cliche phrase number two - ignorance is bliss. but how can we call it ignorance when the process of slaughtering animals is arguably common knowledge? all of a sudden it became clear to me that my already 90% veggie diet could live without 10% meat. i suppose this commitment is pretty easy for me seeing as though i don't crave meat, and in fact, lately i've been pretty turned off of it. i've come to realize that when i think i'm craving meat i.e. i'm drooling at the thought of butter chicken, it has nothing to do with the actual chicken but instead it's the flavor of the sauce that i want. if it were butter tofu i would be just as happy. so why not substitute one for the other? conscious eating is a new goal for me. it's a tough one though, for two reasons. one is that i tend to be a sucker for convenience and secondly, we aren't given a whole lot of information in the grocery store. just because something may be 'locally grown' doesn't necessarily mean that the production process was environmentally friendly and efficient. we often know nothing about the production and therefore ignore the issue altogether and instead feel good about ourselves for eating local.

i really don't like it when people condescend others for things like not being a vegetarian so just to silence some of your worries, this doesn't mean that i will now judge non-vegetarians and think they are terrible people for continuing to eat meat. we each pick our own battles and we all have different priorities, so it's okay. after all i am still technically a meat eater myself. i must say though, i'm not looking forward to the countless explanations i will undoubtedly have to give about my reasons for being a vegetarian. i've sat through one too many of those conversations with friends where i've secretly been relieved that i'm not the one trying to explain myself. now it's my turn.

i came across an old article from Granville Magazine and i thought it was a good read. it's about the cuts made to arts funding in BC a few months back. the author attempts to remind us that art is actually a valuable part of our culture and contributes to our communities on several levels. here is the end of the article where she addresses misconceptions about the cultural industries.

"Art and culture are public amenities and need public investment. We aren’t talking about a painting that you might or might not like, and if you like it you buy it. We are talking about an investment in our shared culture, in public spaces, in cultural production of all kinds—some of it immaterial, all of it supporting larger ecosystems that create and inform things like our shared identity, the nature of our dialogues, our approaches to life and experience.

These are larger and more complex fields of activity than a one-to-one relationship between an object and a purchaser.

10 points to address common misconceptions about the cultural industries:

1. Artists are not spending their time at champagne soirĂ©es at the taxpayer’s expense. Artists are among the most underpaid professionals in our society.

2. Culture is an industry, not something that just “happens.” You’re thinking of people who make pictures of owls using bottle caps.

3. Art is not about artists—it is about communities and culture. This discussion is not only art, it is music, dance, film, heritage, publishing, video, media, sound, design, theatre, creative youth programs, social outreach, community festivals, animation, fashion.

4. Culture is not a hobby. Running the Children’s Festival or arranging an international visual art exhibition is not something we can do in our spare time.

5. Just because you usually experience the effects of our work in your spare time doesn’t mean we produce it in our spare time.

6. Artists are not “fancy.” Art is a hugely important part of our shared culture. Were the cave paintings fancy? Do you like written language? Have you ever seen a movie or worn a nice shirt or walked through a public space?

7. Even if you don’t like the art, understand what the art is, or know what is involved in making it, that doesn’t mean it has no value, or that it isn’t part of an economy, or that the person who produces the art should do it for free. Most people’s jobs are a mystery to people outside their industry, and no one questions the validity of those jobs or suggests that their children could do them better. Do we raise those questions about people who work in helium detection, vine training, or indoor advertising management?

8. The provincial grants we’re discussing do not entirely pay for the operations of these cultural associations, so extract the word “parasite” from your economic counter-argument. These grants represent a small but crucially important portion of total support and income for a range of organizations. The amount of money being cut from the provincial budget that will be so crippling to the arts community represents only 1/20th of 1 percent of the total provincial budget. To put it in perspective, the contingency fund for the 2010 Olympics is more than twice this amount.

9. People in these industries work hard, hold jobs and have families. Artists support themselves through their art and their work.

10. Was there a reason you chose to live in a city and not in a closet? Do you want to be from somewhere?"

(full article here)

two more things. alison (roadburg) has a layover in amsterdam early tomorrow morning and we're meeting for coffee and i'm very excited about that.

and...HOLLAND WON LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!! this city was out of control. i took loads of photos but unfortunately my camera is dead and my converter appears to be malfunctioning. so this will have to be a future post.

i never know how to sign off on my posts because i sort of feel like i have just written a group email and therefore should conclude it with a 'miss you all so much, love tor' or something otherwise it feels like an abrupt ending. but i'm not going to do that every time so, this is it. xx


Lauren said...

what an amazing account tor. reading this made me (again) so proud of you. not because you are becoming veg, even though you know i am fully in support of that, but because you just are such an amzing thinker and doer. i've been hearing a lot about the bc arts cuts. especially because of carol and michael katz who are so involved with art in vancouver (publishers). it is all a huge piss off. art grows the spirit. why is that so hard to understand and support?!
i have been swimming in local eats here. visiting the farmers market 2 sometimes 3 times (gasp!) per week. haven not actually stepped into a grocery store in some time, and it feels great. the farmers have actually come to be quite friendly with me, exchanging jokes and freebies. we know eachothers names. makes eating food a totally new and exciting experience for me.
lots more to share with you in a message soon.
this is it. xx

Emilie Jasper-Petry said...

The self-explanation sessions aint so bad Tor. if you really care about the person, it's nice to share (and to receive) a side of you that represents some kind of slice of identity, you know?

...but as for those assholes that just want to start shit at a high school reunion party, you can just shut up their overly probing questions with "At least my body is not a graveyard."

Veggie side-note, I went to Vermont this past weekend to stay with Julie and her fam (each of whom of 6 I am equally in love with!) and most of them have been vegetarians since they were born. They were given the choice once they were able to make decisions, and some have since eaten meat now and again, but for the most part the Rubbins-Breens eat veggily and locally. It was very inspiring to eat with life-longers, and they had some mean veggie burger recipes! So many options! I'll have to get the best ones and post that shit up on here.

Long story short, be proud of your choices and don't be afraid to return whatever is served your way! (be it unrequested pepperoni on a slice or choice-hassling fuckers! )

Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clark said...

tor, i saw the world press photo exhibit on the slaughter house. although i need absolutely no reminder of my decision to not eat meat, i find i am being confronted with them more and more these days. those photos evoked the same feelings in me. i don't think i've ever felt an animals pain like i did when i saw the photo of the pig peering over his shoulder. that imagine is burned in my mind.

i watched a documentary called earthlings a while back. i'm not sure i would even recommend it to anyone, it was so hard to watch.

and lastly, i just starting reading eating animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. i've been hearing really great things about it, maybe it will be your very first veggie book!!! (i'm guessing?). I'll let you know how it reads!

The point is, I haven't been seeking these things out. they have just come to me. and as a result answering the question of 'why' to people is becoming so much easier and kind of exciting! so get excited!!

and lauren, i am also seriously digging the local eats right now! i'm excited to get a better taste of van this year, see you both in september,

Tor said...

you guys are seriously the best. wanna meet at bagel etc for breakfast in an hour?