“Each person, human or no, is bound to every other in a reciprocal relationship. Just as all beings have a duty to me, I have a duty to them. If an animal gives its life to feed me, I am in turn bound to support its life. If I receive a stream’s gift of pure water, then I am responsible for returning a gift in kind. An integral part of a human’s education is to know those duties and how to perform them.”
Robin Wall Kimmermeir | Braiding Sweetgrass
To be human is to consume, but we do not have to do so blindly. Whether we drink the water that we need to sustain us, eat plants to build our minerals and nourishment, or take the life of an animal for our own sustenance, people consume. As Kimmermeir points out in her enlightening book, this world is a much better place when we establish reciprocal relationships, where we give back to the beings we take from. In my own diet, as a blood-type 0 and a person chronically deficient in iron, I find that my body feels much better when I incorporate meat into my diet. I do not take this lightly as I know animals not only take many more resources when growing up but also their personalities are much more prominent than a head of lettuce. As I strive to understand my role in this crazy food chain of the world, I know to truly be a conscious omnivore I must understand and respect my prey - again whether that be a cow or a carrot. This year in this nutritional journey, I have spent time at both a vegan sanctuary and at a pasture-raised cattle ranch. I am happy to find that in both these places, the animals were friendly, relaxed, and loved. By my own hand, I have been planting my own vegetables for the last few years. Growing strawberries, garlic, potatoes, herbs, squash and more have enlightened me to a deeper love and understanding of this earth. There is a knowing within me that says there is something deeply wrong with our commercial agricultural industry for both animals and for the plants. Monocultures filled with pesticides that kill the bees are not what is meant to be. So, for my own path I choose to know my cows, I choose to know my carrots, and I choose to be a part of my food circle in a way that gives back to the lives I take from. I do this by supporting the farms that are doing it right. The ones that give their cows names and let them eat fresh grass. When I buy produce that I have not grown, I support the farms that let the plants grow together in an ecosystem that enhances the nourishment as well as the lives of the plants. I stand by my growing philosophy as best I can by looking to others in the community who have more knowledge than I about the livelihood of my prey.