Oh, Michael

Mr. Pollan talks about his food rules on NPR program "Earth Eats." Here's a snippet:

Animals die even if you eat vegetables. That is the nature of farming. There is a certain sacrifice involved. I think that, though, a limited amount of animal agriculture is really important because you know, to have a truly sustainable farm, one where you close the nutrient loop, you will need animals to do it.

The best farming systems are ones where animals and plants are put into a synergistic relationship. Animals eat the crop waste, and the animals provide fertility to the crops. Without animals, it’s hard to think that we’ll get enough nitrogen on our fields. It’s not the only way, but it’s a very important source of nitrogen.

And there are many people who don’t do well on a vegetarian or vegan diet, that for them, meat is a very nutritious food. So, I’m not prepared to give up meat. I don’t think we need to give up meat, but we certainly need to change the way we raise meat and diminish the amount of it in our diet.

I do know some vegetarians and vegans who don't really pay attention to the origins of their food (e.g. Oreos). For me, the source of my food is of the utmost importance and I always read labels, remain loyal to ecologically friendly, small food producers and always support local farmers and/or grow my own food. The reason I'm vegan: I don't really like meat and don't agree with how it's produced on mass scale. I may be slapped by the vegan police for writing this, but, if my family or friends want free-range eggs or locally raised meats, I'd be happy to buy it for them if I know where it comes from. This doesn't mean I'm going to eat it, but it's the first step in helping them to start a new ethical eating regime.

Even if you're vegetarian, be a discriminating eater and ask questions! Not just the obvious ones about the existence of animal by-products, but how and where you food is grown. It's great if we can convert some of our friends to meat-free lifestyles, but it can't be the end-all if we want to create a dialogue on and enact change to our food system.