I’ve been a piscotarian now for 2 years now, i.e. vegetarian plus I eat seafood. The reasons for it are many; At the time I had subconsciously started to cut down in meat because I loved vegetarian food for it’s taste and it felt better for my digestion and energy. I always thought it would be cool to try it out sometime and when I met my friend Jake, who’s a vegetarian, for the first time when he was visiting Iceland I got inspired to finally do it. There are very few vegetarians in Iceland, and even fewer vegans (I don’t know anyone personally and we don’t even have an Icelandic word for vegan and believe me, in Iceland we have Icelandic words for pretty much everything). I found out that I began to eat healthier and with more variety. I also started to be more interested in the environmental and animal care aspects of it as a result and have been reading a lot about the Slow Food movement, permaculture and more.
Meat production includes extensive use of natural resources, contribute to air and water pollution, and “Animals fed on grain need more water than grain crops. In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1.The result is that producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits for direct human consumption.” (wikipedia)
Then we also have the animal care side of it. Today we live in the illusion that our meat comes from happy farms with happy animals, but the cold fact is that most often it isn’t so. Industrialization of agriculture has lead to this mass production lines of meat where the animal is just another product and the goal is to make more meat, faster and cheaper. If you haven’t seen Food Inc. I recommend you do to get some reality check.
I could go on and on about the things that disgust me in Food Inc. Like the total lack of any emphasy towards the animals, the workers or consumers by the companies, the corruption in the government towards these issues, the patents on GMOs is really frightening (and Monsanto again gets the price of being the most inhuman and unethical company in the world). Just how the animals are treated made tears come to my eyes…
I’ve been wanting to believe that things are better in Iceland. We have this clean energy and nature, maybe all our farming is organic as well? Well, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that sadly that’s not the case… but most Icelanders still live in this happy farming myth. And the worst part is, that we don’t have many alternatives from this factory farming. All pork in Iceland comes from these factories where the pig mum never sees it’s piglets and can’t even move. The piglets grow up in a contained area, the male piglets are castrated without anesthesia and often their tales are cut of to prevent infection. When there is an infection the piglet is shot with anti-biotics, that have been found to be contaminating to humans who eat the meat. All chicken farming is factory made as well, where they’re grown with these big breasts and so fast that they’re body can often not keep up so they can’t even stand in the small cages the live in. Many of this sounds familiar if you’ve watched Food Inc. And even though the farming in the US can be even more cruel, the whole food system more corrupt and less workers ethics, there is at least a very good organic market there as well. In Iceland we can buy “environmental friendly” eggs, where the chickens can move around, but they still never see the sunlight and not very pleasant environment. At some farmers market sometimes you can buy eggs from the oldest chicken breed in Iceland (Landnámshænur) and they come from the few original farms we have left. The cow farming is better, though we have no organic cow farming, and of course the Icelandic lamb is pretty organic, it lives out on mountains for almost all it’s life span. Still most Icelandic farmers rely heavily on chemical fertilizer and oil so most of it is not certified organic, but we still have a market for that.
I recently got this wanting for meat (it’s maybe the third time it has happened during my 2 meatless years) and I’ve decided to start eating Icelandic lamb again. Just once in a while, I could never eat meat every day, because of all the combined reasons above.
Here’s the chicken who lay our brown “environmental friendly” eggs: