I want to start this blog with a story from 1998. At the time, I was working as a delivery driver for a company that did home delivery from various restaurants in the area. One of the places was a little burrito place that had some pretty good burritos. As our story goes, I was sent to the hotel room of a customer who had received his order incorrectly. I hated doing this because someone else had done the work and collected the tip, but it was my job to fix it on my somewhat-less-than-minimum wage hourly pay. When I arrived, he explained that his vegetarian burrito had been smothered in a sauce that had a meat broth base. No problem, the restaurant is close by, I'll fix it. I got to the restaurant, got the fixed burrito, and brought it back to the customer. The customer said he could not take it because it had been topped with cheese. I said this fit the criteria of a vegetarian burrito, and I did not see "no cheese" on the order. He explained he was not vegetarian, but vegan. I was a heathen college student at the time so of course I knew what he meant. When I asked him if he'd said he was vegan to the order-taker (people who routinely handle food requests are remarkably sharp about differing diets), he said he hadn't. He told me that he had said vegetarian because he assumed no one would understand what vegan meant. Sigh. So his failure to correctly describe his dietary needs meant that I had to go back to the restaurant a second time to get a burrito topped with broccoli, not cheese. While I was fulfilling his order, I missed the opportunity to deliver at least two, if not three orders. This guy's inability to say specifically what he wanted cost me at least $20 that night, which was a lot of money to me at the time. And now when I think about it, I wonder if the tortillas for the burrito were cooked in butter or lard. They probably were.
The point of this story is that I think we are all going to hell, at some point. Last week, I read an interesting blog post from a woman who used to be a vegan but isn't anymore. She was saying that she realized she wasn't really making sustainability on the planet much easier as a vegan: "Presenting veganism as a panacea that will stop global warming, save all the animals, and feed the starving masses is nearsighted and unfounded." It's an interesting blog post.
I don't think you can uniformly take the moral high ground in this world. For example, if you boycott Walmart for its terribly history of worker subjugation, will you boycott every small business that does the same? How do you find out these things? It's certainly not easy. I've been looking at preschools for Elizabeth, and of course I considered the preschool I went to that I loved and is only a couple miles from my house. But during the recent election, I learned that the founder and president of this preschool (which is now several K-8 schools in more than just Utah) funded some very disturbing political ads not endorsed by the candidates or parties she was endorsing. I'd rather that my money not go to that, so I don't think I'll be sending my daughter there.
Tasha (the former vegan) is right. I do not think that there is any one path that is perfect in its treatment of humankind or our poor earth. But also like she has said, I believe we still have the responsibility to do the best we can. For me, this means recycling everything I can and working to limit my garbage (and also recyclable) waste. I pledge to learn how to use the compost bin that is in my backyard and have a bigger home garden next year than I did this year. It means breastfeeding and cloth-diapering my infants and toddlers. It means feeding my family food that is as natural as possible as well as local, where available. And I have the responsibility to teach my children how to do this and why I think it is important.
Will I slip up, from time to time? Of course. I put E in disposables for six months, and I felt terrible about it. I feel better now that I'm making one or two fewer garbage bags each week, just by washing diapers and scrubbing a few of the dirty ones. It's been hard to recycle here since the city assumes you have recycling pickup, but they won't come to my mobile home complex. The dump, ironically, is the only place in the county that recycles everything. But it is my job to continue to try, and never to give up. Above all, that is a trait I would like to impart to my children.