I often find myself annoyed by the environmentalist type so caught up in what they're "doing" that they wonder around stomping on others without realizing it. Often, they'll look at others doing various projects with a distinctive air of superiority reeking of smug. There's a word for them: assholes.
For roughly 3 years now, I've been vegetarian. Fin turned to the vegetarian path not long after for her own reasons. And now, after 3 years of towing the hippy not-quite-vegan line, I'm scarfing steak, jerky, and chicken soup. Well, sortof, I'll get into that later.
When making an active attempt to build/create a different lifestyle, it's pretty easy to get caught up in your own shit. Next thing, a long look in the mirror and it's pretty obvious you've joined ranks with the asshole crowd. I'd like to think 3 years of being vegetarian would be a net-win for the environment. Now, it looks more like a distraction than anything meaningful.
Before jumping into the asshole camp again, let me say if that's your thing, kudos to you. I've done it long enough to know how much it can suck living in a world tailored around veggies as side-dish only. Going out to eat is near impossible, parties tricky at best, and often meals require substantial backup planning. A vegetarian diet isn't easy. Of course, you can look in the mirror and say - "I haven't supported factory farming today."
Well, not really. You haven't support factory MEAT farming. That load of chips? Factory. That veggie burger patty? Factory. That bottle of ketchup? ... The list goes on.
From a "sustainability" culture standpoint, Fin and I made some big mistakes while we were vegetarian. Instead of meat, we ate meat substitutes grown with fairly traditional agriculture, occasionally slapped with an organic label, and then thrown into the super-market complete with easy-plastic packaging. Making one big decision led us to cheating on hundreds of day to day decisions in food purchasing.
After some substantial discussion as to pro/con on being vegetarian and other general dietary choices, Fin decided to leave the vegetarian camp, and I decided to follow her. We also decided at the same point to only eat meat after doing some homework to insure the farm treated its livestock with dignity. In practice, this leaves eating out mostly vegetarian. I'll leave it to Fin (or at least another post) to fill in the details.
When researching local farms, farmers markets, and coops though, Fin and I saw the local community in a new way. There's a fairly good number in the metro area dedicated to the ideas of local agriculture and sustainability. Organic or no, a quick search finds multiple producers nearby.
Of course, we knew about the local farmers markets, but the reality of our food choices became clear. Our vegetarian lifestyle didn't include supporting the local markets, it just continued feeding the Walmarts of the world more profits for overpriced 'organic' goods.
In short, sometimes multiple small and continued gestures can do more than a concentrated grand gesture. Something to keep in mind for our next effort.