The Food Trilemma

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What to eat? The question we ask ourselves at least three times a day, and no wonder we do, as we are faced with three terrible options when it comes to consumption.

Option One: live in wilful ignorance of where our food comes from. Option Two: understand where our food comes from, but continue to consume it while feeling shitty about ourselves. Option Three: go vegan.

The depressing part, is that ‘not choosing’ is still a choice – as soon as you are aware that these choices exist, continuing to pretend that they don’t is the same as picking Option One. A blissful unawareness is an unlikely reality – especially given those annoying, preachy, self-righteous vegans that make it nearly impossible to get through your degree without them intruding on the blissful state of ignorance that has served you so well up to this point.

You’ve chosen Option One if you refuse to watch unsettling YouTube videos, if you make jokes instead of engaging with discussion about food sources, or if you immediately stop reading/listening/watching as soon as the words ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ or ‘animal rights’ are mentioned. Even worse than the above, those truly dedicated to the wilful ignorance lifestyle will arrive at moral nihilism for their dietary habits, while being a normal, well-adjusted person in every other part of life.

You’ve chosen Option Two if you watch those YouTube videos, don’t eat meat for dinner that night, and find yourself agreeing with the overzealous, personal-space defying, barefoot activists – but then continue to uphold the same habits you have always held when you wake up the next day. Typically, instead of making jokes, Option Two-ers will apologetically agree, and then bring up several very impressive excuses as to why they personally are not inclined to live that way.

You’ve chosen Option Three if you lost 10 kilos, argue with your friends all the time, and take your food back to the wait staff every other time you eat out because “yes, sorry, fish is meat, and no, vegans don’t eat eggs”. You see your life as being made even harder by the incorrect choices that others make, and you therefore see it as your responsibility to reform the opinions of all those who have not chosen Option Three, and rid your community, and the world, of blissful ignorance.

So which option is best? Or perhaps I should ask, which is less shit? I suppose that would depend on who you asked. If you ask the average, budget-stifled Uni student, they will likely say Option One. If you ask the suppliers of the cheap, but wholly unethical food that is the standard fare we find on our supermarket shelves, they would probably also advocate for everyone choosing Option One. If you ask free-range egg farmers, or anyone who claims they make ‘ethical’ meat, then I suppose they would say Option Two.

But I think that if you could ask the billions of animals whose lives consist of nothing but pointless suffering, from their conception until their brutal slaughter, they would say Option Three. Future generations of humans who would prefer to inhabit a hospitable planet would also agree.

And you know what, veganism isn’t quite THAT shit (although the first few weeks can be).

To shine a slightly more positive light on the life of us Option Three-ers, you should know that one of the cheapest and most convenient places to get lunch at ANU is the Food Co-op. They make different vegan lunches every day, PLUS, you get change from a $10 note when you get lunch and a coffee. A bit further down the road, on Lonsdale Street, is the legendary Sweetbones bakery/café, and close by in Dickson you have the delicious and sometimes weird meat substitute havens of Au Lac and Kingsland. For all questions beyond where to grab a cheap and ethical bite, there is a Facebook group called ‘Vegan A.C.T – Canberra, Australia’ to help you with everything else you need to learn; including, but not limited to, how to cook, where to shop, and how to tell your parents.

Honestly, Canberra has it pretty good when it comes to ‘cruelty-free’ eating.

If this is the first time you’ve had to think seriously about where your food comes from, I am deeply sorry for ruining your day. And don’t think too much about everything else that is involved in living a cruelty-free life just yet, because then you’d be stuck with Opinion One, Two and Three for everything – from our clothing to our shower products. Oh wait. Shit.