Food matters for personal, public, and planetary well-being
To celebrate is to affirm our intentions and to know that we do not go it alone. As part of our shared ethical eating practice, therefore, we take upon ourselves the joy of sharing our success stories; both on the individual, congregational, and community level.
Where have you found learning, "aha moments," times of joy or celebration, and gratitude for what you and others have experienced as you become the change you wish in the world? Share your own story of success or learning by adding to the comments below, or contacting teh coordinator of this page, Rev. LoraKim Joyner, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Rev. Beth Johnson, President of UU Animal Ministry and Palomar UU Fellowship, Vista CA
My congregation has been slowly moving toward greater consciousness of ethical eating even before the Ethical Eating Study Action Issue was proposed. Since that time, however, the Social Justice Committee made it a priority to go through the Ethical Eating Study Manual, offering sessions for the congregation and wider community on each of the sections. Awareness of the environmental issues as well as the impact on animals has increased a great deal. There are more vegetarian and vegan options at all of our potlucks. People talk openly about the humane treatment of animals.
Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, spoke at my church while I was at GA 2011 working to get the Ethical Eating Statement of Conscience passed. When I returned 2 more people had become vegetarian. Eleven people from my congregation went to another nearby UU congregation to hear Melanie Joy speak. She is the author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. 4 more people became vegetarian that day. We will be showing “Forks Over Knives,” next month. The chair of the Social Justice Ministry team and I created a Cruelty-Free Beauty basket for our auction and it was snapped up. All these good things are exciting to witness.
The congregation knows my commitment to animals and I have been mindful to meet each person where they are and not to appear to be imposing any judgment on them. All that has occurred has happened almost organically.
It seems as though the Ethical Eating Study Action Issue opened up a space for people to talk about their food choices and to make the connection between what they eat and how our planet and other animals are affected. I can feel the consciousness changing in my church – it’s like a wave. At the same time, this movement is so gracious and compassionate, people who make other food choices don’t feel judged or condemned.
And all of this feels like grace.
From Rev. LoraKim Joyner, Community Minister UU Fellowship of Gainesville.
From the congregation
Some years members in our congregation developed a group, Voices for Animals. This group went on to organize a community wide program that brings diverse animal advocacy groups together for the benefit of all species. In addition our congregation helps host the monthly community wide vegetarian meal. We also have a garden that our children tend that yields food for our members, as well as our homeless guests who stay with us every two months as part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. All these events speak to the growing sense of food as a means to live out our values in our congregation, with our potlucks showing a greater percentage of plant based and local foods every year.
A person story
I don't know why but I just have never been very good at eating cooked green leafy vegetables. Maybe it has something to do with my mother's method of cooking of spinach, which was to open a can of slimy green spinach, pour it into a pan and heat it up, and then hover over me and my siblings until every last mouthful was eaten (or gagged out). As an adult I just learned to avoid anything with spinach in it, and also kale, mustard greens, and anything along that line.
So imagine my dismay when my spouse and fellow UU minister came home one day last year and proudly announced, "We now have shares in a local community organic garden! Every week we can eat local, healthy, and according to our values!" I almost gagged right then and there knowing that most of the vegetables we would see during the winter would be kale and the like.
Sure enough, the first weekly bag was full of fluffy green leafy things. I despaired thinking of how much of this was going to go to waste. My spouse though showed me his devious side. He added to our weekly pot of beans and regular vegetables just a tad of the menacing leaves. I love his stews so I was enticed to try the concoction. "Hey, not bad! I think I'll have another bowl!" Every week he added more and more of the leafy vegetables, and by the end of the winter our stews were mostly swimming with not slimy leaves, but wondrous objects of nutrition, taste, and joy.
It feels good to eat what is grown locally and that which is so good for me and the planet. It also feels knowing that I can change!