I'm having a bit of an ethical dilemma.
For a lot of people, the choice to purchase meat is something that weighs on them. It certainly was for me over ten years ago when I went vegan. My ethical choice defined me for the better part of a decade. I wrote online about it in a few places, but eventually I abandoned my veganism for vegetarianism when I got pregnant with my first kiddo, then transitioned back to eating meat when she was around the age of one. I have never regretted that decision, and while I eat vegan meals about half of the time, I usually include meat in our family dinners. For me, food is wrapped up in a lot of anxiety and restriction, so not adhering to a strict way of eating is better for my mental health.
Now, though, I'm having second thoughts. While the exploitation of animals is something that should be mitigated, it's the exploitation of human workers that has me rethinking my grocery order. Many meat processors are seeing rising infection rates, yet the President has just invoked the Defense Production Act to force them to stay open. It's not my intention to turn this space into a political arena. People think all sorts of different ways about what's happening, and whether or not it's a good thing to keep the meat supply coming, it does have me concerned about what I do as a consumer and how that affects my fellow Americans.
If we continue to purchase meat and provide a strong demand, does that directly contribute to the endangerment of other people? We faced the same dilemma when deciding if we should purchase non-essential items. I would say we're still struggling with that. While I believe that ordering toilet paper and coffee and cat food is essential and we need those things, we've recently purchased coloring books and new slippers. Do those count as essential? Am I endangering people's lives because I didn't want my socks to continue to get holes in them?
I debate all of this internally even as I filled my freezer with meat and frozen vegetables last week. I don't really know what to do. In this real time of crisis, the thought of completely changing the way we eat is daunting and anxiety producing. I think it's a slippery slope between trying not to consume anything and knowing that people need jobs. For now, we've landed on buying our typical groceries except for dinners, which we will make vegetarian for a bit.