Friday, August 2, 2013

Chicago, Badlands-bound, & Rant

I fell behind in blogging the last week, so I'll slowly post a description of our adventure as soon as we get some internet in our new apartment. This is the only post I wrote on the road and I wrote it while feeling passionate about some principles that mean a lot to me. If you don't care to hear about vegetarianism, I'd suggest you skip the last two paragraphs.

Our Chicago host

After we left Chicago we made the 6 hour drive to visit family members in Stillwater, Minnesota. My uncle lives just on the boarder of Wisconsin and Jon's family lives in Stillwater, so it was a great meeting point for everyone.

Old mill in Stillwater

Stillwater is an adorable town just outside of the twin cities. It's the oldest settlement in Minnesota, and has a lot of old time charm. The building facades speak of years of stories and the booming antique stores are quaint and interesting. We met everyone for dinner at a pub along the water next to the only bridge from Wisconsin into Stillwater. It was great catching up with my uncle and his wife, and to get to know Jon's family members better. It was, for the most part, a quiet and relaxing evening.

Corgi host

We got up early that next morning to Badlands National Park in South Dakota, where I'm typing this now in the car. The scenery for the most part is typical farmland, but Jon and I just witnessed one of the saddest things I've seen in a very long time. In front of us, for about five minutes, was a truck towing a large shipment of large, plump, alabaster turkeys, presumably to the slaughterhouse where they'll be prepared for consumption. Feathers flew at us periodically as we watched one of the birds in the top right-hand corner flailing in vain to stand up, get comfortable, or possibly escape.

I rarely ever preach my vegetarian principals, and hardly consider myself someone to push my beliefs on other people, but there was something sincerely sad, desperate, and slightly horrifying about those turkeys. Jon, the man who's eaten every and all types of meats, commented on its sadness, and it just got me thinking about this country's diet and reliance on meat. I understand that humans evolved to eat meat and that it typically is an intrinsic part of our diet, but the fact that we, as Americans, have the luxury to make choices about what we eat and how often, seeing those turkeys made me wish that more people made the conscientious choice to eat less meat. To have bacon in the morning, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and then chicken for dinner is eating a lot-- more than we need-- of animals. Our bodies don't need that much protein and the carbon emissions and waste that is manufactured in order to get that piece of ham on to our plates is astronomical, but Americans have conditioned themselves in believing that this type of over-abundant luxury is preferred and, and some believe, a necessity.

I'm not asking everyone to become a vegetarian or vegan today, tomorrow, or even a year from now. I just wanted to express these concerns of mine, and hope that they get you to start thinking about what you eat and how it affects you and the world around you.

Little bunny adventurer

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