I started some apple cider using some mealy Granny Smith apples we weren't going to eat in a slow cooker yesterday. I removed the seeds and cores of 13 apples chopping them up small, and then added roughly 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, 14ish clove buds, a bunch of shakes of ceylon cinnamon powder, and enough water to cover the apples. It cooked in the slow cooker on low for 10 hours. I mashed the apples as soon as they were mash-able to extract more of their juice. I strained it and then bottled it up for the week. I had some in place of a second cup of tea this morning. It was bland but nice nontheless.

I decided to hold off on starting another ferment for now. My partner is doing a lot of overtime at work lately and I'd rather spend the time with them. We were going to make a cake together yesterday, but ran out of time. I got a vegan/GF recipe from an instagrammer last year for a vegan/GF "Chocolate Cranberry Christmas Cake" to serve at the winter-holiday-time gathering we hosted for my partner's family (I might add a link if I ever find the post of their's). I never made it because I got distracted with preparing everything else. My partner's step-mom has celiac disease, my partner's sibling's girlfriend is vegan, and my partner's step-sister is allergic to nuts so we made sure everything was made with these criteria in mind. For this cake today, since it's just the two of us, I subbed in butter, milk, and white flour.

I used to be a "militant" vegan. I nearly died from entirely unrelated health complications five years ago, and in a moment of "weakness", I decided to try duck because I hadn't had it yet in my life and I was curious how mock duck stacked up against the bird--for some reason, knowing felt important to me. In my recovery phase, I ended up relying on consuming a lot of meat. I would like to return to being a vegetarian eventually, and I am making efforts to dig out vegetarian recipes and habits I used to rely on. My partner was a pescetarian when we met. Somehow we're here now, eating jerkies and chicken sandwiches. It all gets lost in the disruptions of moving to new places, working, trying to meet with friends/family, and carve out quiet times.

A dear friend I made recently has talked on social media about the ethical dilemmas around sourcing for vegan ingredients: all of the "fancy" alternatives, the fresh produce that aren't in-season in colder climates that get shipped halfway around the world, slave labor, inhumane working conditions. If one of the main tenets of modern veganism is to enact less harm in the world, aren't products packaged in un-recyclable plastic, products that travel thousands of miles, products that use slave/child/radically underpaid/unsafe practices labor, still harmful? I hear what my friend is saying, and I know that the fancy, rich way of being a vegan is not accessible to most folks and is actively harmful to so many other people, but it's possible (albeit difficult) to be poor and vegan if you have the benefit of choice on where your food is sourced. Beans and rice was the only meal I had seen one of my elderly, vegan co-workers at my last job consume, and it seemed to work for him and his lifestyle.

I get tighly wound up in these worries over personal ethical purity, and I have for a long time. It seems like it's a common problem for people. One of my partner's sisters has said that something that bothers her about veganism is that it feels like "a cop out", to quote her directly--that it is an attempt to remove oneself from the dilemma of having to consider how things suffer and die so that one can continue living. It's a system that we can't truly remove ourselves from as living organisms if we desire to continue living. On a microscopic level, we can't prevent our cells from destroying unwelcome interlopers in our bodies, on a human scale, we must eat other organisms or their by-products to keep our bodies alive.

I understood her argument, but I tried to talk about veganism as an attempt to reduce total harm in the world, rather than an absolute moral obligation. What she said still got to me, though, because I wanted veganism to be my moral solution so that I didn't have to think about any of it. I felt exposed. Personally, being vegan meant that I thought I didn't have to consider whether or not I believed I had a right to exist--with the implication that it was at the expense of others, whether or not I was willing to fight or kill to live. A lot of it stemmed from being a sheltered, sensitive, existentially cowardly person. I also feel like I understand animals better than I understand people, but that's an entirely different post.

I don't want to project my own reasons and experiences with veganism on other people--I respect people who ascribe to vegan diets and their choices regardless of their reasoning! I can't tell if I've lost my way or changed my mind, or if it's possible that it could both. In the meantime, my partner and I are doing our best to buy small and local whenever we get meat because we have the opportunity to do so. Today I'm making a stew with a lot of root vegetables, red wine, marjoram, sage, bay leaves, and a small parcel of beef for dinner.

I might edit this post later to include the ferment update. I have to start prepping dinner at the moment tho.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are having a good time wherever you are. See you again soon.