The Ethical Hedonist: Panic! At The Cheese Aisle

Let me begin by introducing myself — my name is Hillary Knouse and I might reasonably be called a pseudo-environmentalist. That is to say, I live in cooperative housing and abide by most of the sustainable practices that come with it.

I compost, I garden, I avoid paper towels like the plague and for nine months out of the year, I cook the vast majority of my meals without meat. On the other hand, I love driving alone in my car, I take 20-30 minute showers every morning and my brief, Lent-motivated foray into veganism last year was one of the most arduous experiences of my life (life without cheese may not be worth living).

Let me be clear though, I don’t think that being a “real environmentalist” necessitates forgoing cheese, just as it shouldn’t necessitate forgoing showers. Like anything else, it simply requires thoughtfulness and moderation — and perhaps a greater modicum of self-control in the face of a Trader Joe’s sale on Gouda.

Over the course of Lent’s 40 days, I was asked at least as many times if this “vegan thing” — as most of my omnivorous friends and family called it — would be a permanent lifestyle change for me. “Oh, God no!”  I’d answer emphatically (feeling a little judged).

“But,” I would add, in an effort to assuage the feeling of succumbing to peer pressure, “I do intend to be more thoughtful about where my food is coming from.”

Well, it’s taken me five months to get around to it but I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is and my mouth around some sustainable food practices.

Join me, dear reader, on my journey toward becoming an actualized-environmentalist, and I promise to share advice on what gets me through my I-just-want-to-put-$.99-half-and-half-in-my-coffee-and-I-don’t-care-where-it-came-from-because-it’s-7a.m.-Godammit moments, as well as a seemingly endless number of ways to cook a lentil, how to make milk out of almost anything and my musings on why butter might be better than Earth Balance.

HILLARY KNOUSE drinks locally sourced, raw milk with her S’mores Pop-Tarts, every morning. Email your questions, concerns and dinner date offers to hkknouse@ucdavis.edu.

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