Introducing: The Karma-Harmin’ Scale

Here, for your amusement, edification or shock and horror, depending on your point of view, I now present my scale for rating foods and other useful items.

A bit of backstory: I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 15 years old, so about 6 years now. 😉 😀 😛 McDoc had spent some time being veg before we met, but found it too anti-social and gave it up. He’s back into it now, thanks to my nefarious influence. He reserves the right to eat what’s available when circumstances become desparate — like when we were in Kansas. (Though when we stopped in Salina, KS [that’s Sah-LEYE-nah, not Sah-LEE-nah, you U.N.-lovin’ commie], we lucked out and found an awesome Mexican restaurant that actually had a vegetarian section on its menu. I was shocked.)

I have it as a goal to minimize my use of products that kill or harm animals. I’ve learned over the years that it’s probably not possible to 100% pure about this, that is without 1) withdrawing from many aspects of society 2) being inconvenienced to a degree that will drive you crazy unless you’re some kind of a saint, and/or 3) being a complete pain in the ass. Did you know, for example, that gelatin is used in the production of photographs? Yes, the stuff that makes a cool and refreshing, not to mention low calorie, dessert, but has the distinct disadvantage of being made from animal bones. As another example, I have managed to minimize my use of leather, but I still buy leather shoes sometimes, because the non-leather ones tend to be non-breathable and of crappy quality. And fake leather products are often petroleum-derived, which is also problematic. There’s always hemp, but it is not appropriate for every occasion, style-wise.

So there’s always the risk of hypocrisy with any ethical endeavor. I have come to the conclusion that we each have to decide for ourselves where we draw our purity line.

Note: in addition to the issue of direct harm to animal life, the Karma-Harmin’ Scale also attempts to factor in environmental and labor concerns. I’m a full-service hemophiliac liberal.

The Karma-Harmin’ Scale goes from 0 (no harm) to 10 (great harm). Here are some examples:

0: Vegetables that you grew yourself, organically, but without killing any insects. If you can manage this, a unicorn will join you for lunch.

1: Organic veggies bought at a farmer’s market.

2: Organic veggies bought at a locally-owned grocery store.

3: Organic veggies bought at Whole Paycheck Whole Foods.

4: Free-range, organic eggs/dairy.

5: Fish that you caught yourself.

6: Free-range, organic meat/poultry.

7: Factory-farmed eggs/dairy.

8: Factory-farmed meat/poultry; over-fished varieties of fish/seafood.

9: Anything at McDonald’s. Yeah, I know they serve salads now. I still will only go into a McDonald’s to use the bathroom. Here’s why.

10: A bacon double cheeseburger with a shrimp milkshake and a side of chicken tenders.

11: Veal.

Of course, this is all very subjective. But kind of fun. I think someone ought to start a chain of barbecue restaurants called Bob’s Karma-Harmin’ BBQ. It would be very postmodern and ironic, don’t you think? 😉


Introducing: The Karma-Harmin’ Scale — 2 Comments

  1. So, which do you prefer, organic, or local, if you had to choose? I’m curiously playing devil’s advocate. 🙂 I used to be a vegetarian. It began in college when my friend worked in the cafeteria and saw the boxes of meat come in labeled ‘Fit for Human Consumption’. Ummm, not for me.

    Since then, I’ve run the gamut of vegetarian, organic, local, fast food, etc. I’m at the local vs. organic, if I have that choice, right now. I do eat meat, a bit more so for my body, I think, but I know the protein is good for me. I was thinking just yesterday about starting to cook with tofu again instead, for myself at least. It’s amazing how one’s body can feel by eating right for oneself. 🙂

    Did you find a roomie for YK yet? Last I saw you were looking for one. See you soon!

  2. Just having a little fun…

    I would also include at level 5, or perhaps lower, any other critter that you (or at least a close relative) hunted. Says the guy with a bunch of deer meat in the freezer. 😛

    Wild fruit (blackberries) or other plant foods (nuts, greens, kudzu root, etc) you gather yourself would also be level 0, right? Maybe negative harm, given the hunter-gatherer esthetic?

    Oh, and where does Accidental Ingestion of Airborne Protein (i.e. swallowing a bug) fit on the scale? Does intent count? (I think karma would look at intent, no?)