Standing behind the BriarPatch Co-op Community Market's meat counter, 28-year-old Marc Mongiardo appears to be an ordinary grocery store butcher " though his lifestyle is guided by a philosophy of excluding the use of animals for food, clothing or any other form of consumption.
Mongiardo is a vegan.
"Being a vegan requires less energy to feed than it takes to feed someone who eats meat," Mongiardo said, eating his lunch of fresh garden greens. "It takes more resources to raise a cow versus growing beans and vegetables. On a global level, being a vegan helps conserve energy. On a personal level, I feel more energetic after not eating meat."
Living according to his vegan views for the past five years, Mongiardo continues his work as a butcher in hopes of educating meat consumers about the benefits of consuming less meat and of eating naturally produced meat.
"I know I live in a world where most people eat meat, but I feel that being a butcher for natural meat allows more options," Mongiardo said. "If everyone in the town ate natural meat, they'd be better off because there's no hormones, antibiotics or chemicals in natural meat."
BriarPatch carries eggs from Country Rubes Farms in Grass Valley and Nevada County free range beef from Nevada City, as well as an assortment of other meats produced in Northern California. These local, naturally produced meats are healthier because the animals eat grass, creating leaner, less-fattening meat, Mongiardo said.
"If I can at least educate people about the benefits of natural meat, I feel like I can actually have some influence on the whole animal situation. It's a small way of being active on the issue on a community level," he said.
The former carnivore began with tentative experiments in living the vegan lifestyle, but the vegan philosophy has become his passion.
"I feel like the process of people eating meat is going to be present no matter what," Mongiardo said, slipping into his white butcher's apron. "By cutting meat and knowing what it is, it helps reinforce the reasons why I am a vegan."
To contact Staff Writer Lindsey Croft, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4247.