In my first year of college, my English class required me to write a persuasive essay. Although being an avid fan of cheeseburgers, hot wings, and chicken alfredo, I decided to write it about vegetarianism. I knew there was a wealth of information on the subject and it would be really easy to take the side of the vegetarian, explaining why it’s immoral to eat meat. The horrible treatment of the animals shown in PETA videos basically got me the A. Of course it’s awful that chickens get their beaks blowtorched off so they don’t peck other chickens because their cages are painfully small and will kill for another inch of room. Of course that sucks. You’re right. Here’s your A.
After completing all the research, I damn near talked myself into becoming a vegetarian. The stuff I found online was truly horrific and since animals are generally kick ass (except for my neighbor’s dog) I began questioning if I should continue eating meat. But, I was eighteen years old and didn’t really give a shit about too much so I was back at Culver’s getting a double cheeseburger by the end of the week.
Since then, I’ve seen friends become vegetarians, vegetarians return to eating meat, and others going all-in and declaring themselves vegan. I’ve quietly stayed on the sidelines hammering through cows, chickens, pigs and whatever else I could find in jerky-form. I’ve done a good job of staying away from the videos of how my meat is processed and thus haven’t been guilted towards giving up the almighty burger. I even tried to sell it out of the back of a truck for an entire day.
This all started because I love beagles. I have a beagle and she’s awesome. Beagles are often used for animal testing and I’ve come across the Beagle Freedom Project which works with dogs rescued from these facilities, rehabilitates them, and then puts them up for adoption. My wonderful girlfriend mentioned how she has started only buying makeup that doesn’t make use of animal testing and I was like, “Fuck yeah.” I realized that my support for the boycott of products associated with animal testing while continuing to eat meat is pretty hypocritical. From that, I sussed out what I believe to be a pretty reasonable way to look at the meat industry. Basically, “Fuck the meat industry.”
Aside from the harm done to the animals slaughtered in large-scale meat operations, there’s the fact that it’s not well regulated. Tainted meat stories are not uncommon in the news and one kid even died from eating a burger at Jack in the Box because of relaxed regulations on the meat-selling industry. The whole industry is simply riddled with bullshit and that alone is good enough reason to boycott it.
And that’s what I figured out tonight: I don’t have a problem with eating meat. I have a problem with the meat industry.
Eating meat is natural. A chicken doesn’t have a good enough defense mechanism so it’s fair game to a human (like me). Everything eats everything in the “natural world” (meaning anything that doesn’t have to worry about bills). That’s just how it goes. You want to be alive? You have to consume things. You could limit yourself to vegetables. You could limit yourself to bark and rainwater if you like. But that doesn’t mean that hunting and killing your food isn’t okay.
Some people may say that if you think that way, then you should just kill your own meat. Carve it up, grill it on your own grill and eat the shit out of it. But I don’t want to. “Pussy!” Okay, well, I don’t want to clean out the septic tank for my apartment building either (or clean out the sewers or however that works here). That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop using the toilet. As long as meat is harvested in an acceptable manner, I have no problem with it.
How do you define “acceptable manner,” you may ask? For starters, anything that isn’t mass produced. Guaranteed, anything shipped out in multiple semi trucks is going to be pretty lax on the small stuff. Like, you know, killing the animal in a sane way (instead of just stringing them up by their legs and slitting their throats, leaving them to swing around and convulse until they die from blood loss). Or giving them a comfortable surrounding until it’s time for them to be killed (instead of packing them into stables or barns so tight that they die and remain standing).
How about cows that walk around and eat grass for their whole lives? They’re going to die eventually, right? Sure, it might be sooner than old age but killing those animals for meat is totally fine because they haven’t been terrorized since the day they were born. Like veal. Fuck veal.
Now, this is a pretty big decision. I really like meat. I’ve always thought that going without it would be impossible because of the shitty habits I’ve worn so deeply into my day-to-day life. And then I moved in with my lovely girlfriend, who is vegetarian. Since then, I’ve eaten way more vegetarian meals than I care to admit. Well, I guess I did just admit it. But, whatever. Point is, vegetables aren’t as shitty as I had imagined when I was a kid and fake meat isn’t as bad as I remember it being when I bought tofurkey brats to grill with my vegetarian roommate at a Memorial Day cookout in 2005. I’ve been eating this shit for over a half year and it’s totally fine. But, I still get meat whenever we go out of the house. So if I were to switch over to this new idea, that would have to change.
And therein lies the problem since it’s so damn hard to find meat that you can buy directly from the farm. Lately, I’ve grown fond of farmer’s markets. And what do they have at farmer’s markets? Farmers. Some of which sell meat from their farms. I haven’t spoken to one of these farmers quite yet, but when I do I believe I will find their meat meets my new criteria for previously-living food. This might be hard to do outside of Los Angeles (I have no idea since I’ve never sought it out before) but it is entirely feasible that I can make this switch. This would mean no more buying meat from the grocery store or any fast food place. Other restaurants could be investigated and sought out, but normal restaurants would have to be relegated to the Meatless Category.
It basically boils down to the fact that people that work with thousands of a particular animal become unable to see each one as a living thing. It’s just a giant mess of “work” so it gets done quickly and at the lowest cost (to the detriment of the well-being of the animal). These situations are reprehensible and awful to watch. You can keep yourself from viewing the videos, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still happening.
Also, the meat is unsafe in the extreme, and gross at best. Check this out (proceed with caution).
I’m not basing this on anything more than my need for this to be correct to make my point, but that grinded cow was definitely used for food.
I don’t see eating meat as patently immoral. I simply think the way we harvest our meat should be somewhat reasonable. This viewpoint is about three hours old now, so I guess we’ll see how I feel about it as time passes. Nothing is set in stone but I feel like I have a pretty firm grasp on what should be done. The real test will come when I get drunk this weekend and think about the taco stand. There’s always a little wiggle-room to every rule though, right?