Posted by: juliegirl | July 19, 2009

no more meat

I’m swearing off meat. I’ve been saying it for two weeks, but each time breakfast sausage comes around, I forget my decision.

I’m not becoming a vegetarian, mind you. I don’t actually want to become a vegetarian this time around. (I spent several years in college a very serious vegetarian…then I moved to New Orleans and forgoing jambalaya, fried chicken, and red beans and rice with sausage seemed a ridiculous idea.) Suffice it to say that I like local food too much to give it up entirely.

I’m not doing it because of animal cruelty, though that is a factor. And I’m not doing it to be healthier, though that will hopefully be a great byproduct.

I’m just not interested in participating in the meat industry anymore. I’ve read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and even filthy meat processing didn’t motivate me as powerfully as learning about how far away our own meat industry has moved from anything resembling animal husbandry. I don’t want to eat an egg from a chicken that hasn’t moved an inch since it was born and, out of frustration, has scratched all the flesh off of its chest. I just think that egg probably isn’t very tasty, and eating it means that I’m actively having to ignore that chicken. After taking care of my chickens so well, I can’t imagine it.

And the same goes for corn-fed beef who are miserable because they can’t digest corn, and pigs who chew each other’s tails off because they’re packed in so tight. Antibiotics are only necessary when you ignore what a cow actually is designed to eat. Hormones are only used to grow a chicken unnaturally big. All these “techniques” for raising and processing meat are designed to do it in the most profitable way possible, and I find that distasteful.

Because I was a vegetarian in college, I never quite learned to cook meat, and that means that I eat it in restaurants more than at home. But I buy my own meat at Whole Foods so I can avoid the hormones and try to get grass-fed beef. When I looked closely at that, I thought “How silly. The chinese food place doesn’t care about the hormones in chicken.” I shouldn’t be eating meat outside my home unless I know where it came from, and I should be seeking out more local alternatives to the store-bought meat. I’m inspired by the efforts of all the local farmers in Michael Pollen’s book who take pains to embrace the pigness of the pig. I’m not opposed to animal killing–I just want to know that the animals I’m eating were treated well and that their meat is good for me and in line with good animal care practices.

It’s been two weeks and I’ve had only the smallest bite of meat. It’s going just fine.

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