I am a meat eater, and am unapologetic for that. I have been a vegetarian in the past, and can forgo the luxury of meat with little to no notice. My main reason for not being a complete vegetarian is simply a social one. I believe that food is cultural and a sharing a meal is a form of social bonding. If my entire family and social circle were to sudden become vegetarians, it would probably take me a long time to notice. But since they are not, I eat meat along with them. I find it hard to reconnect with my family or friends when I don’t share full in meal, by opting out of certain portions. This is a personal feeling, and is probably a result of my opting out of other shared traditions.
I think there is huge value in viewing food as a cultural vehicle. When companies like Nestle and Pepsi, companies who are notorious for providing cheap, nutritionally void and environmentally disastrous snacks, design their marketing campaigns, they actively work to destroy the notion of food-as-culture and replace it with a food-as-convenience attitude.
When food is simply convenient, and not something that most people want to think about, people want to be cheap and abundant. If we don’t care about preparing a meal for ourselves, it’s not hard to stop caring about how food is farmed. When its too much of a hassle to spend a few hours once a week to prepare a meal, its not hard to see why there is so little motivation to devote the time necessary to research and source your food. This leads to the rise of factory farms that can produce massive amounts of food quickly and cheaply, and results in an unwillingness to test GMO crops that are toxic and appalling situations for livestock.
This week, Rolling Stone sent out an expose regarding animal cruelty in the meat industry. The video in the articles are hard to watch, and the slick, blood spatter style graphics presenting statistics about animal deaths contribute to overall creep factor.
Rolling Stone can add as many sepia toned photos framed by animated lipstick red blood as they want and I will not be shocked that animals die for meat. (In fact, I am mildly offended by the cartoonish-ness of the blood.) The fact is I am not squeamish about the simple fact of animals dying to feed humans, just like I am not squeamish about animals dying to feed other animals. It’s a part of how things eat. I am not committing this callousness to text in order to prove something to you about my iron hard resolve or even to call out Rolling Stone on its sensationalism. But I think it’s important to cut through the theatrics of the article to get at the deeper problems. And tt’s not that animals are dying, its the sheer amount of animals, and the toll that comes with raising, slaughtering and distributing cheap meat in such astronomical numbers, and our willingness, as a culture to place abundant luxury over animal welfare, environmental safety, employee well being, and even our own health.
The appalling cruelty that these animals live and die in is absolutely unacceptable. And we got to this place by an increasing demand for meat with every meal and for it to be as cheap as possible. There is nothing healthy about this, for the consumer, for ag-workers, for the economy, and especially for the animals.
I am not advocating for vegetarianism, but the fact of the matter is, meat is expensive to produce, from both a biological stand point and from an economic stand point. So why are we demanding that it be so cheap to consume? It makes no sense for meat to be cheap. It requires immense resources from water to fuel to land, and we simply can not sustain this model any longer.
So, here it is guys. This is as preachy as I hope to get on this blog, and straight from a turkey murdering meat eater, who is not trying to scare you or scandalize you: If you think meat is too expensive, then you need to seriously consider not eating it any more, rather than demand it be cheaper. Maybe start thinking of it like alcohol. Something that’s fine to do on a Saturday night, or over the holidays, but not something that’s healthy to do every single day. This system is slowly but surely killing us, body and soul, and eroding our chances of getting back to a healthy food system.