1005
Listening to: Styrofoam Plates (Death Cab for Cutie)
Feeling: needy

4:15 Mid Wednesday Afternoon (12 May 2010)

      On Animal Products

I know meat tastes good to most people.  I don't know by what anomaly of genetics or environment caused my tongue to begin associating the flavours of meat with a feeling of repulsion and disgust. I can't tell you the exact moment that my teeth biting down on a hunk of steak flesh or burger or chicken nugget felt like biting into a hateful poison so intense it made me nauseous.

I remember I stopped eating red meat sometime before I was 15.  I didn't give a shit about cows or pigs, I didn't care what kind of living conditions they suffered, how detrimental to the environment the farming methods were, or how much sleep they were allowed in their artificially-lighted "homes."  It was pure and simple selfish distaste.  I don't like the steak mom, so I won't eat it. don't make me eat it.

I remember at what point I stopped eating meat entirely.  I finally decided that I was just not even going to try anymore. I was eating tiny spicy chicken, and thinking about how delicious the sauce was and how shameful it was that the sauce was ruined by the texture of the chicken within.  I realized that being a "vegetarian" is a better reason for asking people not to force you to eat meat than "i really hate the taste and how it feels in my mouth." I was 16. I didn't give a rats ass about the environment (well, not in connection to food), or how much more energy it takes to produce a steak than a bowl of rice with beans on the side.  I didn't know, let alone care, that 99% of the animal agriculture is factory farms.  All of this came later.  At the time I was thinking only of myself.

Then through serendipitous encounters with respected elders, I was introduced to the idea of thinking about other people. How many people on this planet don't get a choice at all whether to eat?  How many people on this planet go to bed on an empty stomach every night?  as a selfish 16 year old.Knowing the reality of starving people, however, only makes my fervent distaste for meat more acute - not only does it taste bad, but how can we ethically choose to eat something that takes x times more resources to produce than a non-meat meal?  of course meat can be sustainable, but eating meat ALL the time for EVERY dinner and also probably for many lunches, snacks, and breakfasts....I find it hard to believe that we can feel good about stuffing ourselves with cheap protein in the form of meat while other human beings, not even that far away from us, starve to death on the streets.  This world is small, and the choices we make affect those around us.  We are not individuals who are mutually exclusive from other individuals.  We are connected to each other through an intricate network comprised of the environment in which we live, the air we breathe, the water we drink, our neighbours and friends and family members and our neighbours' neighbours, our friends' friends, our family's families.

I'm not proposing that everyone go vegan. that would suck, I like eggs as much as the next guy. BUT I also believe in not eating eggs for every meal. they are an occasional treat, to enjoy in baking the odd batch of cookies or brownies and for one breakfast a week or so.  I haven't given up milk but I have limited my intake.  For God's Sake, I'm the worst vegetarian ever, I'm the first to admit it! I have the occasional gummy bear (gelatin).  I eat bleached sugar (bone char in bleaching process).  I even eat fish, and sometimes, for other reasons, fish is even worse than meat.

I'm not talking about quitting everything to do with animals cold turkey.  I'm just saying maybe we should limit ourselves.  Maybe we don't need to eat meat EVERY night, afternoon, morning.  Maybe we can make bacon a treat for special days!  Maybe we can eat meat only every other night!

Since becoming a vegetarian, there is a world of foods (even local foods) that I previously never ate.  I used to hate tomatoes and mushrooms! I'm not saying we're best friends now or that I eat them by themselves, but I at least found out how to cook them so that they taste yummy.  Would it really kill us to make vegetable pot-pie instead of chicken pot-pie? It's not any harder to leave the meat out, it's not that hard to make vegetables your main dish instead of your side dish.  It's EASIER to get vitamins from food when you eat more green beans and colourful veges, which you inevitably would if you ate less meat.

It gives you the opportunity to explore more spices and a larger variety of grains and vegetables than you normally would.  you would be shocked at how filling a mere potato is when it's laced with peas, cauliflower, and Indian curry spices such as coriander and cumin.  And seriously it's not necessary to give up meat altogether - if EVERYONE just ate a little less meat, we would not need factory farms to deliver cheap meat to us, we would need less cows/pigs/chickens and introduce less nitrates into the groundwater and less methane into the air we breathe.

It can't be that hard, and it truly cannot reduce the quality of your life that much.  Have you ever tried grilling a portobello mushroom instead of a burger?  You don't have to worry about under cooking it as much, you can still char the edges for that delicious blackened carbon taste (even if it is highly carcinogenic- a story for another day), and it is still satisfying and rich in protein.  You will not suffer from a lack of flavour, you will not suffer from a lack of nutrients.  You may suffer a lack of the chewy, inexplicable texture of meat, but for those who need that there is always "faux meat" products - boca burgers feel an AWFUL lot like real burgers, to the extent where I find it hard to eat them.  Same with vege sausage or tempeh (wheat gluten mixed with nutritional yeast).

I know that a lot of plant agriculture is also detrimental to the environment - monocultures of corn taking over virgin prairie, for example.  Or soybean fields cutting (literally) into the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.  So again I reiterate, redundantly.

EVERYTHING in moderation.

Moderation in our food choices is the only way to survive in the uncertainty of the future of living on Earth.

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