Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pondering the Practice of Eating Meat

I am an unrepentant carnivore. I eat the flesh of beasts. All sorts of animals that have walked, crawled, swam or flown have become tasty meals for me. Here is a list of just some of the animals I have eaten at one time or another:

MAMMALS: cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, elk, moose, buffalo, rabbit, squirrel, chinchilla, ox

BIRDS: chicken, duck, goose, pheasant, quail, chucker, Cornish game hen, dove, ostrich

FISH: trout, catfish, crappie, perch, salmon, halibut, moon fish, cod, bass, bluegill, snapper, grunt, speckled sea trout, steel head, walleye, paddock, swordfish, mia-mia,tuna,sardines, anchovies

SHELL FISH / AMPHIBIAN/ REPTILE / OTHER lobster, crab, snails, mussels, clams, crayfish, squid, octopus, frog, snake (Cobra), turtle, oysters, shrimp, scallops

Don't get me wrong, I like a good salad and have never been one to eschew my vegetables. (So I guess it would be more accurate to same I was an OMNIVORE, right?)

But the point I am making is that I am thinking some about the economics, health implications and ethics of living on the flesh of other animals.

The food chain I have prescribed to over the years has been built on values assimilated from many sources. Most of it is totally arbitrary. For instance, why do I find it very acceptable to eat a cow but would not eat a horse (unless I was very, very hungry)? Other food taboos I have include primates, slugs, and fellow humans. (Remember the 1973 movie Soylent Green?)

Some cultures define cows to be very sacred.

I, on the other hand, consider cows to be rather tasty.



I had a conversation with my brother recently about the plans to butcher a bovine that I am acquainted with named Norman. I'm not sure how I feel about that one...I definitely find it more difficult to eat animals that I have had a relationship with. Which makes me wonder about eating the ones I have not had the pleasure to meet. HMMM is there and equation here having to do with Meet and Meat?

I have a good friend who is very deeply committed to the principle of being a vegetarian based on the idea that she will never eat anything that had a mother or a face. To her, food practices are very much an expression of her compassion for other living creatures. But I challenge her on that sometimes. Afterall, whose to say that carrots don't have souls?

Other people I know choose not to eat meat (or to extremely limit it) for health reasons. Dr. Dean Ornish has long proclaimed the virtues of a meat free diet for heart health.

You would think that with all the heart disease that runs rampant in my family I might be more concerned about this.

But honestly, I'm not.

While I have no active death wish, I also have no great desire to live to be 90. I figure I'll live until I die, and it's not going to be subsisting on bran muffins.

I recognize there are some advantages to having primarily a plant based diet. My own faith (LDS) subscribes to a teaching we call the "Word of Wisdom" (D & C 89) that advocates this.

I also recognize that it is a drain on the planet to raise enough resources to feed animals for butchering. "According to a recent report by Compassion in World Farming, "[c]rops that could be used to feed the hungry are instead being used to fatten animals raised for food." It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh." (see

So, knowing that eating meat (particularly beef) is not heart healthy and recognizing that the resources required to raise beef for meat harvest places disproportionate stress on my planet over growing plants for food...WHY do I continue to choose to eat meat?

Dunno. But I do. For now. I'm trying to be more mindful about it. Still, I am no where even remotely close to adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.

I AM working on incorporating more whole grains and leafy greens into my overall diet. But I'm still planning most my meals around a hunk of dead flesh and savoring every bite of it.

Bon appetit.


Rozel said...

I am not a huge meat eater but every once in a while a juicy hamber taste good. I have flirted with the idea of becoming a vegiterian but I think I am too lazy to ever become one.

Tristi said...

I think it's all a matter of listening to your body and giving it what it needs - some people do well on a vegetarian diet and others really feel the most healthy when they eat meat.

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