Recently a dear friend said he believes meat-eating is a vast, right-wing conspiracy. He was joking, partly.
I laughed automatically, because I, too, tend to be a bleeding heart, animal & poor people-lovin’ liberal, & this is just the kind of thing we do together. When we’re not busy grinding elitist granola out of bloated governmental programs, that is.
I was not laughing about the meat, though. That’s because I don’t care.
Other People Do
Yes. They do. A lot. Hoo boy.
You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about someone’s courageous decision to stop eating meat & how the light shineth upon them forever thereafter.
Which is not to say I believe the choice to not eat meat, or animal products at all, is not terribly sincere. Some of the nicest, most intelligent, most thoughtful & most planet-loving people I know (like my friend) have made this choice from their innermost hearts.
I just know I was not one of them.
When I became a vegetarian over twenty years ago, it was largely a textural issue. Not geopolitical, agroempathetic or hydroelectrical texture, either.
Just- texture. I don’t like meat. I do like the amazingly creative things vegetarians & vegans have done with vegetables & nuts. I also like fish, some years, when my body asks for it (which technically makes me a part-time pescatarian, I suppose, a club with no charter.) And always dairy & eggs. Not big on a lot of grains or sugar. Have seen the true, dark face of processed soy.
Not that this is really any of your business.
But while I’m still in a sharing mood here: I do care very much where my dinners come from, how they were grown & how they are prepared.
Nourishment, of my life, my body, my family, my communities (including all species, especially microbial ones) & my planet, is dead serious round these parts. In a bumbling, sexy kind of way.
Also: I care about others being able access the quality of food I’m able to enjoy, regardless of age, health, income or location. This is sexy, too. It is.
For a quite a while, the most vocal advocates, if not the only advocates, for the planet via the plate were vegetarians. They were the ones looking at the bigger picture of the industrialized food system & what it was doing to us as a species, not to mention our fellow species.
Ooh, they’ve taught us all so much. Major sexy credit due here.
Not Quite as Hot
Among other things, the vegetarians have always been right about factory-farmed meat, of course. It’s going to kill us all quite dead, but which way first is up for grabs.
Wait, wait! Worldwide antibiotic resistance? Just the plain ole slowly-developing health problems from corn & soy-fed animals, who are not meant to eat corn & soy, not to mention the pesticides on their feed?
How about something more exotic, like that weird, unidentified entity from genetically modified animal feed causing infertility in animals &, presumably, humans?
Or perhaps the growth hormones in the meat & dairy? Maybe soon we’ll be growing genitals out our eyeballs. It might become fashionable, albeit briefly. Start saving now for your children’s surgery to enhance their eyeball assets.
There’s just so much out there to worry about. But arguments for or against eating meat or animal products in general?
Meh. Passé. Perhaps it’s just me, but I fail to see how a creamed GMO soybean sundae is a whole lot less cruel than a glass of conventional milk.
Distraction from the most important issues, these arguments are, much like the those screaming pundits in the media. Liberal v. conservative or what have you get bleached of meaning in a world like this. Maybe this is not the worst development.
On Garden Perves & Farmers Hitting the Streets
Once upon a time my friend may have been closer to stereotypically correct categories: Enlightened people eat little to no meat, smile quaveringly at the butterflies & never suffer heart attacks.
Fat folks, on the other hand, gorge on barely-dead carcasses because they’re hateful, greedy freaks hell-bent on shooting us all into the stratosphere on a big, burning ring of methane.
(Is that what I thought, too, in those early veggie years? Oh, maybe a little. Maybe there might have been a teeny bit of smugness. I don’t know who told you I went around dressed like Gandhi, though.)
These divisions are not true ones, obviously, & never were. For one thing, I’ve known some vicious veggies in my time. Vitamin B-12 depletion did not seem to soothe their native aggression. I would not trust them alone with any garden vegetable, ever.
For another, well, for Gandhi’s sake: These days there’s a great big & far more nuanced world of positive action connecting plate to health to planet.
Here are just a few:
Grass farmers; seed savers; school lunch activists; creative foragers; rural farmers marching in NYC; raw milk activists; urban gardeners; GMO freedom fighters; traditional cooks teaching the next generation how to feed themselves appropriately & gain independence from processed foods; food desert-eliminators….
Just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s a new year.
What kind of action to make a better world are you going to take?