Monday, December 21, 2009

O Come All Ye Meatless

Before converting to Judaism and leaving behind my Presbyterian roots, I lay awake at night worrying about giving up my Christmas tree.  I was not destined to maintain my tradition through a Hanukkah bush. 

It turned out not to be be a big deal at all.  I’ve never once missed searching for the perfect tree, decorating it, or sweeping up dropped needles.  I mildly sympathized with my daughter’s desire to be like all the Christian families in our neighborhood, but a Christmas tree just didn’t fit in our house.

As I plunge further into “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, I wonder if it would be equally easy to leave meat behind.  Would I carefully plan my last meaty meal?  Would I fondly remember the smell?  The taste?

99 out of 100 Americans will never read about the atrocities of the factory farm.  Ignorance is what allows them to continue to buy Tysons pork and Purdue chicken and farmed salmon without the slightest tinge of guilt.  I’m on page 199 of the book and my stomach is definitely squeamish over what I have been reading.

This week we will pay a visit to Polyface Farm when we make a trip to Charlottesville to pick up my husband’s new custom-made shoes.  I still consider Joel Salatin’s  farming practices to be a far cry from factory farming.  But there is no way I can say his animals never suffer.  For one thing, he is forced to send his cows and pigs to a slaughterhouse, where he doesn’t have complete control. 

We’ll probably buy some chickens, perhaps even a turkey, as I continue to ponder what it might be like to go cold-turkey (or NO-turkey) on meat.

I can already picture my husband laying awake at night worrying about meat-deprivation.  He hasn’t yet read this book.

I think back to all the teasing one of my vegan employees got from my old office, particularly every time there was a pot-luck lunch.  It would be things like, “What sort of tofu delight did you bring this time, John?”  I am suddenly far more sympathetic and in awe of this guy who was willing to go against the mainstream of America.

I never want to be one of those people who claims to be a vegetarian and then goes and eats a burger in the closet.  If I actually embrace vegetarianism, it will be a complete change.  Much like the Christmas tree.

I wonder if I would really miss eating meat?


Anonymous Dsquared said...

Love the Title. Not so crazy about the idea, however. I like fish and chicken!! How about giving up beef?

6:56 PM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

Well, you've already given up pork. That wasn't too hard was it?

When I read a book about factory farms I swear I am going to give up meat. However, the feeling passes and I nibble away.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peace on Earth???

Aren’t humans amazing Animals? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions of more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

Check out this informative and inspiring video on why people choose vegan:

Also see Gary Yourofsky:

8:32 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

I'm sure the book you're reading and the movie "Food, Inc." have a lot of important things to say about the diets of many people. Which is why I don't plan to read the book or see the movie.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Dsquared -- We'll have to negotiate.

Christine -- I just gave up a Christmas tree; I didn't become kosher. I love occasionally eating bacon, but I don't think I've ever made a pork roast since I got married.

Anon -- I get the sense this comment is the result of "trolling", as I got a similar (identical) one from another recent post.

MC -- Ostrich with head in sand perhaps? Be brave; at least watch the movie. I do know a lot of very smart people, including one 29-year-old lawyer in my family, who refuse to think about this for even one minute.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I love potato and veggie and cheese casseroles, so I could survive for a long time without meat, but I would never make it a final decision. Our goose will come from a neighbour farm, our eggs as well (I can see their mothers run around, being chased by the rooster), and I try to serve no more meat than my husband craves for. But once in a while I like a chicken or steak or fish myself. Never a McDonald`s though.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was vegetarian for most of my twenties, but after developing hypoglycemia, I had to resume eating poultry and fish, and in recent years now eat pork and beef that is served to me (although I virtually never cook it, except for occasional bacon)...

I'll be curious to see how your thoughts unfold on this topic!


12:26 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Its not ignorance that keeps me stocked up on Tysons Chicken. Its hunger and price.
I really don't care how comfortable that chicken was during its life, and I don't mind it much.
And I've heard how unsanitary the conditions are, but I've cooked enough chickens to know that if its prepared proper, no one gets sick and its pretty darn tasty too!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Angela -- Eating locally is certainly the way to go, whether you are a vegetarian or not.

Anon F -- To play devil's advocate, are there not vegetarian solutions to hypoglycemia?

Bulletholes -- You are right there with 99% of the people in this country, including the entire USDA! Don't you think you could tell the difference in a blind test?

3:31 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I don't miss meat. I don't know if I ever have but it was a more gradual transition for me, less of a decision than a natural progression in life and now, it's just who I am and how I live. You'd probably get there the same way. It sounds like the direction you're moving; though, you don't have to do anything except for whatever feels right to you.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not in my case, which was complicated and pretty extreme for a number of years (couldn't walk for more than 1/8 mile, was in the hospital three times, etc.) But I know there are some hypoglycemics who can handle a vegetarian diet...

You're raising a lot of interesting issues here!


5:50 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

How much do one of those non-stressed birds cost anyway? I buy breasts at 1.49 a pound, and I might could tell the difference taste wise, when I could afford 'em. 'Course I'm pretty happy with the 1.49 bird.
Very economical.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

I was vegetarian for a good long stretch, then went through a bout of severe anemia (since gone,) but that drove me back to meat proteins. Lately, this past year, I have lost the taste for meat. I still eat it, but not very much, and I'm not sure what that disinterest stems from. I haven't sat down to think it through. I did cook a free range turkey at Thanksgiving, but I've lost the taste for turkey, as well. I still like eating seafood.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cube -- I know exactly what you mean. I always go for the vegetable dishes before any meat on my plate these days. It will probably just play out as less and less instead of removing it from my diet altogether.

11:27 AM  

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