Meat Or Not To Eat? The Great Food Dilemma


Let me first of all say that as a rule, I try not to kill spiders, ants, etc. I will kill a mosquito but that is simply survival of the fittest (I was eaten alive when I was in Minnesota this summer and it wasn’t pretty).  That being said, sometimes my instinct is to simply squash an annoying little insect, even though that is not what I want to do in my head. 

I was a vegetarian for nine years and vegan for a few months. And I was pretty rigid about what went into my body.  I would never eat soup or pasta if there was chicken stock in it.  I would not eat Altoids because of the gelatin.  But that changed when I donated blood during 9/11. I was told that I was so anemic, I shouldn’t be able to walk and if I didn’t go right from the blood bank to someplace where I could get a big, juicy steak I might not make it.  Ok, it wasn’t that dramatic but it was somewhere in that ballpark. 

I now eat everything.  I also do my best to only eat organic, grass-fed or cage-free, but “my best” doesn’t mean all the time.  Plus, I’ve been reading up and apparently “cage-free” and “organic” are not always a guarantee for the most humane, nutritious and sustainable food – but we can talk about that next time.

So, once I went back to meat, I thought I would be the kind of person that would not eat steak if the restaurant I was patronizing did not serve grass-fed beef.  Turns out this is not the case with me.  If I’m out to eat I WILL eat a steak and not ask about how it lived before it was slaughtered.  Who knew I could be so cold?  And while we’re talking about that “s” word, permit me to go on…..I also will not ask how the cow was slaughtered.  I know, that sounds horrible, but it is what happens, so shouldn’t we all be ok with saying that word?  I’m trying, but it really is so brutal and terrible.  Sigh.

I mean, look, if I could kill the animal myself then we would have no worries.  I have no problem eating meat if myself or a member of my family were the one killing it, but honestly I just do not have the stomach for this kind of thing.  God how I wish I were a strong, earthy cowboy type of lady who could go out with a bow and arrow, kill my moose and have a little thigh for dinner!  But I’m so not. 

And here’s the rub with that statement – I don’t even know if you would eat the thigh of a moose!  Now since I believe that using the entire animal is the only right thing to do, at some point you’d probably end up eating the thigh, so maybe I’m onto something here.  This is why I went vegatarian, by the way.  But now that I’m back, my body and it’s cravings are sometimes at odds with my sensibilities.  Just like I am with the killing of the insects.  It’s hard to be human, don’t you think?

Now my partner Ben is a chef and a food affectionado.  He believes in the “snout to tail or head to tail” movement of eating the whole animal.  Ugh!  Cue plugging ears, covering eyes, holding back heaves.  I know, I know, it’s absolutely awful that I feel that way but I just don’t think I have it in me to eat a pig’s ear (although our dog does like to partake) or a cow’s spleen.  Yuck, yuck, yuck! 

I don’t even like dark meat on a turkey or really even a chicken.  So see, I am 100% a product of….a product of what???  American food culture?  21st century food culture?  I know everyone is not like this but apparently most of us Americans are.  Did you know that 99% of all turkeys bred in the United States are broad-breasted whites?  Isn’t that just kind of racist!?

But seriously what does this mean?  Why is this bad?  #1 – it’s not natural and #2 – from just a food standpoint, it means you will have a weak breed after many generations…susceptible to sickness and disease.

To say this topic is complicated is obviously an understatement.  Heritage breeds, or simply those that have unique genetic traits, were raised many years ago and at a time when things were done more sustainably.  The animals were built to flourish in their environments, to thrive on the food available to them in their ecosystems.  Simply, they were part of a natural order.  Why should we concern ourselves with these things?  Well, when you take away the plethora of different breeds, you take away the genes that allow expansion.  And expansion is something we can relate to, especially as Americans, don’t you think?

But just like forests need fires to burn away and start anew, maybe that’s what’s going on here?  Ok I really hope that’s not what this is all about!! 

There is so much more that goes into this, I am simply scratching at the surface.  But it does seem that we as humans could stand to learn a little from how the Earth and all of its ecosystems function instead of constantly trying to control everything.  Because the earth and the natural order of things seems pretty darn strong….and if I had to wage a bet, I would bet on the Earth!


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