The Meat Sheet Explained
I’m not the only one who has recently been thinking a lot about the meat we eat. Albany Jane had a recent post on The Great Meat Debate. But a lot of the fire in my belly is the result of a post on the From Scratch Club blog that got me int a few interesting debates on Paula Deen’s Facebook page, of all places.
A long time ago I stumbled upon this web video, which I thought did a pretty good job of identifying the big issues in reasonably entertaining way. But even then I was trying to eat happier meat.
The thing, is I enjoy meat. If push came to shove, I could live without it. But it’s so delicious that I would prefer to keep eating it. But there are some problems with meat. And I’m getting a little fed up with what is being done to animals in the name of our pleasure and nutrition.
Let me give you the briefest sense about what I mean.
- I think that the animals that will give their lives to feed us, should be given the best lives possible until that moment that they meet their inevitable demise.
- I don’t think it’s a good idea to give routine antibiotics to living creatures, and I don’t want to support that practice.
- I think animals should be allowed to be animals. Chickens should be able to do the things chickens do, and the same goes for the other animals we eat.
- I think animals should eat the things their bodies are designed to eat. Chickens should eat bugs. Cows should eat grass. No animals should be fed GMO corn, nor should herbivores be fed animal by-products.
- I think animals should be dispatched humanely. Despite what my religious heritage tells me, there are better, more modern ways to kill an animal with limited stress and pain.
Surely there are more criteria that could be used for defining meat as happy, and I recognize that these issues aren’t always black and white. While I might want to support the local family farm and avoid large factory farms, it’s possible that a small rancher might engage in the practices I despise. It’s also possible, if however unlikely, that a large factory farm could be responsible for producing the meat I seek.
In the last couple days as I have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I really wanted to do something about meat. But all the resolutions I could think of were either too draconian or far too permissive. I don’t think it’s realistic for me to give up conventionally produced meat entirely. At least not this year. And I am comfortable with baby steps.
So instead I’ve committed to trying to cut back on the conventional meat I consume on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. I’m not committing to a number, but instead I will use 2011 as a year to document my meat consumption. This way, I’ll have something to look back on and see if I can further reduce conventional meat in my diet in subsequent years.
If you are interested, this ongoing project will be summarized in The Meat Sheet.
Last night I already made my first decision based on this goal. At a Mexican restaurant, I opted to go meatless instead of indulging in what could very well have been delicious carnitas made from Smithfield pork.
New Years’s Day did start off with meat from Holland Brothers in Altoona, PA. They are a small local butcher. My father-in-law believes that they use animals sourced from smaller local farmers, but I have no real verification of that. Nor do I know anything about how these animals are raised. So for now, I am compelled to consider this meat unhappy. Yes, it’s probably happier than most, and maybe after a bit more research I can confidently switch its designation.
Yes, I will allow myself some indulgences. This upcoming Friday’s Wine and Dine for the Arts will be one of them.
No, I will not rudely refuse the hospitality and generosity of others who may offer me tasty delights that do not conform with this belief structure. However, any meat whose provenance is uncertain, will need to be assumed unhappy, for the purposes of this exercise.
I know this is not for everybody.
It’s a lot easier to not think about where food comes from. I’d prefer not to think about it. But I can’t. I’d love to eat nothing but happy meat whenever I choose to indulge in animal flesh, but I can’t do that either. I can however cut back on the things I know I shouldn’t be doing. And this is my plan for 2011.
If you ever want to check in on how I’m doing, I’ve added a link to The Meat Sheet at the top of the blog. And if you are interested in participating at home, you’ve got me for a partner. I’d love to hear about your trials and tribulations as well as your successes.
Happy New Year.