Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Not Eat Animals

Spousal Unit, ever since I first met him, has been what I would call a meatatarian. He eats meat whenever it's available, in large quantities, covered with sloppings of barbeque sauce. BBQ ribs, brats, and hamburgers top his list of favorite meats.

Last summer, Spousal Unit said, "Hey, let's try not eating any meat for a week."

I just about fell over. I've never been much for meat, especially beef or things that ooze grease when poked. I'd always wanted to try it out, but it's hard to do so when living with another person. The idea of cooking two meals, or cooking one and setting aside the meat in your dish, is not very appealing. So I jumped on it.

Week One went very well. Spousal Unit wanted to shoot for two, so we did. Yum, yum, veggies. And that led to our routine of eating meat only once a month.

And then I read a book.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer discusses how the animals we eat become meat. Everything from fish and shrimp to fowl and pigs, with a smattering of cows. If you're looking for a reason to become vegetarian, or are curious about how the corporate farms run things, take a look. I won't spoil your appetite too horribly by describing things here.

But just as an example of what's in that book (skip this paragraph, if you'd like): broiler hens have been genetically engineered to grow larger, so they produce more flesh. What happens to the males who are born, the roosters? They're destroyed. Half of all the chicken we eat has a counterpart that was eliminated (in a terrible way, trust me) because it served no purpose for the "farmers."

Revolting. I would be vegan now if it was less expensive. And if I didn't like cheese so much. Did you know that vegan cheese says on the label whether it can melt or not? "Melts just like real cheese!" It must be made of plastic if they have to state that.

Eating Animals is a very honest book - perspectives of ranchers, corporate farmers, and members of PETA are all included. Foer looks at both sides of the issue very fairly.

But the point is, I no longer eat meat once a month. I don't know if I'll ever be able to again. At first I thought it would be okay if I knew the animal it came from had been given a decent life and humanely slaughtered, but now, I don't know.

You know what's weird about all this? I don't really miss meat, but the one craving I do have is for bacon. Super crispy, mouth-watering, clog-your-arteries bacon. Even after I know what all the little piggies have to go through on factory farms, I still crave a slab of their crispified meatness.

Before becoming a vegetarian, I hadn't even made real bacon for about a year. This craving, I think, had been a year in the works already before I realized it existed, which is what makes it so much stronger. It's like a Superman craving, and the only thing that will stave it away is the kryptonite-green cover of that book.

I won't cave. I remember what the animals have gone through, and that's it: the craving is gone.

But I could really go for some vegetarian bacon - fakon, as I like to call it.


  1. This is slightly off topic, but have you read anything else by him? He's an AMAZING author. I've read "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and Matt and I just watched the movie version of "Everything is Illuminated" (which I plan on reading soon).

  2. I've heard he's awesome in a fictional regard, but no, have not read his other books. They're on my to-read list, though.


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