I love getting asked the question, “Where do you want to go eat?”, regularly followed up with an, “I’m not sure what’s around here, do you know of a place?” I often laugh. Of course I know of a place. Well, technically, nine time out of ten I myself don’t know of a place, but Yelp sure does. After much deliberation and using my cellphone to scroll through a wide variety of food establishments, preferably four stars and up, a decision gets made and the food adventure begins.
Choosing what to eat is the next challenge. Although I politely thank the person giving out menus, I hardly need it. Although persons such as my mother will pester me for having my phone out, I jump back on Yelp. I spend as much time as I can researching foods other persons say I absolutely must try. It’s even better when there are pictures. I am sorry mother, but if I don’t check Yelp, the amount of satisfaction I receive from my food may quite possibly be a significantly lesser amount.
In a survey Santa Clara sent out to its incoming freshman, I remember selecting food as the topic I was most interested in. When I found out I was going to have a class centered around food, I didn’t see this as a coincidence. I also didn’t mind having a later class, even if it may have overlapped my usual dinner time. Talking about good food wouldn’t exactly help the situation, but knowing that food was in my future would hold me over. However, that’s not this Critical Thinking and Writing class was about. This class was about exploring the evils of the meat industry and the violent mass shooting at Columbine High School and their relation to one another. Through course readings and research, I learned the importance of examining the ethics of my everyday decisions and then actively trying to make as small a contribution as possible to our prominent culture of violence.
We showed up to class and were assigned to think about what we thought happiness was. I can’t exactly remember what I thought happiness was at the time, but I can guarantee you that it did not include profiting from the suffering of living, breathing animals. When we watching Meet Your Meat, it didn’t exactly have a profound effect on me. It was because I had known. I had known about how the animals I consumed were kept in small, cramped cages. I had known about the cows I ate who writhed in pain, fighting to stay alive until their bodies ultimately gave out on them. I knew what I was doing made me feel uncomfortable, but much like the persons in the beginning of David Foster Wallace’s video, “This is Water”, I had developed my own natural default setting (Wallace). This default setting included disregarding any and all feelings of guilt I could ever have when eating meat, and I was succeeding at it.
Shortly after we had begun to read about suspicious, controversial “It’s significantly better to eat meat when it’s free-range!” claims in journalist Jonathan Safran Foer’s extremely researched book Eating Animals, we visited Safeway. I would have agree with this statement; however, after reading Eating Animals, I felt differently. Jonathan Safran Foer wrote the following in his book:
“To be considered free-range, chickens raised for meat must have “access to the outdoors,” which, if you take those words literally, means nothing.” (Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by five dirt patch–and the door is closed all but occasionally.)” (Foer 61).
Scattered throughout Safeway were free-range labels and, as a regular consumer of meat, I previously would have seen these labels and felt good about my purchase. I would have felt good about it like my friend did who, when I told her about how free-range meant nothing, since she would not stop consuming meat, it was better than nothing. Because of this, I realized that questioning what I thought to be true and not pushing aside my guilty feelings would help me to feel about making better, more ethical decisions.
In the second quarter of our class, we discussed the mass shooting at Columbine High School. Two high school seniors at Columbine High School had walked into their high school with loaded guns and began shooting. This resulted in 24 persons injured and 15 persons murdered (Kennedy). The reasoning for their actions? We can never be 100% sure because we cannot ask the two murderers who committed suicide shortly after.
However, Eric Harris was, according to Dave Cullen who spent ten years to researching his book Columbine, “monstrous” and Dylan Klebold was “loving but fiercely angry inside, a tender boy torn apart (Cullen). However, the key, as Cullen put it, the “key to comprehending Columbine is letting go of our concept of “the killers.” (Cullen) Although they did, in fact, harbor such immense feelings of anger, we must look at them as persons. We must look at our own numbness to the amount of violence that occurs within our culture, and how this numbness can lead certain persons to commit immoral crimes. Then we must try to understand and come up with ways in which we can prevent greater amounts of future violence to occur.
I want to end this blogpost with the following quote from Eating Animals:
“What our babysitter said made sense to me, not only because it seemed true, but because it was the extension to food of everything my parents had taught me. We don’t hurt family members. We don’t hurt friends or strangers. We don’t even hurt upholstered furniture. My not having thought to include animals in that list didn’t make them the exceptions to it. It just made me a child, ignorant of the world’s workings. Until I wasn’t. At which point I had to change my life” (Foer 5).
I now eat a meat-free, plant-based diet. Have I been told, “It’s just phase”? Yes. Have I faced silent (and sometimes not so silent) resentment that now when I scour Yelp for somewhere my friends and/or family can go eat, I need to include the word vegan in the search bar? Most definitely. Do I regret my decision? Most certainly not. My decision to eliminate meat and animal products has eliminated feelings of guilt I had towards the animals I would eat, positively impacted my health, and changed the way I have thought my impact on other persons and the world itself. Because it is unethical and greatly contributes to our culture of violence, it is important not to disregard other living beings, regardless of their human and/or animal status. Sometimes, because of this culture of violence that we often partake is to, this can be a challenging feat. If you have read this far down in my blogpost, and even if you are only reading these last few words, I want challenge you. I challenge you last you to be the difference between zero and one more persons who questions and tries to make impact of their everyday decisions a positive one.
Cullen, Dave. “Columbine Faq.” Dave Cullen. Dave Cullen, n.d. Web. 09 June 2016.
Fischer, Erin. “Texting May Alleviate Physical Pain, Plus 4 More Unexpected Things Research Has Discovered About Texting.” Bustle. Bustle, 23 July 2015. Web. 09 June 2016.
Kennedy, Helen. “Columbine Shootings Leave 39 Dead or Injured in 1999.”NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 21 Apr. 1999. Web. 09 June 2016.
Lam, Francis. “What Do “free Range,” “organic” and Other Chicken Labels Really Mean?” Saloncom RSS. Salon Media Group, 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 09 June 2016.
Lazzaroni, Fenix. “Would You Eat a Horse?” Fennix Lazzaroni. Fennix Lazzaroni, 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 9 June 2016.
Wallance, David. “This Is Water – David Foster Wallace.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 June 2016.