I. Eat. Meat.
I apologize. I’m not a vegetarian, and I’m definitely not a vegan. So am I a bad person? I might be, but my diet shouldn’t decide that. Most meat eaters, myself included, aren’t relishing the fact that their protein was slaughtered to get to their plate. Some of us savages even feel guilt, especially once we’ve seen just how gruesome the journey is from farm to fork. This post isn’t an apology to animals or a plea to people, instead I’m offering up my experiences, thoughts, and conclusions about a topic with not enough healthy discussion.
Recently I saw a virtual reality video of a pork slaughterhouse in action that really f**ked me up. It was horrible. So much blood and so little warning. I remember the lady working the stand outside our Library at Santa Clara University (where I’m a student) told me the video was, “a test of virtual reality capabilities.” I had no idea what I would be watching, but I was intrigued by the VR headset and the quiet stillness of the people who had already taken the bait.
The video opened and immediately I noticed how loud the headphones were. “Did they turn the headphones up between users?” I thought to myself. The audio was loud, dissonant and disturbing. There were wet slopping sounds as pigs slipped and fell in pools of their own blood and feces. There were pleading squeals as helpless pigs waited in fear for what was to come. But most of all there was the utterly disgusting sound of steel blades slicing open pink fleshy stomachs and the blood and guts and everything that came out.
Then I looked up from the floor. In front of me was a sow and her piglets. She was covered in blood and so were they. She was so obese and the pen was so small. Blood was everywhere. I couldn’t take it. I turned to the right and left, but it was all the same. Steel bars on all sides. I turned all the way around and came face to face with a slaughterhouse worker. She was smiling. Wielding her blade, she turned and disemboweled a massive hanging pig. It was too graphic, too real, and it made no sense. I took the headset and headphones off and caught my breath. The lady from the stand came over to ask me how I was doing. I told her I was surprised, but honestly, I was terrified. Then I just walked away.
“It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was pork making by machinery, pork making by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so innocent, they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests—and so perfectly within their rights!”
Upton Sinclair // The Jungle
How could this be reality? How does this be food? Why was that slaughterhouse worker smiling? What do I do now?
Thanks to my Critical Thinking and Writings course, our professor, and the novel Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, I’ve learned enough about factory farming and the animal agriculture industry in general to know that eating meat has innumerable downsides. Consuming too much meat products harms our health, the environment, and the animals as well. So with all these reasons to become a vegan, including a nightmarish escapade into virtual reality, why am I still eating meat?
Well the truth is I’m eating a lot less meat. I’m eating meat two or three times a week, instead of twice a day. It’s true, I’m eating more eggs and fish, but for some reason I don’t feel so bad about doing so. Over the last month I’ve eaten meat 11 times. It’s not 0 times but it’s also not 60 or 65.
“Whether we change our lives or do nothing, we have responded. To do nothing is to do something.”
Jonathan Safran Foer // Eating Animals
So why haven’t I stopped eating meat entirely? Well, I like the taste and maybe the way it makes me feel, and how much easier it is to get in our school cafeteria. I like how socially acceptable it is to eat the flesh of an animal’s carcass. I believe people were meant to eat meat, but not like we do today, especially in America. We were meant to enjoy the sacrifice of another living, breathing animal once in awhile, when nothing else presents itself, or when we need the B vitamins. I’m probably not going to stop eating meat completely for a while, but I’m definitely never going to eat as much as I did in the past.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.Sinclair,
Upton. The Jungle. Cambridge, MA: R. Bentley, 1971. Print.
Cowspiracy. Dir. Keegan Kuhn and Kip Anderson. Perf. Kip Anderson.Cowspiracy.com. N.p., 6 June 2014. Web. 8 June 2016.