My Critical Thinking and Writing class consisted of controversial texts and films regarding the food industry, sustainability, and honesty. The main points derived from the class material were points that regarded large social issues; issues that aren’t spoken of enough in our world today. These included the corruption in big food corporations with government lobbying, the health hazards and animal mistreatment in animal agriculture, the manipulation behind advertisement and the truth, and why we lie and what we lie about. All the information read and discussed was open for interpretation and we were required to formulate our own theses on the material provided. While the entire course material impacted me, the most influential was learning about factory farming and the importance on being aware of what we eat.
In high school, my diet was restricted to foods that were placed in front of me. My main diet were the main courses served at my school cafeteria, and meals made by my mom. I was always pleased with the food provided and never put an impactful amount of thought towards my palette. My lack of conscious-eating didn’t result in constant junk-food binging. Rather, I simply didn’t entirely process what I ate and how it affected me.
Going into college I was no longer able to rely on meals being placed in front of me. Yet, I still stuck to the generic popular items and made decisions based on either main items on a menu or what my friends were getting. I looked for what sounded satisfying and I ate it. My decision process was solely based on my appetite. After gaining independence overall and structuring independent thought through my discussion heavy classes, I was slowly able to gain insight and understand the importance of my eating decisions
I precisely remember completing our first homework assignment in my Critical Thinking and Writing class. The assignment was to watch the short film “Meet Your Meat” by Bruce Friedrich. Based off the title, I had a preconceived idea that it was going to be about the animal cruelties faced within factory farming. And that’s exactly what it was. I contained minimal knowledge about the processes involved in factory farming; I knew that there was animal cruelty and lack of sanitation involved, but even then, I never considered cutting out meat. To put it briefly, watching “Meet Your Meat” was a slap in the face. I was struck not only by the images of sick, broken, and fearful animals, but my lack of insight on the subject.
“Meet Your Meat” was just the beginning of the vast information I learned about food dangers. During class we watched the documentary, “Fed Up” by Stephanie Soechtig that discussed the addictive and deadly factors of sugar. Especially within the younger generation, obesity and heart disease are more common due to sugary foods and the manipulative advertisement involved. Money is being lost in health care and gained in the food corporations that sell these products. More money towards more advertisement claiming that fruit gushers are “made with real fruit” and contain an “excellent source of vitamin C” and that Coca-Cola is working to strengthen heart health while consumption of their product actually increases this disease. I will list off a few of the reasons why anyone should cut out meat and limit sugar from their diet that I learned through these two texts.
- Sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine.
- Over 95% of all Americans will be overweight or obese in decades.
- By 2050 one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.
- The USDA re-classified feces in 1979 in order to allow the poultry industry to pass health regulations.
- An egg-laying hen’s cage is eight by eight inches, stacked between three and nine tiers high.
- Animal agriculture uses 756 million tons of grain and corn per year, enough to feed the 1.4 billion humans living in poverty.
- Animal agriculture is the number one cause of climate change.
- Every animal on your plate has suffered.
Within college campuses, there’s a common knowledge that animals aren’t treated well and that sugar consumption leads to heart failure, however, too many times is this information completely disregarded. There’s discussions being held, documentaries being watched, and articles being read. Students participate and gain a sense of empowerment and intellect on the subject, but their actions don’t always reflect their words. Perhaps the letter displayed on their academic records is too distracting to take what we learn in the classroom and form our character around it.
Inching forward in education about our diets is impactful. It’s easy to keep unhealthy eating habits with just a base sense of knowledge not only because it doesn’t require a change in certain crave-loving foods, but also because it’s easier to live our lives in unawareness. “This is Water”, a speech written and presented by David Foster Wallace, explains the concept of awareness in his commencement speech for Kenyon College. He illustrates the boredom placed on everyday 9-5 schedules and how meaningless days can lead to what he calls a natural default setting where we live and act without considering the world around us. He describes how among repetitive schedules, we still have the freedom to choose. Daily frustrations lead to a selfish belief that we know everything and don’t need to consider certain factors. Taking an extra step in “simple awareness” is the “freedom of real education, of learning how to be well adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.” (Wallace).
College students can directly relate to the lessons given in Wallace’s speech. Attending boring classes and spending long hours in the library can bring frustration and lead to unconscious eating habits. The resources provided on a college campus allow students to further educate themselves in matters that should be given meaning. However, as Wallace described, this requires effort. Students distract themselves in measures that eliminate the subconscious knowledge that eating meat and sugary foods is bad. But the power to think both individually and analytically should be what students take away from the college experience. These thoughts should lead to the act of choosing to change their diet.
Being aware of what we consume is beneficial to both our world and ourselves. Questioning advertisement, reading nutrition labels, and considering animal lives will better a diet. It’s so simple. If you are craving sugar, resort to a piece of fruit or a piece of dark chocolate rather than highly processed sour patched kids. When choosing which brands to buy from, chose local with the knowledge that big corporations already have dangerous powers to further spread disease. Try and strain away from animal products. Substitute tofu for chicken, almond milk for milk, a veggie burger for a hamburger.
A gain in independence when attending college brings a gain in responsibilities. The infamous freshman 15 accurately displays the lack of thought involved in student eating. It’s a learning process and once students can wrap their head around the importance of conscious eating, not only will the change improve their physical health improve, but also their mentality. Practicing awareness and self-control is important in all aspects of life. Taking information that is given to us and analyzing its meaning and truthfulness.
After watching “Meet Your Meat”, I made one of the largest decisions of my life: to cut out meat. It’s been 7 months since this decision and through that time I’ve grown in my mental capacity. I’m able to analyze all my food decisions and work towards creating a healthier self. Not only do I care about the lives of animals, but I care about my health and well-being. I limit sugar intake and focus on consuming substitutes for animal products. I chose to change my diet and it’s a decision that I believe makes me happier. Every meal I eat, I eat with no guilt involved. My diet is slowly improving as I am always involving myself in articles and discussions about what is best for myself.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York, Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company, 2009.
Meet Your Meat. Directed by Bruce Friedrich and Cam Akin, narrated by Alec Baldwin, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 2002. Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32IDVdgmzKA. Accessed 1 Nov. 2016.
This Is Water. Directed by The Glossary, performance by David Foster Wallace, 2005. Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcAhZ5JzYJY. Accessed 12 June 2017.
Fed Up. Directed by Stephanie Soechtig, narrated by Katie Couric, Weinstein Company, 2014. Netflix, http://www.netflix.com/search?q=fed%20up&jbv=70299287&jbp=0&jbr=0. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.