Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Meat and Me

In his online chat yesterday, Gene Weingarten asked his carnivorous readers to assist him with a project he's doing by to emailing him and telling him their views on the ethics of eating meat.

What I sent him, roughly, was this:

I'm a Buddhist, so I really should be a vegetarian because we have a precept against killing. I tried it for a couple of years, and I noticed two major things about myself then:

(1) I talked about being a vegetarian all the time. I beat people over the head with my herbivorousness. I became indignant when restaurants didn't offer a range of choices for my particular dietary restrictions. I cheerfully told my dining companions how disgusting, immoral, and unhealthy their meals were. In short, I became an insufferably self-righteous pompous bore.

(2) I craved meat. Deep in my ape-brain, I wanted cheeseburgers, bacon, sausages, and pork chops constantly. And I was hungry all the time because all the tofu and bean sprouts in the world couldn't satisfy my craving for flesh.

So ultimately I decided to get off my high horse and give my body what it wanted. These days I try to mitigate the karmatic burden by sticking to organic and free-range stuff as much as I can and by trying to cultivate an awareness of where what I eat comes from. I've never seen a hog butchered, let alone done it myself, but it's something I'd like to experience.
Shrug. I admire people who have no apparent difficulty being lifelong vegetarians and not being all ego-assertive about it (looking at you, Patrick); it's just not something I feel equipped for. I'd be interested to hear what the rest of you think about this.


An Briosca Mor said...

I don't know, Patrick sure seems ego-asserive to me sometimes. After all, he did complain about my salty oat cookies being salty - when he wasn't too busy blogging the blog out of me for not blogging enough, that is. Isn't chastizing your food provider for not sufficiently satisfying your own bizarre dietary needs the very definition of ego-assteriveness?

Of course I did note that the cookies' deficiencies did not actually stop Patrick from eating several of them...

So, Rob, to your topic: Have you read The Omnivore's Dilemma? It addresses all your pig-slaughtering angst and more. Among other things, the author recounts his preparation of a meal that was almost entirely hunted and foraged for by him, including hunting for, slaughtering and cooking a wild boar. I'm just now finishing it up, and I think Lori has dibs on it when I'm done with it, but you can borrow it after her if you want.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do try to avoid alienating my sentient-being-eating friends by pointing out their obvious moral shortcomings, but Sammy Cavanagh, on the other hand, is the preachiest little herbivore you're ever likely to meet. Any chance he gets he will remind his grandparents: "Did you know that meat is made out of dead animals? I'm a vegetarian. I don't eat meat. That's gross." And so on, ad nauseum. He is truly insufferable. It makes it much easier for me to abstain from preachiness, because he's got it covered for the both of us.

Salty cookies, however, are an affront to my sensibilties which I simply cannot abide.


An Briosca Mor said...

You may not be able to abide them, Patrick, but I do believe I've seen you eating one or two of them, haven't I? Did you know they're made out of dead dried up plants?

Jeanette said...

And the crop growing process kills tons of worms, bugs and small animals, too. I once pointed this out to a militant vegan and watched her face drain of color. Karmically, if you eat much of anything you're fucked, so I say go for the dead animals if you enjoy them.

Rob said...

Hah. I think I was there when you had that little conversation.

Ed Bruske said...

And now it turns out livestock are the primary cause of global warming. does this mean I need to come up with ways to cook my Toyota Corolla?

Mike said...

I admire vegans. I also admire Jain monks who sweep the ground in front of them lest they accidentally step on a bug. I'm pretty much at peace with my physical framework, though: my body came equipped with incisors; with opposable thumbs, but no claws; and with a set of digestive and metabolic processes that are best served by small amounts of organic animal protein mixed with large amounts of plant fiber. The USDA food pyramid may be silly, but it isn't stupid.

Factory farming sucks. It's cruel and environmentally irresponsible. Hunting puts guns in the hands of way too many people who really shouldn't be carrying them (insert Cheney remark here). Vegetarianism is karmically great for people who can nourish themselves adequately and to their aesthetic satisfaction. I'm not as good a person as that, but I try to lean low on the food chain most of the time and to avoid avoidable cruelty, and I don't get in anybody's face about what they eat or don't eat.

That said, a certain level of "When in Rome..." is warranted. If a restaurant doesn't have anything you want, why are you there? And basic hospitality dictates that those of us who have vegan friends should know how to make a chocolate mousse out of tofu, cocoa and lots of powdered sugar.