Re-connecting the Meat Industry Disconnect
About 4-5 years ago I made the decision to give up all meat and become a vegetarian. Although I continue to eat delicious red meat and chicken pretty much daily-- in my heart I know I'm a vegetarian. A vegetarian who eats meat. My problem is I can't resist a good steak now and then. And saying no thanks to turkey at Thanksgiving? No thanks to the no thanks. Plus, there's this place called Walter's in Mamaroneck which seals the deal of me realistically ever walking away from meat. No way I'm ever turning down a Walter's! Sure I actually managed to give up veal altogether (evil process) and I avoid pork as much as possible (due to the intelligence of pigs)-- but I still basically eat meat.
Anyway, over the weekend I spent alot of time with my nephews and niece and somehow we started talking about meat. And I dabbled in the idea that eating meat is actually a choice rather than a must. I let them know there are people out there who don't eat meat at all. I told them that if they had a pet cow in their backyard named Potsi-- they'd probably never consider eating Potsi unless they were super hungry. Because Potsi would be their friend. Granted, it's hypocritical for me to do any sort of preaching about the niceness of animals because I chomp them up daily-- but I realize they have the same issue that most of us have when eating meat.
There is still a substantial disconnect to the source.
When I was a kid it never really occurred to me that eating ribs meant I was eating the actual rib of the animal. Or liver was the liver. Or the rump was the rump. Or tongue was the tongue or whatever. My nephews seem to have the same disconnect. Sure, there's a vague tie between cow and burger-- but they're kept comfortably apart. In separate mental rooms. They barely associate. Somewhere along the line a plug is pulled on the image of the actual animal as a living creature. Must of us can be eating bacon and staring at a cartoon pig and not really connect the two. The meat industry is smart to not plug that plug back in.
But I think meat processing should become part of general education. I think children have the right to understand exactly what they're eating. Our schools should reconnect that plug. Kids learn about sugars and not drinking soda and eating right and all that-- but a teacher will never bring a live pig into class and point out the various sections and say what's what. Or show a slaughterhouse video. I'm sure kids might even be learning about the meat industry in general-- but the connection between food and animal is still completely scrubbed. A chicken nugget is what exactly? They learn all about vegetables and grains and all that. Why not learn about meat in the same detail?
I think once that connection is made it'll level the playing field in terms of choosing to eat animals-- instead of it being a standard dinner. The meat industry has a near total disregard for our well being-- so maybe it's time we pushed back a little with what they fear the most? Why should we continue to give the meat industry a free pass on this disconnect? Let's ride em a little so they clean up their act?