Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Monday, August 22, 2005

To eat meat, or not to eat meat, that is the question

I've been a carnivore my whole life. Love meat. Every meal, every day. It was always my staple, particularly considering the fact that anything remotely resembling a vegetable always made me nauseous.

Ironically, I've also always loved animals passionately. The very idea of people abusing a pet makes me want to rip their heads off and stomp on them. While I am generally pretty compassionate towards people with faults and weaknesses, I really do hope that animal abusers burn in hell for eternity.

But recently, these two aspects of my life have ceased to live comfortably side by side. I've begun to face the fact that the ways I've rationalized meat eating - that the animals are treated humanely throughout their lives and then killed quickly and compassionately - do not truly hold water. They are full of wholes. Big gaping ones. The Meatrix (a two minute short animated film) has made that abundantly clear to me.

To think that chickens live their lives in tiny cages with their beaks chopped off, that pigs live so tightly packed into pens and cages that they live their lives unable to even turn around. It's terrible and cruel, and I have recently decided that I can no longer unthinkingly support this industry. And I am ashamed that this has not entered my consciousness before now.

I am trying to cut down on my meat consumption by eating lots of cheese pizzas and grilled cheese sandwiches. I eat fish three or four times a week. When I buy meat now, I make sure that I buy only free range chickens.

Do I still eat beef and pork occasionally when I go to restaurants? Yes. But now and for the rest of my life, when I put those bites into my mouth, I am very aware that an animal died for this. That an animal was probably mistreated for this. That this food used to be a living breathing beautiful creature. That because of me (partly) it is dead. And I am sad/grateful/ashamed that this animal has died to feed me.


Blogger Lisa M. said...

I love meat too.

I remember vividly when I realized what "meat" was. Though I liked the taste, my ten year old mind, couldn't comprehend it all.

I refused to eat cow. My father said, this isn't cow, it is beef. Numbly enough at the time, I didn't realize the trick.

I have an uncle in the meat business. The first time I saw the rows of hanging meat, I decided then and there I was going to eat vegies for the rest of my life.

This was in HS. That didn't last to long. Rarely did I cook, I was jsut served the food, I shoved it to the back of my mind, and ate away.

College came, it was different, I cooked most of the time. Though meat was pricey, and I ate little of it. I frequented Dominos most of the time, and only occasionaly ate at a sit down place.

Then... the unthinkable happened. I decided to NOT pursue my career, and decided to raise a family. BOY oh BOY, I had never shopped much at a grocery store, nor taken much thought at what was there.

Never did I put, animals to the little packages. I learned to handle the meat and to cook it. I loved it.

Then, I started reading. Several books on meat processing. First a novel, that instigated my need and thirst for information on it. YIPES. Never have I been so distraught. My husband quietly sat by my side waiting for me to "get" it all.

(sorry this ended up being SO long) Now...

Now I live in a rural area, and we raise our own meat. I have come to terms with the animals, being here, just like my garden to purcure my life. Sustinance. A seed planted, to grow and be harvested. Our animals are treated very well. They are killed quickly and processed cleanly.

It has been a full circle of understanding for me. I can completely grasp where your thoughts and feelings are coming from. We dont eat TONS of meat, and we are grateful for it.

The circle of life, in a nut shell. I can't concieve of some of the practices out there, but... I am content with my choices, at least for the time being.

Thanks for the post, and the great site!

8/24/2005 3:48 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi Lisa,

(Is this Lisa Bushman?) Thanks for the reply. I think I would feel better about eating meat if I knew that the animals came from small family farms, like yours. I could then be confident that the animals had nice lives and weren't mistreated.

But it must be hard to eat animals you've personally known and raised. You've probably been able to create some distance between you and the animals you know are being raised for food.

I envy you being so intimately involved with the earth and with the circle of life. I bet being that close to the land and animals makes you much more appreciative of the things that sustain you and your family.

8/25/2005 10:50 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

I never knew! I've often wondered but I guess it was always one of those things I chose not to think about.

Thank you Caroline for the info. I am planning on supporting local farmers. What an awful situation for those poor animals.

I love your blog, very fun and interesting.

8/25/2005 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that life is precious. Can I take it then that you are pro-life, too?


9/16/2005 11:13 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

CG (do I know you??? just curious)
I do think life is precious. I am personally pro-life, but politically pro-choice.

While I dislike the idea of rampant abortions (who doesn't?) I just cannot support pro-life legislation. What if a woman is raped, or her life is endagered by the preganancy? I think she should have the choice to terminate. And of course, many politicians often say that abortion, incest, etc would be exceptions, but how could that be enforced? Only 10% of rapes are ever reported. And even if she did go to the police, with the backlog in the courts, by the time anything came to trial the woman would be 9 months pregant at least. And what if there just wasn't proof that a rape occurred? I just don't see how such legislation could be viable.

And even if it wasn't rape, incest, or endagement to the woman's health, I cannot in good conscience support a law that might result in desperate young girls sticking knitting needles up themselves and endangering their lives. I can't stand the thought of women getting back ally abortions and putting their lives at risk.

Ultimately, it's a question of compassion for me. I am (and everyone else, unless she were in that situation is) not capable of understand the desperation, fear and terror that would lead a woman to want an abortion. If a woman is so desperate enough as to want that, I don't want the law to stop her. I respect her knowledge of herself and what she can handle in her life. And if she knows she is not capable emotionally, physically to see that pregnancy through, I think the law and society needs to respect that.

I also realize however, that many women will abuse the opportunities to abort. But rather than outlawing abortion, I think it would be better to educate more about birth control and teach women about options other than abortion.

So ultimately, I do believe life is precious. All life. Both woman and unborn child. But if I had to pick the more important between the two, I would always pick the woman's.

9/16/2005 6:12 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

oops, my second paragragh is supposed to say, "Of course, many politicians say that *rape*, incest, etc. would be exceptions...."

9/16/2005 6:59 PM  

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