Hi all! Sorry for the small lapse in posting! I was on vacation in the Philippines! I’m back now and I’ve had this post swimming around in my head for a while so it’s time to get it out there on The Very New Vegan Blog. I don’t remember if I mentioned this in any previous posts but I’m engaged! Don’t get too excited, my fiancée and I have been engaged since Feb 2010. However, we were both in school and I was only hanging onto my sanity by a shred as it were just tackling grad school… Adding the additional responsibility/stress/excitement/work of planning a wedding would have caused my psyche to implode. So we waited… and now the time has finally come! Our wedding date is going to be 7/13/13 and that means with 7/2012 rapidly approaching, it’s time to start planning!!
Despite being an alternative, modern, liberal woman, I must confess that I have dreamed about getting married since I was 16 years old. So I can’t help but dissolve into a giggling and twitterpated bride-to-be… What comes along with being reduced to giddy bride is an irresistible urge to watch bridal shows on tv. Apparently I’m not alone because TLC has an entire lineup of bride shows… so many in fact, that they scheduled them all back-to-back on Friday which they have renamed Brideday.
No, I’m not kidding. And yes, you better believe I’m watching every single one.
So getting right along to the point here because I don’t want to subject you to any more of my bridal blather, the other day I was watching a show called Four Weddings. The premise of the show is that four brides who have never met, attend each other’s wedding and score each one. The winner then receives a free honeymoon. It sounds like it would be totally catty and lame and just a showcase of the worst of humanity but it’s really not, I promise
please don’t judge me.
Annnnnnyways… this all has a point, I promise. One of the categories which the brides score each other is food. Naturally. It’s a big part of any wedding, the free meal! Invariably the dinners are always meat-based and I watch over and over, in every episode (usually more than once), the brides eat their food and say it was “just okay”, “so-so”, “bland/under seasoned/cold”, “typical wedding food”, “nothing special”.
Like so many of us growing up in the United States, for years I was just desensitized to meat. I was completely disconnected with the fact that the sanitary little wrapped piece of not-bloody chicken/beef/pork/fish in the little styrofoam cradle, or the attractively arranged cooked meat on my plate was actually a living being at one point. Obviously today, I feel differently. However, I was awakened to my disconnect once again by watching this show. Watching these brides eat meat and comment or criticize it didn’t bother me at all. Honestly I didn’t even think about it. It’s just part of the show. Besides, I live in an omnivores world. I am around meat eaters constantly, strangers, friends, family, the majority of the people I come in contact with eat meat. When I am asked or approached about veganism, I share. Otherwise, I just lead by my actions and live in accordance with my own conscience.
In plain language, when people around me eat meat and who are not interested in veganism, I just have to shut it out. Disconnect.
So, I’m watching this show and in one particular episode, one woman order veal for her dinner. I was a bit horrified, I am honestly at a loss for why anyone would eat veal ever. I mean, I feel like that’s just kind of extreme. Anyways, that’s not the point. The point is that she eats the veal, scrunched her face, shrugs her shoulders a bit and then says that is was “just okay”.
For me, it was like a lightbulb went on. The whole scene revealed to me two things. First, a singular truth, which in turn begs a major ethical question.
First, meat is not unequivocally tasty. Sometimes, yes, the steak is going to be sub par. Chicken wings will be coldish and rubbery. Pork will be bland and under seasoned. Sometimes the meat is just not going to taste that awesome.
So, given that information, why eat it?
To elaborate further, I am not claiming that all vegan food is going to be a paradigm of flavor perfection either. Sometimes that veggie burger will be just so-so. The vegetable+grain+legume+beverage/whatever you had for dinner is just going be dinner and nothing to jump up and down about. Every meal just can not be the best meal you have ever had.
My point is that given that knowledge that every meal is a flavor-gamble of sorts, why kill?
Yes, sometimes those ribs will be just scrumptious, but that vegan avocado pesto pasta may be just as delicious and no animal had to suffer. And believe me, every animal on a plate suffered and was afraid to face a premature death. Quite possibly a death that was simply the capstone of a tortured and anonymous existence.
As I watched this woman eat her veal dinner, a baby cow, and then comment that it was just mediocre, I just felt so sad. I’m not criticizing the woman, she presented as a nice and normal woman in love, about to make a life committment to another human being. There’s nothing wrong with her. There’s something wrong with the institution and culture of our food that somehow, substandard tasting meat is still perceived as superior or substandard tasting vegetables.
That little baby didn’t have to die, but he did. His life was wasted so he could be just mediocre. It’s an ugly truth. I hope that the after-life is a bit more kind, at least he will be meeting with his mommy there soon enough. His dairy cow mother will soon be used up and sent to slaughter as well. Although her broken body will probably be destined for pet food and not on a plate at a wedding.
(If you are confused about the connection between Dairy & Veal, please read my first blog post. Don’t be scared, I make jokes and it’s not nearly as depressing as this post)
I usually keep this blog a lot less grim, but there’s just no way to put a lighthearted tone on today’s topic. I think I’ve made my point but just to summarize:
Sometimes meat tastes good. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes vegan food is great. Sometimes it’s just food.
The cost of meat, tasty or not, is a life.
The cost of vegan food, tasty or not, does not require a death.
When you lay it out with Aristotle-esque logic, for me the choice is clear and simple. However, I made the choice to stop participating (with my wallet & my body) in violence toward animals almost a year ago now. Maybe my logic isn’t so clear to others. I just ask anyone who reads this to consider it. If you are still eating meat or dairy, ask yourself why?
I would welcome comments on the subject. I always respect the choices of others, any comments posted will never be met with argument or hostility. I simply would like to understand.