I have reached a tipping point in my life.
We have been reading Eric Schlosser's book, Fast Food Nation in one of the classes that I'm teaching. In the book, Schlosser foremost describes how the fast food industry transformed American culture as well as how it treats its employees as "cogs in a machine." But another major chapter of the text is entitled "What's in the Meat."
Now there are several ethical and health-related reasons for someone to be a vegetarian. If those reasons don't persuade you, simply flip to the previously mentioned chapter in the book and just a few pages into said chapter, Schlosser will bluntly declare just why we should all change our diets:
"There's shit in the meat."
The entire meatpacking system, from the raising of cattle to their slaughter and ultimate processing, is an absolutely ideal breeding ground for E. coli. Ground beef constitutes the remains of not one but up to approximately 100 cows, certain among them likely to be quite ill, along with cow manure and ammonia. What? You don't see ammonia listed on the packaging of your beef? That's because by law it doesn't have to be listed. It's not an ingredient. It's a "processing agent." Things aren't that much better for chicken and I doubt highly it's any different (perhaps worse) for pork processing.
Seriously. There are so many toxins in the food we end up with it's not even funny. Add to that the inhumane conditions for the workers of slaughterhouses and meatpacking centers and my appetite wanes. This is to say nothing of the atrocious treatment of the animals themselves (please read "animals" as "living, thinking, feeling creatures.") Look at the face below and tell me that beef cattle have good lives.
So I have decided that I am making a change. I intend to drastically reduce the amount of meat that I eat.
I know, I know. After everything I have just described, "reduce"sounds like a cop-out and it is. I just know myself. When it comes to certain foods, I am an addict. While I can reduce the quantities that I consume, I know that I will never be able to exorcise them completely. I like cheeseburgers. I also like bacon. Fried chicken is pretty damn good and I just can't go without my wife's chili. My efforts will be focused towards diminishing the amount of times I consume all of these foods. I will wait until I absolutely can't stand it anymore, then indulge. But I won't get used to it.
I also know my life. There will be times when I'm running out of time and fast food is the only convenient or even available option. Then I'm left working with what I've got. Again, isolate such cases. Same goes if I am a guest in someone's house. If they have prepared a meal for me, then I have been raised with manners that dictate you eat what you're given and you don't get picky. Once more, those cases should be rather few and far between, especially if I make it known I'm trying to reduce meat intake.
Made my first steps forward with the plan today. Lunch in the college cafeteria was a large salad, french fries, and a sliver of cheese pizza. The journey has begun and I'm not turning back.
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