Have you ever asked yourself this question: What is the quality of the meat you’re eating, and how well was the animal raised..? If not, then you can “pass Go and collect $200 along the way”. This post perhaps will not resonate with you. Read it anyway…
For me, this question has bothered me for some time, to the point that I recently gave up meat. I even dabbled with true vegetarianism for a while, until I realised that my own bodily needs required some form of non-plant protein, satisfied in the form of fish. I’m a ‘pescaterian’. Ayurveda, the sister practice of yoga, would say that this is perfectly acceptable, and if you must eat flesh, then let it be of the highest quality….
So it was during a recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales in the UK, aka ‘God’s Country’, that this notion was truly tested. As we passed paddock after paddock filled with luscious, green grass and thousands upon thousands of happy sheep and cattle, idly grazing and watching the day go by, curiosity got the better of me…
Fuck it, I thought to myself. I ended up giving in as one evening I tucked into a lamp chop at a local country pub. I would have to say that it was the most delicious and wholesome lamb chop that I had probably ever tasted. Let alone, did it actually look like a lamb chop such was its size, in comparison to the normal size portions that I used to receive as a child and see in supermarkets. A feeling of gratefulness pervaded me as I enjoyed such a wonderful meal.
I had similar feelings when my temptation got the better of me again and I sampled a local beef pie in one of Cumbria’s finest local establishments. As the meat was locally sourced, I had visions of such a cow enjoying a pastured life in the beautiful surroundings of the Lakes District around me.
Although I did not actually witness such animals being slaughtered, Louise Gray did exactly that in her mission to only eat meat she has killed herself. The experiences of what she witnessed at an abattoir was ‘horrific’ – sights of animals being slaughtered, gutted, skinned, burned, boiled and eviscerated was enough to convince her never to eat meat that has gone through a slaughterhouse again.
Whilst she is convinced that we should all be protected from this experience, to “protect our innocence”, I actually wonder whether this is really right. If we think about the majority of the meat that is consumed today, would you still eat it knowing where it came from, liberated from the delusions of your mind about how your meat is truly raised? Chickens, as I witnessed first hand on this trip, like to roam free and explore their surroundings. Yet how much actual chicken meat is sold from animals that have lived like this? Not much, I believe.
For the modern society, meat becomes like another item on the shelf of supermarkets – magically grown on trees and packaged from thin air, from which we can pick and choose at our leisure. “Beef”, “pork”, “chicken” become labels and nothing else. In our care-free minds we don’t think of anything else but the flavour and taste of such meat. The sentient being behind such life is not even considered. All this epitomises the essence of consumerism – disconnection. Disconnecting from the source of our food and the processes by which it is delivered to our plates.
If, rather ‘meat education’ was a compulsory part of every child’s education, then perhaps we would approach things differently. Knowledge of whether meat is ‘machine picked’,’factory farmed’, ‘free range’ or ‘organic’ would really mean something; perhaps influence eating choices. People’s own values and beliefs would then determine whether they still choose to eat meat, and its quality.
So, in all perhaps I’m a ‘flexitarian’. Back in the urban metropolis of London, where consumerism reigns supreme, I haven’t eaten any meat again. The delusion of the City life is that the country life is brought to our City door steps – the pureness of the label ‘Old Gloucester Spot’ pork belly on the menu of the local gastro pub doesn’t fool me any more.
Once we were hunters and gatherers, now we are merely collectors. However, when it comes to eating meat, let us make that choice in full conscience, and then our minds can truly be at peace.