Thursday, June 7, 2012

Musings on food ethics

I have always been and still am a meat-lover. I love the taste of meat, just about any meat really, and in most meals the meat is the part I enjoy the most, the part that I save on my plate until last so I can finish my meal with the best part. However, in the past couple of years (since my brother turned vegetarian), I've started to think about whether my enjoyment of meat is sufficient justification. Although I am not an animal lover, I find many practices of factory farming horrific, and by consuming products of factory farming, I am endorsing practices that consider the welfare of the animal to only be of importance if it negatively impacts the bottom line.

As soon as I started to honestly consider the topic, it became apparent that, at least for those of us living in the developed world, every argument for meat eating is a cover for the only reason that matters to most people, namely "I want to." While there may be room for argument with regards to humanely raised and slaughtered animals, there is no way to justify the horrific conditions under which the vast majority of animals we eat are raised and killed, just so we can eat cheap meat whenever we want. The only way we can continue to do so is by doing what I have been doing: refusing to think about it because we don't like the implications of where that thought might take us.

I've finally made the decision to think things through, and that means that I've had to start to make changes in my life. I'm starting off slowly because I want to make sure that the changes are ones that I can sustain for the long term. My current status is:
  • Only free-range or home produced eggs
  • If I'm preparing food just for me it won't have meat
  • In a restaurant, I give precedence to the vegetarian options, but if it/they don't look appealing, or something else is just overwhelmingly good, then I'm not sticking hard by it
  • When cooking at home, I'm mostly cooking meat-free, and while I'm currently still working through freezer meat supplies, I will try to source organic/free-range meat for meat-containing meals
  • When visiting someone, I eat what I'm given

I've been experimenting a lot with meat-free meals, and to my surprise, I haven't found myself missing meat. The meals have tasted fantastic, and the cost of meals is much less, which is great as we're currently living off savings. I'm still researching the issues and deciding where I will draw the line. However, my current aim is to cut out factory farmed animal products, which to me at this stage seems to be the bare minimum I should do.

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