I was a vegetarian for two years in the mid-1990s, mostly because I used to listen to a lot of Moby. It came to a stop on my wedding day—someone put a piece of chicken in front of me, and I said, ah, what the hell. Then, three years ago, I made a go at being vegan. That lasted about two weeks—I was shitting like a goose. So then I became a vegetarian again, which lasted about nine months, but it is hard to be a vegetarian in the South. The vast majority of restaurants will not have a single thing on the menu that isn’t meat, aside from French fries. I ate a lot of French fries that year.
Similar to the old Zen saying about why Vegetarian: Because when they die, plants do not cry as loud as animals.
Think you are spot on about the oceans. Way too little is written about their demise and effect on the world. I would also argue that you are right about slaughterhouses, but then living in the wild and being taken down and eaten by a coyote, wolf or wild cat is not so glorious of life either. In regards to your “soul” argument I would posit that in so far as there is a “spirit” in all animals there is also one in all plants, all life. As such the moral argument for being a vegan or vegetarian has always seemed rather egotistical to me.
I agree with Mark, plants have souls as do all living things. They also have intelligence, if you doubt this, listen to Paul Stamets about fungi. After a quarter of protein chemistry I stopped buying commercial meat. I go out and visit where my animals are raised to make sure they have happy lives as I don´t believe I can be healthy eating sick animals. I also have been known to kill my own as then I can be certain it was humane. Roosters are easy to kill as they are incredibly obnoxious.
As for those deer, they slowly die of starvation and disease when allowed to overpopulate. Deer murdered my baby fruit trees when I was a child and I have not forgiven them. Large rats with legs that spread giardia and perform kamikazi missions against motor vehicles.
I wound up killing my own lambs with friends because I could not find professionals who would keep all the edible offal for me. Every part of those animals got eaten. Meat eaters need to return to eating everything as we have become wasteful.
Another reason to eat pastured meat is that a much smaller serving is satisfying. I could never go back. I flirted with vegetarianism when my mom had a vegetarian phase and due to poverty when I was young. Never worked for me. I believe it depends on one's genetics and climate.
I believe there would be a larger demand for ehtically raised meat if people had any clue about what is happening in those CAFO operations.
For any readers in the DC area, Polyface Farm really is all that. Best tasting meat on the planet and not a fly or bad smell on the whole farm, which is open to the public and completely transparent about how they raise the animals. I still dream about that bacon.
This is the best thing you have ever written, both as a writer and as someone seeking to be a better person.
If one has a vegetable garden then you have a very different view of deer. They are destructive, giant horned rats.
Loved this one so much, Jared. Vegetarian for 31 years, for these reasons exactly - even though I grew up on a rural Oklahoma farm. Maybe BECAUSE I grew up on a rural Oklahoma farm. In any case, thanks for writing - this one and all the rest.
Admittedly in the minority of your readers here, and that’s fine. But I’ve never understood this argument of ‘nobody likes to think too hard about where their food comes from’ and ‘anyone who spent time in a slaughterhouse would lose their taste for meat.’ Seems like an opinion that’s reinforced by the echo chamber of a life within city limits. Many (most, if we’re being honest) people I know who’ve slaughtered get hungry while butchering, including myself. I agree with most of your takes on life and I have no problem with people who want to be vegan or vegetarian or whatever floats their boat. But the take of ‘I eat meat because I couldn’t go without it’ and also ‘it’s immoral to kill an animal’ is a tough mental hurdle. That said, I’ve got plenty of emotionally-fueled logical inconsistencies of my own - part of what makes us human I suppose.
Your wife named her chicken 'Roast' (Choma) and 'Chicken' (Kuku)which is utterly hilarious. I watched one of those documentaries that about how animals are slaughtered and it really put me off meat for a long while. I think you are right that people will get more woke about meat but I don't think it will happen until Gen Z are in their 30s.
Anthropomorphic feelings aside and a gross simplification perhaps- but I think you are overlooking a predator-prey relationship. I watch bears and wolves take down elk or bison and that's just as natural as me eating a elk steak from the elk I harvested.
Just as there are animals who would snuggle up with you, there are also animals who would stomp you into oblivion as well. Nature can be flat out nasty and angry just as the worst of humans can be.
Jared, whatever it is you have been through (and we all go through stuff) it has lead you to becoming a sensitive person, in a good way. It takes words like yours, at a very personal level, to make clear how appalling our treatment of most animals is. But you also believe in God or some higher force, and whatever that may be it has created a world wherein some animals eat others. I am a passionate hunter, for meat: not for trophies, and everyone has to draw their own line somewhere. I can live with hunting only for my own food. Yes, there is pleasure in hunting: there have been entire books written on why. Some say it resembles sex, others say it compensates for feelings of inadequacy. I haven't been that deep and I don't know why beyond that I love doing it. I love the outdoors and I have a well-balanced diet, with some protein in the form of meat. But years ago I stopped buying meat in the supermarket. To each his or her line.
We evolved into the greater apes because our brains were able to use the animal fat we consumed for higher level thinking. Your brain and body needs animal fat to function properly, that’s why you crave it.
Veganism is a construct of the 20 century abundance from industrial farm production, petroleum based fertilizers, the Haber Bosch process, and the Norman Bourlag green revolution in wheat production. Without these the vegans would have all died out in the world wide famines.
Intellectually you've spelled it out, but realistically "I just can’t do it." Why is this?
We don't eat a lot of red meat anymore, it's more from a too stupid expensive. We (husband and I ) could never be vegan or vegetarian because we LOVE bacon, there's too many veggies we don't like and having been born and raised in New Orleans, you'd have to pry seafood out of my cold dead paws.
Like Liz, D. Wade and Simon, I have a different perspective on this issue. My grandfather lived farm/field to table his whole life, long before it was a “thing”. He did it out of necessity to feed his family because he was poor. He and my grandmother lived in a small frame house on one acre of land. Every available inch of that land was put to use. He grew all his own vegetables, raised chickens, and harvested pecans, figs, peaches and pears. The meat we ate at their house depended on what hunting season it was. He hunted doves, ducks, turkeys, quail, deer and fished the local lakes. He did all his own butchering and made his own jerky and sausage. It was only the rare special occasion we ate beef from the store. Whenever we hunted together, and even though he was an atheist, he would always pause to reflect and appreciate what nature had provided his family and give thanks for it. Most people today have lost all connection or appreciation for where food comes from and what goes into bringing it to the store.
Trying to emulate this lifestyle living in a modern city is difficult. But we go out of our way to buy produce and grass-fed beef, lamb, pork and pasture raised chicken from a local farmer’s market, and we go to restaurants that do the same. And yes, I still hunt dove and quail, and a deer or two each year.
Nothing humankind can come up with will ever beat organic farm/field to table diet. No pesticides, herbicides, GMO’s, fillers, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, etc. Just pure nutrition from nature. If you think “lab grown meat” will ever be healthier than this you are fooling yourself. Whether you like it or not, humans are part of the food chain and animals die. Even if you are vegan, the fields that produce your food destroy habitat and kill animals in the process. Rant over.
dude my sentiment exactly. i went veg and my guts got really bad and animal protein just seems to work for me; however, i think the ethics and suffering of animals totally points to us either being like natives who give utmost thanks for the sacrifice and eat nose to tail, or do it all veg/plant based. However, new science shows that plants even emit high frequency when about to be slashed...when consciousness is THE substrate of existence, it doesn't surprise me. I'm all for lab grown meat...bring it on. One thing that's pricy is Maui Nui venison, but really good and really humane (and the axis deer are invasive species). I get the jerky sticks.
BTW in the Power of One peekay has that type of relationship with the chickens.