Monday, January 07, 2008

The meat question

I've never been a vegetarian- I've always eaten fish and seafood. However, it's been 10 or 11 years since I stopped eating birds and mammals. (Anything else I'll try at least once.)

I don't eat birds and mammals mostly because of the way our food animals are treated while they're being grown; I've no moral problems with the actual eating of animal flesh. In that same vein, I don't care what kind of animals are eaten, either. Dogs, cats, horses, snakes, frogs, whatever. I eat fish and seafood because the farming/catching of them doesn't so obviously torture them. Maybe I just don't believe their pain is as acute as those of a battery-farmed hen or a veal calf.

More and more recently, though, I think about starting to eat all kinds of meat again.

As long as the meat comes from happy animals, I don't theoretically have a problem with it. At home, I can control this by buying carefully; there's lots of ethically-farmed meat available. (For Pete's sake, the cat eats chicken that's been raised under the watchful eye of the RSPCA!) (Not that watchful, obviously, says The Limey.)

Outside the house, I'll probably keep more or less to the same eating habits I'm doing now. I'm certainly not going to start eating mammals and birds just to eat chicken mayonnaise sandwiches from Boots. Restaurants are easy as well. If they don't say clearly how and where they source their meat, I'll stick with the vegetables.

My problem is what to do when I'm a guest at other people's houses? Obviously, it is rude to say, Yes, I do eat beef, but yours isn't good enough for me. And I refuse to lie about it. (Just as I refuse to say I'm a vegetarian to make my life easier- fish are animals, too.) For instance, The Limey's mother really tried very hard to make sure there was lots of choice for me at Christmas dinner. She wouldn't have done it, and I certainly wouldn't have asked her to do so, if I ate turkey and bacon and sausages. But if it was noticed that I didn't eat them, there would probably be some awkward scenes.

Any ideas from y'all wonderful readers?


Laura said...

I was just talking to David about this the other day!

I'd probably say you don't do meat to people you don't know well, and the full truth to ppl you do know well. People who know you will be ok with your being honest and can be honest back knowing you're not a preachy, judgy one.

jacqueline said...

I thought it was easier to find happy cows and chickens in the UK than it is over here.

See, I'm always nervous someone will try to feed me like beef or pork on an airplane (back when they served meals), so I always pondered the option to request vegetarian meals... but their veggie meals SUCK ASS. Here, have some... raw cabbage and cucumbers. wow, I feel sated.

I eat chicken and fish and seafood, you know that. I've always been open to bird. I don't say I'm vegetarian just cause my righteous brother (a REAL vegetarian) got really mad at me the one time I said that in front of him to our grandma when I didn't want to eat the pepperoni pizza she had bought.

However, I will say I'm mostly vegetarian if people ask. If they actually care to know what I do or don't eat, then I will enumerate.

I think it's fine for you to say you eat "cruelty free meat... and fishies."

P.S. when you were first talking about eating mammal and bird, I was wondering if you're preggers.

hana said...

I've been wavering lately, too. I've pretty much started eating chicken any old time.

I found that, although I started with the intent that I would only eat it rarely, and only organic free-range birds, it's turned into a pretty casual thing. I mean, when I buy it to cook at home I take care that it is the best I can find in terms of hormones and humane-ness. But when I'm out, I'll go ahead and order it even if I'm not sure where it's from. Same goes for when I'm at someone's house.

I still don't eat red meat though, but I think that's due more to the fact that it's not appetizing to me. I tried some duck the other day and it was gross. I think I'm just not up for the meatier meats.

So, for me, I just tell people I don't eat red meat, and that seems to go over fine. No one seems to feel threatened or insulted.

Otherwise, I think Laura has a good idea in her comment. You don't need to get into the whole conversation every time you eat in public, but people you get to know better will find out all your preferences in time.