The Mania For Meat

In yesterday’s Globe and Mail, Katrina Onstad questions the recent frenzy trend towards gorging on meat. As usual, the comment section of the piece devolved into the same old tired arguments of carnivore types ranting about how we were meant to eat meat and vegetarian types talking about how horrible it is.

Having been both a vegetarian and now an omnivore, I’ve see and heard all of these tired old arguments before. They’re particularly annoying in this case because not one of the commenters seem to get Onstad’s point, which is not a rant about how meat is bad, but rather to question why it is so trendy and more importantly, how folks in the sustainable food scene hide behind artisanal meat as an excuse for our own gluttony.

Certainly, if we’re going to eat meat, happy cows, chickens, pigs and goats are a good place to start as opposed to the factory-farmed stuff shot full of antibiotics, living their short lives without ever seeing the light of day. No one is arguing the fact that happy animals are better, not only in terms of animal husbandry but also in terms of taste.

But let’s not hide behind the grass fed cows, bug-eating chickens, or pigs happily turning up a field of sod. We’re still eating other living creatures **for our own pleasure**. You hear lots of refrains about environment, or preserving rare breeds, or supporting local farmers. But we all know the truth… the world would be better off – environmentally, health-wise, financially – if we didn’t eat meat. The figures have been well-documented – if everyone in the Western world cut their meat consumption by 10%, we could feed the entire planet. Shall I dig up some studies on the correlation of red meat and heart disease as well?

Onstad’s point is that we’re all patting ourselves on the back, pretending we’ve done something good, not just for the world, but for the pig, by eating its innards or cooking up a rare breed animal. Because then we can trick ourselves into believing that we’re part of the solution instead of part of the problem. But I’m thinking that, if the pig had a say in the outcome, he’d prefer to keep on living over being made into some fancy-ass charcuterie once he’s gone. We all need to stop pretending that eating meat is some kind of noble deed and come to terms with our own gluttony.