Thursday, February 26, 2009

The "Meat Ordeal"

This picture was entitled "Cows in the Mist". Isn't that a hoot. I like the white one. It looks like she's got shaggy hair on her poll.

But seriously. I picked up a couple of books at the library about agricultural farming and animal welfare. Now, I already knew about the horrors and maladies associated with containment animal production facilities (aka Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations - CAFO for short), but I wanted more info.

Both of these books are well written, and the authors are activists and animal advocates in their own rights. They're also both vegetarians. In these books, I believe they are not only trying to open the readers' eyes to what goes on in feedlots all across the country, but in a way, I think they're trying to turn people into vegetarians.

I have nothing against vegetarians. As a matter of fact, my wife and I were vegetarians for awhile before we had kids. Thinnest I've ever been in my life - hmmm, maybe I should try that again (NOT!). But I believe there are different reasons for doing a thing. In this instance, I feel that the authors are vegetarians because they believe that raising of animals to be used as food is morally wrong. I, however, do not. Of course there are the health concerns. Do you KNOW where the meat in that burger you ate came from? Best not to think about it. I do most of the shopping for our family. I know the ills inherent with most of meat I buy. Even Tyson chicken, though labelled as antibiotic free, still contains traces of the stuff. But it's not enough to turn me vegetarian.

See, I realize that animals have personalities, express emotion, have intelligence to their respective degrees, can express affection or disdain. However, I feel that to give an animal the same protective status that we would give a human (less and less these days), is wrong. Why? Because humans are the only creatures God breathed life into and gave a soul to. That makes us special, unique, different.

Now believe me, I think the kind of life 90% the meat animals in this country live is awful. CAFO's are a bane to health, environment, and economy. I believe that if you have animals you're raising for food, you are obligated by the Biblical mandate to have dominion over the Earth, to not abuse what you've been entrusted with. Meaning, you should do all you can to ensure that your animals live healthy lives with as much access to sunshine, fresh pasture, clean and safe housing, and plenty of room to move around, as is within your ability to provide it. So that when the time comes to "Say goodnight, Ruthie" and put the chickens in the freezer, not only will they be healthier to eat because of the life they lived, but they will not be full of stress hormones to taint their meat. Further, you can do your butchering knowing that you aren't just taking life from the birds, but that you also gave them a good life in the process.

So what does this mean to me? Well, my wife still isn't a big fan of red meat. My daughter has also periodically shown some distaste for it as well. So really, I should probably look at ways of cutting it out of my diet a little more. I do have sources for grass-fed beef and pastured chicken. Both, however, tend to be a bit on the expensive side. I suppose if I cut the meat intake down to only a couple of times a week max, then it would be more economically viable. These are some of the reasons I want a place in the country. To raise my own food.

To cut the meat intake down will take some planning and forethought. Beans, rice, veggie stir fry, quiches, pastas - these can be done fairly easily without meat. And really, ground beef is about the only red meat we eat. Once in a while I'll buy a roast or stew meat. But I don't think my kids have ever had a steak. Maybe this is doable after all. Especially if I can and freeze more veggies this year. I'll let you know how it goes. Your thoughts?

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