July 15, 2011
I had a recent argument with Dark Archivist. Let it be known that I respect her and her points of view. She introduced me to Poe (the singer, not the author). We have a mutual hatred for L Ron Hubbard. I think her blog is a great read and she even (successfully) called me out on a rant.
But I will not go quietly on this one. It’s on!
She asked how she could eat meat if she could never actually kill an animal. An academic question, sure, and one a lot of vegetarians ask themselves. She, as far as I know, is not vegetarian and is simply asking a question.
I, however, and an avowed meat-eater.
I eat meat because it’s a part of my culture. Meat-based dishes are everywhere in Mexico. From the summer carne asada to the oh-so-delicious carnitas, meat from chicken, pigs, and cows is used in virtually everything. And nothing gets wasted. We eat everything: intestines, brains, eyes, ovaries, feet, all of it. Rarely does anything goes to waste, so I feel good knowing the animal’s death was not in vain. It served a purpose and was not just left butchered for the vultures.
“But,” I hear some of you say, “today we have other ways of getting those proteins and nutrients! Surely the little piggies can be saved if we get our protein from beans and other plants, right? Are these dishes really worth an animal’s life?”
In the strictest, sense, yes. It’s not NECESSARY to eat meat in the most basic mathematical terms. I’d love to have beef more often, but hey, I’m on a budget. I can make do without it. A few months ago, I was on what could be described as a mostly vegetarian diet out of necessity. Mary is a wonderful cook who made some amazing dishes with what we had, and I actually think Boca burgers are pretty tasty.
But, by this logic, we don’t need things like flavor. That’s just extra, right? If you want to convince me not to eat meat because I can get the nutrients elsewhere, I will counter that you can get your same veggie goodness from shakes and pills.
Hell, if you want to go that far, eat algae. It’s good for you.
But maybe we get past this part of the argument. Maybe it’s not about the nutritional aspects of meat.
Maybe meat really is murder.
Something dies. We eat it. But did it have feelings? Did it feel pain?
Frankly, I don’t know. What to eat and not eat is a lot more about nurture than anything else. I have no problem eating a dish made of congealed blood and spices or eating a snail. I don’t even flinch at eating a bug. Why? My parents were wise enough to make sure I tried different foods and understood that what is acceptable to eat is very dependent on upbringing. Some people have no qualms about eating dog because that’s what was available. Bugs? Meh. Small brains. I doubt they have feelings. Cows? Maybe. Pigs?
This one’s the tricky one. Do we know animals are sentient? Do they have emotions? I don’t know. All I know is this.
I am not a cow. Or a pig. Or a chicken. I am a human being, an omnivore capable of eating plants and meat. Is it moral for carnivores in nature to kill for food? Of course. They must survive. Is it moral for humans to kill animals for food?
Of course. Frankly, vegetarianism, except for that mandated by religion, is insulting. Anthony Bourdain said it best in Kitchen Confidential. Willingly not eating meat is an insult to people around the world who can’t. It’s a luxury only someone relatively wealthy compared to the poorest people on Earth can afford. When you have the choice to be THAT picky, to cut out HALF of what you can eat by simple choice, I don’t think you have the moral ground to criticize those who have no choice in the matter or who choose to remain healthy by eating what is readily available to them. We are omnivores. That is a biological fact. Eating meat is the natural state of a human being. It’s what we came from.
And before you say, “But serial killers have a biological need to kill, so are you saying serial killers are moral, too?”
Well, no. They’re blips on the chart. They’re a chemical imbalance. A lot of them never had a chance.
Maybe the piggies and the cows have feelings. I’d prefer if they, just from the virtue of being living beings, didn’t suffer as they died for my meal, but a human life is worth more than an animal’s life… most of the time. I’ll admit to having had bosses I’d place somewhere between amoeba and dung beetle. If given the choice between killing a stranger or a dog, I’ll shoot the dog. But it will be quick. A person would have to be a HORRID human being to somehow move below the level of a chicken or a duck. Likewise, an animal would need to be an exemplary moral character. But I’ve never heard of an animal exhibiting anything that could be called free will. Animals imprint on humans. They become attached, but do they do it out of free will or out of biological necessity for protection?
I won’t stop eating meat on the assumption that since I don’t know, they must be sentient.
That being said, I just had a wonderful Pino burger at, well, Pino’s in Laredo. Check it out if you can.
Enjoy the weekend, folks. See you Monday.