Last year a New Yorker article came out that turned me vegetarian for a week. I had survived a college life filled with vegetarians–basically everyone I was friends with was a vegetarian–without my carnivorous foundations cracking. And then this article came along–a very shrewd piece about PETA–that brought the reader to chicken farms where rows upon rows of beakless chickens were anesthetized and staring into space, the smell of ammonia overwhelming the author (this is how we fatten our chickens: we keep them sedentary with drugs). This freaked me out. But not as much as veal.
Veal, it seems, suffers the cruellest form of regulated animal treatment. Baby cows are kept in individual pens without any room for movement. This is to fatten them up (similar to the chickens): the less they move, the fattier they get, and more flavorful. So the baby cow spends its entire life in a crate until its old enough to die, never moving.
When I finished my week of vegetarianism I vowed that I would become a more conscientous meat eater. The week without meat led me to believe that we are meant to eat meat: our canine teeth are exhibit A. The fact that meat is delicious is exhibit B. Evolution dictates that every trait is purposeful and deliciousness is no exception. We eat meat to maintain our place on the food chain. Otherwise, Tim Burton would direct Planet of the Cows and we would all have udders. Typing would be impossible.
Veal remained the exception. I said: “Everything but veal. It’s too cruel.”
Then last night happened. Was I drugged? Drunk? Under a hypnotic spell?
No. We were at Aria (already reviewed last times the parents visited). At that last visit, mom had the veal and raved the whole way home. We made our reservation last night because of the veal–it had such a powerful effect.
And, exploring the menu, my eyes kept shifting to the veal. It sounded delicious with porcini mushrooms and crispy leeks over mashed potatoes. How cruel is a pen anyway? Movement is so overrated. And the veal was already dead, wasn’t it? Ordering the veal would only bring the already dead baby cow from the kitchen to my plate…. they weren’t going to go kill a fresh one for me. If I didn’t order it, it would go to waste.
Ok, this is the same argument people make about voting: “I’m only one vote, I don’t matter, who cares if I go?” Sometimes I believe that. I lost my write-in ballot for Bush v. Gore and felt bad but not so bad until the TVs came on that night and I saw that it all basically came down to Palm Beach County: my county, my vote.
Now Bush is president and I ate this for dinner:
Can you forgive me?