Did tears trickle down my face as I took my first bite? No, they did not. That’s one thing that occurs to me now, how easy it is to take meat for granted when you eat it. Yes, I enjoyed myself–it’s a really excellent burger–but eating meat in America is akin to watching reality TV or listening to loud, repetetive music. It’s not something you really think about, it’s just something you do when you’re not thinking. And that, I think, is what this conversation about meat all comes down to: whether you want to think about it or not.
Two Christmases ago, I got into a huge debate with Craig’s sister, Kristin, in the car on the way to Christmas dinner. The debate boiled down to this: Kristin said eating meat was unethical but she chooses to be unethical and therefore she eats meat. I tried to argue that eating meat was, in fact, ethical because it opens you up to some of the best experiences life has to offer (travel, entering other cultures, people’s homes, etc). Kristin argued back that the good of having those experiences doesn’t outweigh the harm of eating meat. I see now that she’s right; we can all survive without eating meat. Not only that, we’d all be better off not eating meat–our bodies, the earth, the cows. And yet, we still eat meat, ethics or no ethics. We put our blinders on, bite into our burgers and bliss out.
So, using Kristin’s terms, I’m accepting my lack of ethics and plunging forward, still hoping to be mindful as I chug along but aware that if I’m going to eat dumplings in the San Gabriel valley, or boat noodles in Thai Town, the meat I’ll be eating is most likely not grass-fed, free-range, humanely treated, Pollan-approved protein. All I can do is try to do my best.