Blog: Finding My Voice

Eaters of the Dead

Posted on October 16, 2011 at 7:00 PM


A dead cow or sheep lying in a pasture is recognized as carrion. The same sort of a carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher's stall passes as food.

~John Harvey Kellogg, M.D.

We humans are cannibals. We might not eat our own kind, but many of us don’t think twice about eating non-human mammals and other animals. I am not a vegetarian, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about the dichotomy between my love for animals and the fact that I consume the flesh of a chicken, pig, or cow in some form every day. I don’t try to justify my actions. I know that my body does not require animal flesh to be healthy. Millions of people have chosen to remove meat, fish and fowl from their diets and this has not had a negative impact on their lives or health. In fact, studies consistently show that people who consume less meat and more fruits and vegetables have fewer health problems and live longer than their carnivorous counterparts. I know through personal experience that I can remove animal flesh from my diet and that it isn’t difficult to do.

     Every year I give up something for Lent, mostly out of habit because that is what I did when I was a child. Lent is supposed to be a time of repentance and self-examination. I usually choose something I constantly crave like ice cream, candy, and/or chocolate to give up. This year I thought I would be more creative and decided to stop eating anything that had eyes...except potatoes. Everyone in my family thought I would fail miserably.  For forty days I ate grains, pasta, pizza, veggie burgers, rice, beans, peanut butter, and other foods that contained no meat. I became more creative at planning and cooking meals - stir frying with no meat, making my own pizzas, and trying different versions of meatless pasta. I also added lentils and beans to our meals and  tried  grains like quinoa that are high in protein. As the weeks passed, I found that I actually enjoyed not eating animal flesh and lost my desire to consume my animal friends. When my husband and I went out for dinner at a local steak house, I ordered a vegetable platter and was very satisfied with my choice. Unfortunately, after Easter I gradually fell into the old pattern and at some point began to consume meat again. My lunches still mostly consist of peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, hummas with crackers, or a salad, but I am ashamed to admit that fish, beef, chicken, and pork are now part of my evening meals.

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.

~ Sir Paul McCartney

     So why do humans eat animals? I think the answers are fairly simple. First of all, because we can. The animals that end up on our tables have no rights and no voice. They can't protect themselves from us. Second, humans are lazy. it is easier and more convenient not to be a vegetarian. When we are hungry, we can pick up something from the deli department at the local supermarket, order take out, go to a fast food restaurant, or put a hamburger on the grill or a chicken in the oven with very little thought or effort.  Third, we don’t  have to kill our own food. Their is a disconnect between a pig, cow, lamb, and fish...and what ends up on our plate. The majority of us don’t have to hunt or fish to put  food on our tables. We can go to a local store or market and purchase almost any kind of creature we would like to consume. The cellophane wrapped package that we bring home bears no resemblance to the living, breathing animal from which it was cut. The suffering of the animals being readied for market and their slaughter on the kill floors are far removed from us...out of sight and out of mind.

       Some things have changed at my house since I engaged in my Lenten experiment. My family no longer has meat, fish or fowl at every meal. More of the meals I prepare do not contain meat or meat is only a small part of the meal instead of the main focus. I have come to like quinoa and I try to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains in our meals. Now, when I look at the beef, pork, fish, chicken, and lamb in the meat aisle at my local supermarket I see beyond the packaging and acknowledge the fact that everything I am looking at was once as alive as you and me. At one time they all had eyes.

A hamburger stops a beating heart. ~Author Unknown




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