Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Giving Up Meat...again.

Once upon a time I was a vegetarian.  For four years.

It wasn't difficult, really...I was young, I lived with a bunch of friends, and we were dirt poor.  Meat costs a lot of money, and we were able to buy a cardboard box full of canned food for $5 (as high as we could pile it).  That left us with about a hundred cans of veggies.  So, we'd make "shmeg".  Sounds lovely, right?  LOL

We would dump whatever canned goods (peas/corn/beans/mushrooms/etc.), we had into a big pot, add a can of tomato sauce, some curry, and let it cook.  It'd thicken up, and we'd eat it on toast.  LOL  Yum.

Well, now, 10 years later I was sitting on the fence on whether or not to go veggie again.  And really, the only time I even eat meat is when it's something like bacon...which barely counts as meat, right?  Or there will be odd time I'll use chicken in a stir-fry.  But...the last time I made a stir fry, I made it with tofu, and no one even noticed.  So I'm not afraid to starve and die if I give up meat.

As much as I'd wanted to remove meat from my diet, I knew it was going to be harder than it was before.  Now I have a family that I need to think about too.  I have three young children, and a husband that I'm pretty sure could survive on meat alone.  The day HE gives up meat is the day the sky falls.  As for the kids, the little one is a huge meat-eater.  If she has six piles of food on her plate, and one is meat, she eats that first.  Always has.  My son will eat meat after his veggies.  My Ooie McGooie really doesn't eat much meat, and I've joked that she was born a vegetarian.

It's not as though I'm feeding them hotdogs (well, not normally...but they DO eat those "Country Naturals" hotdogs from time to time when we can get them on sale.  I'm not going to lie about it!)
Anyway, the meat in our house is normally things like roasted chicken, bbq'd pork chops, or roast beef.  I prefer things I can cook along with vegetables...in one big pot.  But I'm not going to stop my husband from bbq'ing.  He just got a huge, brand new one.  I think he loves it.  And it's less dishes.

The problem I was having with going meat-free is the fact that I'm going to have to make two separate meals...one for them, and one for me.  And honestly, as much as I can cook (I can COOK), I am not a fan of spending my day in the kitchen.  I already cook 3 meals a day, plus end up making the kids 3 or 4 snacks.  They eat non-stop.  No kidding.  It's a pretty good thing they love fruit and vegetables, because if we were one of those Twinkies and Pop Tart families, they'd be 400 lbs.

So yes, I am citing "laziness" as the reason it took me so long to make any kind of real decision.  (Saying I was "thinking about it" was a pretty good way to get people to think I was actually going to choose what I wanted to do either way.)

Then, thanks to a very sweet friend, I ended up watching the following video:


If for some reason you have problems being able to see it, you can find the video right HERE.

The documentary I posted up there opened my eyes to things I didn't know.  Maybe I wish I didn't know them...I kind of preferred to walk around with my head up my ass just assuming that all meat animals lived some kind of lovely life for years before being killed humanely.  Well, sorry folks.  That's not the reality of it.

I'm honestly CHANGED from what I saw.  I am someone who has worked as a meat-wrapper, I've worked along side a butcher and held those 1/2 cows up so they could cut them into smaller, more workable pieces.  I've scooped chicken gizzards from a bag and put them into plastic containers with my hands.  I have had blood covering my white apron, and up to my elbows...and never thought twice about it.  To me, those things bleeding on me were chunks of meat.  Meat.  Not chunks of a cow that was treated like shit it's whole life, only to be tortured during it's death.

It really does explain why the last butcher I worked with told me that all butchers are alcoholics.  He told me they had to be.  And at the time I thought maybe it was something he hadn't meant to say, so never pressed him about it.  But after watching this......he wasn't a bad man.  He was a good man.  People are, generally, good.  And that's why I think these butchers are alcoholics.  Because how can you kill something that did nothing to you, then cut it up into pieces (EVERYDAY OF YOUR LIFE), and not end up being haunted by it??  **And I'm not saying that EVERY single butcher in the entire world has been, or will be, an alcoholic.  But the five I've worked with in my life...they all were.  And it was the words of one that brought that to light.  If you want to argue with someone about it...argue with him.  lol  Though I don't think that's probably a great idea...**

Anyway, I've stopped eating meat.  I've stopped making excuses as to why I think it's okay to eat it, and stopped.  Because I think that before we do something...whether it is circumcision of our baby boys, choosing to have an elective c-section, or eating meat, we should have to see it for what it is.  The truth of it.  Not the PG-Rated TV version of it.  The TRUTH.

I think that after we see that baby boy's face turn purple as a Dr. peels the skin away from his tiny penis, we suddenly become aware of the gravity of the situation.  I think we can no longer deny that it is extremely dangerous, painful, and traumatic for someone who is brand new here.  Someone who deserved to be protected from harm.

When we see a brand new baby being pulled by the head out of it's mother's body with no care being taken to help him/her enter this world in a peaceful manner, we suddenly become aware of the reality of it.  It's not what we assume it is.  It's not butterflies and unicorns.

And, when we see how the animals are treated as nothing more than a commodity, only here for our benefit, who's lives are not valuable or worthy of any type of respect, we can no longer deny that the steak on our bbq didn't just fall off of a cow that died of natural causes after a lifetime of frolicking in a field of clover, crapping rainbows.

I am, several days later, still somewhat in shock about the things I saw in "Earthlings".  And it's not as though I live in some bubble.  I don't.  I knew those animals met an untimely death.  But I had no idea it was that horrible.

On top of all the MORAL and ETHICAL issues that surround eating meat, there are also medical issues...ones we all know about, but choose to ignore.

One of those things is the synthetic growth hormones they use.  I got the following statement from HERE:
Do hormonal substances given to cattle impact human health?
“Hormonal substances” is a term used to describe sex hormones given to cattle. Health Canada has approved three natural hormones and three synthetically produced hormones for use in cattle in Canada.
Many experts and agencies, including Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, have reviewed the safety of hormone use. At present, there is no evidence linking the use of hormonal substances in cattle to health risk in humans.
Now my two cents on it is that using sex hormones on meat that will be consumed by humans cannot be without risk.  Why is it that there are so many girls who are hitting puberty at such a young age?  Why is it that it's not uncommon for a 9 year old girl to get her period?  Maybe it shows my age, but back in MY day it was a whole lot closer to 14 years old before that happened.  Were cattle treated differently back then?  Maybe.  And maybe it's got nothing to do with hormones in beef.  Maybe it's our environment.  Or maybe it's both.  I can't say for sure.  Even if I had proof one way or another, there'd be some link to information out there that would say I was wrong.  There always is.  (The joys of the internet!!)
For those who will not be swayed in the way of buying the meat, the above link also provided this:

"Having said that, if consumers want to consume beef that has not been given any hormonal substances, they have the choice of purchasing certified organic beef."

I found these alarming stories when I started digging around:

As for milk, I did find the following statement from Natrel (find more information HERE):
Does Natrel milk contain any artificial growth hormones or antibitics or preservatives?
No. All Natrel milk is free from artificial growth hormones, antibiotics and preservatives. In Canada there are very strict rules governing the milk supply and inspection and testing both at the farms and dairy processing facilities to ensure the safety and quality of our milk."
The following came from Dairy Nutrition.ca


Are there antibiotics in milk? Dairy regulations in Canada are very clear. When a cow is receiving medication, the dairy farmer must follow strict protocols.

Farmers place a high emphasis on the safety and health of their cows. Just like humans, cows sometimes get sick, and when they do, they may need medications such as antibiotics. Antibiotics are administered only in case of illness to preserve the health and well-being of the animals.

The cow undergoing antibiotic treatment must be clearly identified. The farmer continues to milk her, but her milk must be discarded for a mandatory withdrawal period until her system has cleared the medication. Very strict penalties apply if regulations are not met.
And as for growth hormones to increase milk supply, I found the following information HERE:
"Growth hormones to stimulate milk production are not approved for sale or permitted for use in Canada. To maximize milk production, producers make sure that their cows are healthy and well-nourished.
In Canada, no cow can be given artificial hormones to increase its milk production. This means that no milk, cheese or yogurt produced in Canada contains these hormones.
To optimize milk production, our farmers use state-of-the-art methods. These techniques do not require the use of hormones and are based instead on traditional good practices, meaning that cows are kept healthy and well fed.
Although Health Canada does not permit the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), this growth hormone is legal and considered safe in the U.S. and other countries."
And so, after some research, I'm still going to be drinking milk and eating cheese.  (For now, anyway.)  But meat is a thing of the past for me.  And I'll still cook it for my husband.  Whatever.  I will never get him to watch that video, and he'll stick to his guns and say animals were given to us to be eaten.  And, as much as I know that in theory he's right, I don't think it was ever supposed to be this way.  I don't think animals were given to us so we could pack them into stalls and beat them with wrenches, and skin them alive...  Because the reality of it is that I'm not against eating animals.  I'm against the mistreatment of animals, and the torture inflicted upon them in order to kill them.  I think it could be so much better.  I think those animals could live their lives with some respect, and some love, and deserve some basic rights.  And I think that there are much better ways to kill an animal that doesn't make it suffer.

Well, I'm going to stop now.  And before I go I want to say that I don't think that anyone is a bad person for eating meat.  Because it's pretty hard to know what no one tells you.  And if you can continue to eat meat after this, no one will ever say that you aren't aware of the truth.  All I want is for people to know the truth.  All I want is for people to live in reality.  I can't make anyone stop eating meat.  I can't make anyone do ANYTHING.  But what I HOPE to do is just open some eyes.  

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