A Frank Message for Meat Eaters

By Betsy Bradford

A while ago, I posted "A Frank Message for Vegetarians and Vegans." Today, I'm going to turn my attention to a group of which I myself am a member: meat eaters. A few people are true carnivores (sometimes called "meatatarians," but the less said about that butchery of the English language the better). While many opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet, a 2008 study showed that only 3.2 percent of American adults are vegetarian. This means that most of us consume both animals and plants. Personally, I have no problem with this. Still, I find myself periodically haunted by a tee-shirt slogan: "I think, therefore I am vegetarian." Well, I'm a thinking person! Should I believe that one must opt for an herbivorous lifestyle if they stop to think about it? No. I do believe, however, that everyone really must stop to think about where their food comes from, and make their lifestyle choices accordingly.

Here's my frank message: meat comes from animals. I know it sounds obvious, but people often ignore that fact. That burger you ate for dinner last night didn't come from the diner. It came from a cow that was killed and ground up. The ham I'm preparing for dinner didn't just come from the grocery; it's a part of what used to be a living pig.

This is an uncomfortable thought for some. I don't think that anyone likes to think about animal slaughtering, but I believe that if you're going to eat meat or animal products, you must. After all, the meat on your dinner plate was once a living, breathing animal that gave its life to feed you. That's a pretty hefty sacrifice, and if you can't accept that, then you should be a vegetarian.

My omnivorous lifestyle is an educated choice. I thought carefully about animal farming and the meat industry, and decided to continue to eat meat. I did, however, make some changes in my diet. I seek out cruelty free options for my meat and dairy products. On the one hand, I pay more for my meat, milk, and eggs, but I don't mind. For one thing, I eat less of it now, and no one needs to eat a ton of meat. It also means that I waste nothing. Even if I’m making a recipe that only needs an egg yolk, I throw the whites in the freezer to save for a later use. An added bonus: happy animals taste better! If you're an eater of meat and you've never tried eating a responsibly farmed animal, give it a try. You'll be surprised.

Obviously you can be a thoughtful person and still choose to eat meat. I also believe, however, that if you're going to eat meat, you should make sure you're doing it responsibly. After all, something had to die for you to get your meal. That shouldn't be taken lightly. So don't try to pretend that your chicken appeared magically sectioned into breasts, wrapped in butcher paper, and deposited into the meat counter. You owe it to those animals to educate yourself and seek out the best options you can.