Episode 20: Molly's Surprise aka Factory Farming aka Meat Part 1
What has California done to me?
I know I may not be making friends with this episode's topic (and the two other episodes on this topic to come) in my home state of South Dakota. I know that for many people meat is not only a huge part of their lives but also their livelihoods, in the midwest, in California, and all over the world. I also know that I sit in a place of privilege and luxury that I can choose to not eat meat. But this is also *my* choice, one that I feel good about, further solidified by today's episode's research.
I've been grossed out by animal flesh for a number of years, and as I type this I get a visceral reaction in my stomach and throat at the thought of eating it again. In college, I tried vegetarianism a couple different times (I took Environmental Ethics at that time; the professor's worldview being "just stop eating meat, okay?") but I never really tried to make it stick until a couple years ago when I was taking my yoga teacher training and part of the class was trying to be vegetarian for the length of the 9-week training. Challenge accepted, and tbh I haven't looked back. I mean, yeah, there was a time recently that I was absolutely craving red meat - so I went to Veggie Grill (a California vegan chain) and got this burger that tasted and looked like the real thing so the craving subsided.
Now that I don't eat meat, I find that I don't not like food anymore. I used to not like some foods because it might have had ham in it or bacon or a piece of chicken was undercooked or the beef tasted gross. Now that that's not in my diet, I'm way less picky and I also just feel way better and happier. Does my diet make everyone feel better? Nope. Certainly not. I've had to justify my chosen dietary restriction on numerous occasions, and this episode's content is certain to make those to whom I've already explained myself just roll their eyes even more.
But you know what? I don't care. I care about animal welfare, the health and welfare of our goddamn planet, the impact that my life has on this planet. I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone becomes vegetarian or vegan because I don't think that's realistic by any stretch. I am suggesting, however, that people have a bit more awareness over where their food comes from and how it's being raised. I'm also not suggesting by any stretch of the imagination that I'm perfect or make all the right choices, or that these choices are right for everyone. I'm pushing the envelope and trying to challenge beliefs because, well, if you can't justify your actions, then why are you doing something to begin with?
This is going to be a three-parter, which might well be the longest I've ever focused my attention on anything. This first part is about the industrial farming of cows, chickens, and fish. Part two will be about the industrial farming of pigs, and what long-term diets heavy in these meats do to the body. Part three will be about labels (organic, cage-free, certified humane, etc. etc.), and how I would choose to shop for meat if I were going to still eat it.
There will always be a part of me that loves the smell of steak cooking over an open flame. I was president of Grilling Club at my college for godsakes. California has made me many things (i.e. myself) but there is part of me that will always hold on to my roots as a meat-eating midwestern, Now if you will excuse me, I have hummus and black beans to squash into a burger for my dinner.
Business Insider, Business Insider, Farm Sanctuary, Humane Society, NRDC, Huffington Post, Free From Harm, Rolling Stone, It Ain't Easy Livin' Green, Thoughtco, New York Times, Farmed And Dangerous, Humane Society, Humane Society, BBC.