It’s been a recurring theme for me this year that 90% of the meat I eat is horrible, horrible crap.
Factory farmed, treated with anti-biotics and growth hormones, it’s not even really meat. And when it’s added to a pasta sauce or risotto, made up into a stew, minced into flash-fried burgersÂ or roughly cubed and wrapped in tortillas, it becomes little more than “generic protein” – something to bulk up a meal without adding anything much in the way of flavour and texture.
As for buying meat in AmericanÂ supermarkets… Chicken doesn’t look like chicken. Bleached white and sandwiched in plastic, it looks like the stuff of vat-grown nightmares. Beef is a weird colour too, as though the Meat Fairy came along in the night and painted it an unnatural crimson. Everything is… just a little wrong.
That’s not to say that there aren’t great pleasures to be had from meat. Purchased from organic sources, good butchers and quality-driven restaurants, a top-notch steak or a perfect slice of calves’ liver; a non-intensively reared chicken (carefully roasted)Â or a thick rasher of back bacon have the power to bring intense, mind-blowing pleasure to the diner.
I love good meat. I just don’t get to eat it very often.
Which is why I’ve developed a periodic vegetarian habit. Nothing big, really, but once in a while I consciously go a week or so without eating anything containing bits of animals. It’s a truly interesting experience, because it forces you to look at everyday restaurant menus through new eyes, and it also forces you to move away from the typical “meat+veg+veg” schtick which infects so many meal compositions. And here’s the thing – I actually feel better – more alert and more energetic – when I’m not sucking down cubed, processed bits of some poorly-treated farmyard beast.
And yes, part of what has prompted this post is the fact that I’m currently 5 days into one of my meat-free odysseys. This one was prompted by the fact that, just slightly hungover after last Saturday’s Yahoo! Year End Party, I snuck into a McDonalds for a couple of cheeseburgers and immediately felt heartily ill.
But anyway (to bring this all back to one of the major themes I seem to cover on 360 – sustainability), I’ve been thinking and reading about the environmental (and associated ethical) issues surrounding meat production recently, and various things have come to a head to make me consider seriously, for the first time in my life, whether I should think about making meat-free eating a little more permanent.
Which leaves you all free to have a good laugh at just how much of a West Coast Hippy I’m becoming these days.
More details on my meaty ethical musings and future plans regarding them will follow…