Given that the industrial meat complex is “one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contribute on a massive scale to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and loss of biodiversity,” we should be mindful of what we eat. (As a side-note, please don’t let your kids wander around the industrial meat complex; it’s kind of easy to get lost).
But with the emergence of foodstuffs with names like “Tofurky,” “Tofutti,” and the dreaded “Tofuncula”; and food movements with names like “Freeganism” and “Locavorism,” some (who identify as regular folks) are hesitant to throw themselves head-long into these presumably godless, commie, hippy-dippy lifestyles. But there’s an obvious difference between trying to cut back on the consumption of animal products for logical reasons and taking on a cultural movement as the pillar of one’s identity (remember folks, you aren’t what you eat).
As Amurcans, we have to consume. However we’re fortunate enough to live in the digital age—if we so choose, we can empower ourselves with the totality of human information on the internet (though more likely we will play Farmville and repost chain letters on the topics we feel strongly about on Facebook (e.g., Obama’s incessant push for the legalization of gay-bortions, how women’s health centers give us the heebie-jeebies, the tyranny of government-mandated gravy rationing, Bieber Hairstyle 2.0, etc.)). If we aren’t sure how the proverbial sausage is made, we can Google “how do they make the sausage?” (Safe Search: On) and find out pretty easily.
Porcine seppuku is so delicious.
Therefore the “out of sight, out of mind” argument as it applies to the industrial meat complex is really just a sign of laziness or apathy. Now let me show you some actual pictures of actual cows from an actual industrial slaughterhouse.
Ah, a joke. Delightful.
If you need to see pictures like this to be convinced that you should be mindful of the meat you consume, it’s your choice to seek out these pictures. To use scare tactics here however would be offensive and moreover ineffective (See: How it’s working for PETA).
If you’re interested in learning more, you should see the film Food Inc for a well-rounded overview of the problems in industrial food production.
The world of meat alternatives is a weird one though, and I wish I would have had someone to help me navigate it. I ended up spending tons of money on organic ooze and processed soy glop that still visits me in dark and dreadful dreams. A lot of the meat substitutes you see at supermarkets are questionable in nature, so I want to help you find tasty meat alternatives.
Let me open the floor for questions:
A voice from the audience cries “What will the other guys at the office think if I bring in a veggie burger to work?!”
Another ejects “Hey! Where’d that guy get a pitchfork? I want a pitchfork!”
Calm down folks, in the same way the smoking Marlboros won’t make you John Wayne, eating tofu isn’t going to make you a hippy—you’ll still just be one of the guys.
Another voice: “What’s your point? Where do you fit into all of this?”
Ah, glad you asked. In the upcoming weeks I plan to start an open series (anyone who wants to add food items/commentary to this working list, feel free) on reasonable substitutes for animal products in culinary applications. My food philosophy is centered on taste, so I’m only going to advocate applications of meat substitutes where you’ll be hard pressed to taste a difference from the real thing or where the substitute tastes better than the original.
That’s it, there you have it. My hope is that these posts inspire you to try new things and practice personal responsibility.