Flesh Choice: A Meat Lover's Guide to Giving It Up
By Sarah Miller / grist.org

I once saw a turkey carcass in a New York City garbage can. It did not look good. I said to myself, I’m never eating meat again. A few hours later, I ate meat.

If you have ever driven between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the 5, you may have seen a disgusting cattle ranch on the east side of the road. It is like an insect swarm of cows. I have driven by this ranch many times, and sworn I would never again eat meat. And a few hours later, I eat meat.

I really like meat. I like steak. I like chicken. I like pork a great deal. If I had to pick a favorite meat, I’d pick lamb.

I never thought I would bother trying to give up meat. But now that I’ve been writing for Grist for about six months, it’s impossible for me to ignore the fact that meat is not just bad for animals — it’s bad for the planet.

cow-eye-balls-meat

In case you don’t know why, here are several reasons: Livestock use about 30 percent of the world’s arable land. Livestock are responsible for about 18 percent of greenhouse gases. Raising livestock uses up as much as five times the amount of water it takes to raise a similar amount, nutritionally, of plant-based food.

So I have decided to go six weeks without eating meat.

This is not my first time giving up meat in earnest. I’ve had skirmishes with vegetarianism before that did last more than a few hours. There was a period in 1996 when I first got into yoga. There was another a few years later, after I read an article about chicken farms, or maybe meat farming in general. (I don’t remember what it was about except it was in Granta, it was about meat, and it freaked me out.)

I’ve decided not to eat meat because it’s healthier, and because it’s better for the planet, but mostly because deep down, I think eating animals is weird. I suppose it was one thing when you had to kill the things yourself, but now they are just mass-murdered and delivered to us in packages. It doesn’t seem like a fair fight. Anyway, many thoughts and ideas have led me to explore vegetarianism. But only one thought has ever made me stop exploring it, and that thought is “mmmm … meat.”

Enough about meat — let’s talk about you. You’re a Grist reader, so none of this information is getting to you for the first time. But are you actually a vegetarian? I don’t pose the question in a judgmental way. I mean, I know all of this stuff, and I still eat meat. Partly because I like it, and partly because the environmental “community” (I consider the environmental community to just be a very large collection of people with various levels of commitment and interest in this subject) provides plenty of escape valves for people who want to consider themselves environmentally aware but also still want to eat meat.

Meat’s OK if it’s organic. It’s OK if it’s local. It’s really great if you bought it from someone you know and especially somehow if you bought a whole cow and it’s in your freezer and you’re supporting the local economy. But who actually eats meat like that? I don’t. I mean, I do eat all that good healthy acceptable meat, but then I eat all the other meat too. Trying to keep your meat-based groceries happy, free-range, and local doesn’t work all that well if you then get drunk and eat the shit out of some General Tso’s.

I can’t undertake this six-week thing pretending it’s the beginning of forever. Maybe I will have some kind of vegetarian conversion experience. Maybe I won’t. But the last times I decided to stop eating meat, I didn’t provide myself with any continuing education that might have helped me to, well, not really want to eat meat.

So this time I am not only not going to eat meat, I am also simultaneously going to read a lot about meat and what it takes resource-wise to produce it — so that this information is doing more than lurking in the back of my mind in some half-remembered Granta article or image of a pigeon-pecked turkey carcass. I’m going to learn about slaughterhouses. I’m going to look at pictures of dead animals and read books about them. I’m going to try to watch someone kill an animal. I’m going to find out about what industrial farming does to animals and to the planet.

And after all of that, well, maybe, I’m still going to really, really love meat. The truth is that no matter how much I know intellectually about how bad it is for the planet, if I have an appetite for it, I’m going to eat it. I think willpower is bullshit and a lot of scientists tend to agree with me. If I actually stop eating meat, it will only be because I have really lost the taste for it — and that’s why, at the end of this experiment, I might surprise myself after all. Because it’s my sneaking suspicion that the more you know about meat, the less you actually want to put it in your mouth.

I leave you with an adorable video of a lamb that I watch every morning to fortify myself against the coming day and moments when I might be tempted by meat.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Rap News Special Edition: Hillary Clinton Vs Donald Trump
7 min · 18,357 views today · Hello world. RAP NEWS is back for a special episode on the 2016 USA Election mayhem, feat. Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump + a touch of Jill Stein & Gary Johnson. This one's...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 14,461 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 7,328 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
The Culture of Maximum Harm
Daniel Quinn · 6,416 views today · People have lived many different ways on this planet, but about ten thousand years ago there appeared one people who believed everyone in the world should live a single...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 6,404 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 6,310 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
The International Criminal Court May Start Prosecuting People Who Commit Crimes Against the Environment
Tara Smith · 3,956 views today · The International Criminal Court is not known for prosecuting people responsible for huge oil slicks, chopping down protected rainforests or contaminating pristine land. But...
Humanity's Greatest Challenges Aren't Technical, They're Human
8 min · 3,937 views today · Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is incomplete as we commonly know it. Later in his life, Maslow wrote about a stage beyond self-actualization. Nichol Brandford explains how to...
Caitlin Moran's Posthumous Advice for Her Daughter
Caitlin Moran · 3,395 views today · My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to...
The Journey From Syria (2016)
71 min · 2,841 views today · Reporter Matthew Cassel spent a year documenting the journey of Syrian jeweler Aboud Shalhoub as he travels from Turkey to Greece, and through Eastern Europe to the Netherlands...
The Left Deserves Better Than Jill Stein
Kate Aronoff · 2,699 views today · Stein’s Green Party run doesn’t offer a plan to win, or to build power. The Left is capable of so much more.
Prince Ea Just Put The School System on Trial and Found it Guilty of Killing Free Thought
6 min · 2,341 views today · Albert Einstien once said "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". Today Prince...
The Little Engine That Couldn't: How We're Preparing Ourselves and Our Children for Extinction
Daniel Quinn · 2,198 views today · In a recent semi-documentary film called Garbage, a toxic waste disposal engineer was asked how we can stop engulfing the world in our poisons. His answer was, "We'd have to...
10 Shocking Facts About Society That We Absurdly Accept As Normal
Joe Martino · 1,982 views today · When you take a moment and look around at the world, things can appear pretty messed up. Take 5 or 10 minutes and watch the 6 o’clock news. Chances are, the entire time, all...
This Satirical Trump Vs. Bernie Debate Is Both Hilarious and Highly Disturbing
44 min · 1,663 views today · Comedians James Adomian (Bernie Sanders) and Anthony Atamanuik (Donald Trump) bring two of the most controversial candidates in history, head-to-head, or rather bald-to-toupee...
Debt, Inequality and the Logic of Financial Violence
David Graeber · 1,628 views today · Five years after Occupy, organizer and anthropologist David Graeber speaks to ROAR about the power of finance, the history of inequality and the legacy of the movement.
10 Photos That Show the Magnificent Light Shining on Standing Rock
Josue Rivas · 1,488 views today · Despite all the news of pipeline regulation, court appeals, and activist arrests, Native photographer Josue Rivas reminds us that it is actually a peaceful place.
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,247 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 1,082 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 914 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Flesh Choice: A Meat Lover's Guide to Giving It Up