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
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 16,219 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 14,127 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 10,280 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 9,374 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 6,989 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 5,025 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 3,803 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,319 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 2,099 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 2,058 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 1,948 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 1,869 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,540 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 1,509 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,357 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,319 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,290 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 1,214 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 1,141 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
The 24-Hour Emergency Hotline for Syrian Refugees
7 min · 1,137 views today · Mohammed Abu Amar runs a makeshift 24-hour helpline from his flat in Hamburg, guiding scared refugees fleeing the violence in Syria across the water to Europe.  Despite losing...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Flesh Choice: A Meat Lover's Guide to Giving It Up