Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I think one of the interesting things about eating meat is how removed we are from the process. We never see the animal, kill the animal, skin the animal, carve the animal, drain the blood and dispose of the corpse. Moreover, when we get the finished product, we remove ourselves further by hardly even calling the meat what it really is.
We call it beef, hamburgers, brisket, bologna and never cow.
We often call chicken white meat, dark meat or buffalo wings...

I think that the very fact that we get queasy when thinking about skinning cows and carving the meat off their bones demonstrates a quintessential fact about our common meat eating tendencies.We think it is gross, but we like how it tastes.
However, I think that by removing ourselves so much from the this process, we downplay the status of living animals. From an standoffish place, we begin to equate objects and animals as equal objects. Just like how my chair underwent some sort of production and assembly line, so too did my meat. I don't care about the process, I only care about the end result.

This line of thinking is unfair. Not to say that we should not eat meat, but rather that when we eat meat, we should at least acknowledge that process and try to think a little bit more about where meat comes from. Animals and Minerals are not equal.

Interestingly, if you are to agree that we should think a little bit more about where meat comes from and not take it for granted, I think that you can also apply that to many aspects of life. The labor put into the creation of your possessions and the natural processes that enabled nature to produce the materials for our possessions both demonstrate a level of meaning that we often ignore, that I think can only enhance our daily experiences.


David said...

I agree with you readily! We really do need to think about where our meat comes from and about the animal.
"Schechting" the meat ties us in some respect to the animal. It can't be done by machine. We have to actually see the animal, understand that this is a living creature and we are using it for meat (disregarding the humane aspects).
It's sad that we've lost that traditional feel about animals and our meat. Back in the old shtetl you'd grow your cow, or buy one, and bring it to the butcher. Now that we are so widespread and live in such large quantities and eat so much meat, by necessity we've lost that connection.
In replacement, I agree - we do need to at the very least think about where the meat comes from. It will certainly build up our appreciation of the world and of our sustenance.

Ashira said...

There was a lot of talk about this at the Hazon food conference, and they actually had an option of taking part in a Chicken Shechita (they did a goat a couple years back)

You can find out about details here:http://www.hazon.org/go.php?q=/food/conference/2009FC/ChickenShechita.html

Most interesting is that there were vegetarians who ate it because they knew how it was raised and how it died, and there were meat eaters that wouldn't eat it for the same reason.

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg said...

You only talk about meat that we eat. What about the leather that we sit on or use for shoes? There are a whole host of products that are made from the carcass of the animal before it is "discarded". Should we stop using such products because we have become aware of how the animal died. In fact, this could even be harder because there is no reason to believe that the animal was killed humanely. Perhaps it died in an accident or from disease. The leather is still usable and so are the "non-food" products. If you think you are far removed from the meat you eat, think about how much farther away you are from the leather components of your sneakers.

Anonymous said...

When I go to a zoo, I enjoy the animals. When I go to a supermarket, I enjoy them too. Just in a tastier way...