Eating meat is my most noticeable, persistent moral failing, unless we count sloth, but I can’t reconcile those adorable furry little animals with deadly sin. I have more egregious breaches of ethical conduct, but not to the tune of four or five times a week. The consumption of animal flesh wins in the category of Willfull, Frequent Transgressions.
Theologians may disagree. If there are any theologians reading this blog, I’d be interested to know.
I’ve thought long and hard about meat eating in the past decade. I’ve concluded that I’m comfortable with the idea at its basic principle. For a while I pondered whether it was ethical for humans to exert their dominion over other animals. We alone among omnivores are capable of choosing not to eat meat; is it inherently wrong to exercise that dominion, when viable alternatives exist?
Probably not, I concluded. Vegans may disagree.
Evolution put us in a position to consume meat. With a bit of forethought, we can eat healthy diets without meat, without animal byproducts whatsoever—but with a bit of forethought, we can eat healthy diets that do include meat. Biology is on our side there. Nature intended us to have the option. I’m at peace with the idea, in theory.
In practice, the animals we consume usually live horrible lives. The food needed to maintain them taxes the earth, as does the waste they produce. In modernized economies, raising animals for food is destructive to the environment. And when you’re feeding tens of millions of people, food production necessarily becomes concentrated in an oligarchy of humongous factories. Agribusiness is huge, and when things go wrong, the ramifications are huge. e coli outbreaks in a pig plant in Virginia affect people thoughout the country and the world.
I tried vegetarianism once. It lasted for four months. Truly the only thing I missed was the pork dumplings you can get at Chinese restaurants. My experiment with vegetarianism ended when the heroin addicts above me vandalized my apartment by causing my kitchen ceiling to fall in. A vegetarian diet requires creativity and resourcefulness in the kitchen, qualities that are almost entirely absent in me as a cook in the best of circumstances. When my kitchen was destroyed I conceded defeat.
Sometimes I toy with the idea of attempting vegetarianism again. This would give me more energy to invest in my other moral failings. And, aside from the obvious benefits to the animals and the environment, and also to my wallet (a leg of lamb set me back twenty dollars and two hours yesterday), it occurs to me that someone of my activity level should maybe swing toward the animal-free sort of diet.
Through a program at work, I got a p*dometer a few weeks ago. I can never remember how to spell it. The root word for “foot” is sometimes –ped (pedestrian and pedicure, but not pediatrician, not pedophile) and sometimes –pod (cephalopod and podiatrist, but not iPod). I can’t be bothered to look it up, sorry.
So anyway, I got the footometer and have been wearing it daily for a few weeks now. I’m supposed to record my daily number of steps, with the goal of reaching 10,000 steps each day. Most days I come nowhere close to this, which serves only to make me feel guilty. I think it’s supposed to make me walk more, but that doesn’t take into account my propensity for the Deadly Sin of Adorably Furry Little Animals, nor does it factor in the obnoxiosly hot weather we’ve been having. If the weather ever settles back down into the crisp chill of the mid-80s, I might possibly consider walking a bit more, just to wipe that disapproving frown from the face of my footometer.
Meanwhile, with sloth going strong, I need to rein in another favorite sin, gluttony. These days I am eating a remarkably healthy diet served in strikingly modest portions, but the needle on my scale has staked its claim and cannot be coerced nor bullied downward. One possible tactical strategy would be to scale back the amount of animal tissue I consume. It’s not much by American standards, but it could be eliminated entirely.
Quite possible I am only thinking this way because I am still mad at the leg of lamb I purchased. In addition to matching my monthly energy bill in price (in a normal month like February, I mean, not from this past June, when I had to rob a bank to cover the charges), the lamb presented an affront to me by being fatty.
This is typical of lamb, I gather, but it was my first time ever trimming a big piece of meat. It occurs to me that lamb is not the ideal animal for one’s debut fat-trimming experience, especially if one has obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m guessing that other people have less fastidious standards, but I was not content till I’d sliced out every… last.. piece… of… fat. Which took two hours.
And the resulting lamb vindaloo? Okay, I guess, but I can taste too much of the cinnamon and not enough of the clove, ginger, garlic, cayenne, coriander, or cumin. Right now I am resenting meat in general and lamb in particular. As cute furry animals go, it has nothing on the sloth.