The other day I went to Costco with my older boy -- during the Super Bowl, for stealth. It took a bit of persuading to get him there, so I told him about the ladies who stand around and hand out food samples.
Everything was going fine. A mozzarella ball, yum. A little square of pizza, delish. Even the chicken taquito was tolerable. Then I made the mistake.
A hunched lady with a bright red cart was handing out small pieces of chicken breast in teriyaki sauce. Or rather, "chicken" "breast" in "teriyaki" "sauce." I had just enough time to notice the cheery Tyson logo before my attention was drawn violently to the gelatinous wad in my mouth.
Its texture was roughly akin to firm tofu. It tasted of ... nothing. Nothing but the hot, salty water that squirted out of it, mixing with the salty corn syrup coating it. It was a salty, spongy chunk of protein-delivery material, coated with corn goo. It could have been made of any uniform, tasteless matter -- but it was made of flesh.
I thought of hormones and antibiotics pumping into a fat, diseased, declawed bird in a tiny cage, whose every awareness or instinct or impulse is an epiphenomenal byproduct of the process whereby chunks of soft, unused muscle are generated. I thought of the bird going crazy and pecking the bird next to it, and itself, with what's left of its beak.
I thought of tens of millions of these animal-esque flesh-production units, packed into huge warehouses, inputting and outputting industrial waste products, all going crazy and attacking each other.
I ate that shit. And I put some in my child's mouth.
I'd already been feeling guilty about the comparative lack of thought I give to my food choices. But for some reason, this ... I still feel slightly nauseated thinking about it.
Anyway, that's it. I'm done with industrial meat. It's evil. And it's fucking gross.
I talked with my wife and we decided on what I think is a fairly reasonable set of five rules:
- At least one meal a week will be vegan.
- No more than one meal a week will include meat, and that meat will come exclusively from sustainable sources, mostly local.
- No more meat at restaurants. I'd bend on this if I knew the restaurant well and could trust its meat sourcing claims, but only then, and that's fairly rare. (This will be the biggest sacrifice for me, personally.)
- The rules are looser for the kids. We want them to learn to eat healthy food through eating and enjoying it, not through following rules.
- The rules are fairly loose for us too. We're busy; we'll compromise; we'll eat the food our parents cook us when we visit them. No stressing or guilt.
Happy? Now gimme some recipes!
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