I'm not a vegetarian (although I'd like to be), but if I had to strangle every animal I wanted to eat with my bare hands, I'd probably become one quicker. Walking the supermarket aisles, it's very easy to look at all the neatly packaged meat, date-stamped and lined up in orderly rows, and think of it as, well, packaged meat.
But there is a danger in this abstraction, in keeping the blinders on, and considering what's on the shelf apart from what it goes through to get on that shelf. We're at the end of this food chain, but we are the ones supporting it. Likewise, we alone can change it.
Know What You Are Buying
When I buy something, I tend to stick local, with things that are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program for the simple reason that you know a bit more about what you are buying.
If it's a vegetable, you know it was grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. With meat, you know you're skipping out on the antibiotics and growth hormones. You also know farms have to use more earth-friendly practices: renewable resources and conservation of soil and water, for example.
When it comes down to it, I don't want to eat a chicken or an egg from a chicken raised in a chicken tower. I don't want to grill up a cow or lamb chained inside to a post for its entire life.
At times it can be more expensive, but I'd rather pay a bit more and know...than shut my eyes and wonder. And I sorta wish that my food wasn't as abstracted...I'd probably eat in a manner more in line with my values if it was.
Do you know where your food comes from? Would you eat as much meat if you had to kill the animals yourself? Comment below!
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Photos from top: Domino/Getty Images; ColorBlind/Getty Images.