Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meat Eaters

I live In Maine. Lobsters are part and parcel of our identity as a state. Mention Maine and often lobsters are the first thing many people conjure up. In the over all scheme of what keeps us a viable economic part of the national economy, lobsters play their part. But they hardly deserve as much credit as the legend would indicate. As a matter of fact, Maine is not just a rocky coastline inhabited by crusty fish smellin one eyed boat skippers with pipes hangin out their mouths. We have crusty swamp smellin one eyed lumberjacks also. But straightening out that myth is not the thrust of tonight's post.

Tonight I would like to discuss food. I spotted this cartoon and it struck me how judgemental people are about almost every facet of other peoples lives. Everything we do, say, support will be analyzed and found wanting by other people who are sure they know a better way. Pray to God and someone will say you are an idiot. Say something political and watch out. There is always someone waiting to tell you you are not only wrong but a traitor also. Everything is criticized. Even the food we stuff in our mouth.

I have no problem with folks not wanting to eat meat. My daughter went through four years or so of skipping meat for the most part. My wife is not a huge fan of red meat, so we don't get it as often as I would like. But mention lobster in front of my wife or daughter and they starting salivating. Their eyes cross and their minds find some pleasure place to dwell in for awhile. My two ladies love their lobster.

Me, well I like lobster well enough. I can take it or leave it. As shellfish goes in my heiarchy, lobster would fall behind Steamers, Oysters, and Crabs. I would never turn it down. But I am getting sidetracked here. Imagine that?

The Vegans and the other less strict non meat eaters have a tendency to go overboard with their condemnation of the grub the rest of us consume. The cartoon is a prime example. The protests up in Rockland, Maine when the lobster feast happens is another. These boneheads try to play to our compassionate side and say that it must be painful to be boiled alive and it is abuse to throw live lobsters in boiling water.

Well duh. I would imagine it is quite painful to be boiled alive. But I am not the one boiling, my dinner is. I try to be compassionate and concerned over the plight of most animals. I am sorry, but as an avowed omnivore (read-will eat anything not nailed down), and also a card carrying member of the group at the top of the food chain, I consider some animals food and other animals pets. There is no way around this. Every living thing consumes something less fortunate than itself.

Do you think a lobster concerns itself over the "life" of it's prey? Of course not. They see food, they eat it. Being scavengers, most of the time what they eat is already dead, but that doesn't get them off the hook. Their biological imperiative has no room for the feelings of what they are consuming. Just because I have the ability to bring some kind of ethical judgement to the things I do does not mean I am any different. I see food, I eat it.

So I would say that when it comes to condemning me for the food I eat, someone might have a better chance of getting my attention if they focused on how much food I eat instead. The same goal might be had. If I eat less food, then maybe another lobster lives.

Keep It 'Tween The Ditches..............
(633 / 8882)


Dawn on MDI said...

I we weren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat? That makes no sense.

A friend of mine considers it his duty to honor the efforts of thousands of countless generations of mankind for working so hard to get to the top of the food chain. After all that work, he says, who am I to throw it away eating salad. Besides, vegetables are what food eats.

Nosh on!

S.W. Anderson said...

Dawn wrote: "I we weren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?"

Careful, you, me and all humans are also made out of meat.

S.W. Anderson said...

MrMacrum, this is one where I think people are best off following their own conscience and sensibilities, and leaving others to do the same.

I grew up eating all sorts of meat, beef especially. At that stage of life, meat in the diet is important and the body uses it efficiently. As I've gotten older, I've gone to eating very little red meat and almost no beef. On the rare occasion when I have some, I don't have much.

I made this change because studies have shown red meat to pose health risks for middle-aged and older people, particularly those who don't do hard physical labor or exercise all the time. I'm also put off by the hormones and drugs routinely used on most cattle.

So, do I get upset if the muscular young guy at the next table is enjoying a thick, juicy steak or triple burger? No, not at all. I would just advise him to be prepared for the day when doing that kind of thing is no longer a good idea healthwise.

PipeTobacco said...

Mr. MaCrum:

Thank you for your very sensible essay. It is interesting that it fell at the same time as my own discussion about a large beef meal I consumed.

As I am an omnivore, I can, and have eaten nearly anything and everything just like yourself. And I encourage everyone to eat what they like.

My own situation is slightly unique in that I have grown over the last 20 years or so to probably eat on average only 1-2 meals with meat a week, and these meals with meat are typically turkey, chicken, or occasionally a fish.

My diet is not due to health concerns, or political ideologies, or cost... instead it is mostly that I just do not really enjoy beef, wild game, pork, or seafood (other than some forms of broiled fish). For whatever reason, my brain and GI tract tends to crave and enjoy far more items like beans, other vegetarian fare, dairy items, and a helluva lot of diverse spices.

That said, I do *hunt* deer, and although I haven't been particularly serious about the hunt the last couple of years (I mostly go to deer camp to act up a bit, drink, smoke, and play cards), I would and have bagged a buck several times. I give the meat to family and friends that enjoy venison. But, and this is the key (for me)... I DO HUNT because I think consumption of animals for food is a wholly appropriate thing, and I also think that everyone who does consume meat should willingly be a part of the whole process from the hunting to the eating... specifically to keep that tie to our origins and the natural world.

I think too many (not all, but many) political vegans, food extremists, and PETA people are too damn far removed from the real/natural world for their (and everyone's) own good. To deny our place in the food web as omnivores is to be blind to our origins.

And, just as an aside, why isn't it just as bad to take a broccoli plant, tear its body out of the soil and then shread and masticate the life out of it? Some politically minded yahoos get nearly hysterical for the cow when they see a person eat a hamburger, and that sort of thing galls me.

Again, thank you for your essay!


El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Well duh. I would imagine it is quite painful to be boiled alive. But I am not the one boiling, my dinner is. I try to be compassionate and concerned over the plight of most animals. I am sorry, but as an avowed omnivore (read-will eat anything not nailed down), and also a card carrying member of the group at the top of the food chain, I consider some animals food and other animals pets. There is no way around this. Every living thing consumes something less fortunate than itself.

Word, Brother Crum. Word.

I have a mild allergy to bi-valve seafood, so I cannot enjoy scallops and mussels in the quantities I would like. (Meaning I can try one or two but then I have to stop.) So lobster is something I consider a treat, and my wife and I try to have a feed or two every year, usually accompanied by lots of bread, potato salad, and a life-threatening dessert.

If others choose to avoid meat and lobster, for whatever reasons, that's their business. I just hope they don't consider my diet their business.

Mmmmm.... lobster....

BBC said...

I love a good Lobster but haven't had one for years, they are expensive. No problem with eating them, they are just part of the food chain.

I guess that I'd be willing to try about anything others eat. If I was hungry enough, even the neighbors dog.

Ever eat bear? It's pretty good. Don't think I've ever had horse, unless I didn't know it.

At the moment I'm eating some creamed tuna over toast, gasp, they killed wheat (also a living thing) to make that bread with. Oh well, to hell with it.

Anderson, some of these monkeys are pissed because they are small and made of meat.

BBC said...

And then there are those that eat monkeys, ha ha ha.

BBC said...

I might also have been known to enjoy a snack or two at the Y. Ha ha ha.

Demeur said...

Too bad vegetables don't scream when cooked. The Vegans would finished. What would they have left to eat? Rocks?
Lost my taste for lobster but I love a good prime rib. S.W. is right. When I'm not working I don't eat that much red meat.

S.W. Anderson said...

Pipe tobacco wrote, ". . . these meals with meat are typically turkey, chicken, or occasionally a fish."

Then you're typically dining on fowl or fish, not meat.

Snave said...

When I eat a burger at a restaurant, I just try not to think about whether or not the meat was mechanically separated and mixed in with the meat of hundreds of other animals. If I look at it that way, I get to thinking "I'm not just eating one cow here, I'm eating a couple hundred."

But I love a good burger... mmmmmm, burger!

I know, it's hard to reconcile my feelings for the plight of the animal with my hunger. My hunger usually wins out, but not always. Sometimes I go ahead and have a meal without meat in it. I usually feel good about that. I don't hunt deer or elk, but if someone is going to offer me some elk steak, I'll bite.

I once tried going meatless, and that lasted 43 days. On Day 44 I said "Hell with this", ran out and bought a package of hot dogs and some buns, and gorged. That wasn't such a great idea as things turned out, but gradually adding meat back into my diet went just fine. I think what I would ultimately like to do is eat meat 3-4 times per week and make up for the other days with meatless protein foods. I may be one of the only people in the country who does, but I actually like the vegetarian and vegan "hot dogs"!

Mac, I've never been to Maine... hmmm... that sounds like the beginning of an old Hoyt Axton song Three Dog Night made a hit of! Anyway, when I think of Maine I think of Mount Katahdin, Acadia National Park, Stephen King stories, and stories a friend has told me about blackflies. I don't think of lobster much at all... my mom tried cooking some once and the smell of it cooking just about made me sick to my stomach. It was almost as bad as the time she tried cooking some kidneys! Aieeee!!!!

I LOVE the cartoon, by the way! And your commentary is excellent as always.

Randal Graves said...

"Oh Lisa, it's lamb, not a lamb."

Dead cow parts are tasty. Of course, they're more expensive then dead chicken parts, so that's the usual purchase. I can see the vegetarian's point of view, and that's fine, but I tend to follow SWA's process when it comes to the red meat. Balance is the way to go. Unless you're a potsmoking olympian, then you need lots of red meat.

Kulkuri said...

Most of my time in Maine was in Bangor, so that's what comes to mind. As for lobster, I can take it or leave it. The Old Lady calls lobster coachroach of the sea, but I have eaten it and enjoyed it. Being an omnivore, I figure you should eat anything your body doesn't reject!! Or whatever you have a mind to eat.

stephi s said...


stephi s said...

People have done a lot of things in their past... It's not a good argument...
It's funny the the author takes offense to this funny cartoon. This shows an overall lack of empathy for other creatures regardless of your eating habits. You can still be a meat eater and be able to laugh at yourself... oh, I guess not...
Here's some factual education in the following link if you are truly interested in understanding the logic...