September 6, 2011

What Happens at Family Dinner Stays At Family Dinner…but should it? ~ Sara Lindsey

My boyfriend eats meat.

Lots of meat.

When he and I first met, it was over a meal in South Africa. My plate was decorated with slices of various fruits, and his was a complicated array of textured muscle in varying degrees of brown. This seemed to signify who we were as far as our dietary choices go. I am not a vegetarian. However, when I do eat meat, it is infrequently, and mindfully.

There is a weekly tradition that he and his friends have called Family Dinner Night. Every Friday, they get together and make a meal, drink some beer, watch a game and make music. Since vegetables are complicated and most of these boys are picky, they typically stick with animal protein as the main course. They go to the local grocery store and usually pick up a pack of the cheap chicken wings or slabs of steak, and split the cost. It’s simple. Affordable. Something that everyone can enjoy.

 Unless you have seen what goes on in slaughterhouses.

He and I got into a discussion one night about Family Dinner, and why I usually don’t partake in eating what’s made. He is not ignorant, and understands my views, yet is willing to step over them in order to have a good and affordable night in with his friends. I called this kind of action “innocent gluttony” since these nights with friends are not vital to human life, but something that we do for the sake of pleasure, and essentially an act of innocence. It’s easy to say, “yes, genetically modified meat is bad, and organic meat is good,” without seriously knowing what that means. We know that famine is bad, but few of us have seen it with our own eyes. If we did, we may want to try and do something to stop it. In the same way, to know that cows are “really crowded” in the slaughter yards is very, very far from the experience of stepping ankle-deep into the shit that they have to wallow through, without any room to spare. Perhaps this is why slaughterhouses are so far removed, in the middle of Bodunk, USA where nobody can see, smell or hear them. If a slaughterhouse were accessible, and easily visible by the public, then the meat industry would fail to thrive. Nobody would want to touch the animals they were seeing for fear of infection, let alone put them in their mouths. 

There is a movement of independently operated dairy, chicken, egg and cattle farms beginning to boom in the US. Gardens are popping up everywhere- in back yards, school campuses, the White House…?! I’ve actually seen them in the heart of America, surrounded by slaughterhouses that have been bought out by Tyson’s, the Cattle Industry, and the other big scary guys. These smaller operations are successful, because the quality of the meat is great, the egg yolks are deep gold, and the animals are happy. Yet they live a nightmare every day, knowing that they are being watched. Owning a farm means sticking up for yourself. Some of America’s strongest patriots are the farmers who don’t poison their crops and animals to make extra dough.

Organic and free range meats, eggs, and dairy products are usually more expensive than the everlasting cheese cubes and dyed-white chicken breast found in the lunchmeat isle. The truth of the matter is that most of us in fact can afford the good stuff, we just choose to spend our money on other things. Other pleasurable things. For example, it is a personal choice to have coffee in the morning, and for those who go out to Starbucks every day, that’s $1.50 minimum. Round that up and it’s 10 dollars a week! That’s actually more than enough to get a very nice cut of meat from a local farm. Introduce a coffee-press or slow-drip to your kitchen and you’re in business!

Most of the time, all it takes is a little paradigm shifting. For most people this is asking a lot, and just like resetting a bone, can be an uncomfortable process. Yielding significant results for the future is a good thing though, right? Not just the future for our children and children’s children, but our own. Starting with comfort in our lives will surely lead to happiness for those who show up later down the line. Win-win! Family Dinner should be about family, and we are so much more than a planet populated by humans alone. The family of life travels from land to sea to sky. I guarantee that with a sprinkle of extended effort and maybe a few extra bucks, the meal will be better, and will create something with that extra awareness that brings people closer together.

For more detailed information, see the documentary video, “Earthlings” below (Warning: graphic content):


Sara Lindsey graduated from the Maharishi University of Management with a degree in Communications & Media with an Emphasis in Writing, since there wasn’t a Journalism major to speak of. Some of her past and current interests include but are not limited to: yoga, raw food, as much travel as possible, Swedish electro-pop, and riding her bike. Sara was born in Morocco, has lived throughout the US, and is a new resident to Boulder, Colorado.

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