Monday, April 23, 2012 Is It Ethical To Eat Meat? - My New York Times Essay Contest Submission

So the New York Times put out a call for essays on the subject of the ethics of eating meat. I, of course, jumped at the chance to make my case in a humorous yet slighty intelligent manner. My mother was once published by the Times. It looks like I will have to wait for that honor - I was not one of the six finalists. But here it is anyway. Enjoy \m/

Why is it ethical to eat meat? Well, you wouldn’t want to let it go to waste, would you? Waste is a sin and that makes wasting meat unethical. Why waste a perfectly good complete protein? I mean, you could combine some incomplete proteins, like rice and beans, for complementary proteins, but if the meat is already sitting there going to waste… I mean, what are you going to do with the meat, just throw it out so it rots in some landfill? You can’t compost it. Are you going to bury it? Like a proper burial in a cemetery? That’s kind of a waste of space, don’t you think? I suppose you could put it in the freezer but that’s kind of a waste of space, too. You could keep a ton of uneaten rice and beans there, instead.

Actually, you know who might be interested in eating some of those rice and beans? Some of those heritage breeds that are going extinct because of the rise of commercial farming; I bet they’d love some rice and beans and maybe that spot of land you were going to bury them in to live on. It’s quite a shame, the loss of the family homestead. Maybe people have become so far removed from food production they’ve forgotten how important domesticated animals are to agriculture and to our survival as a species. Not only do they provide meat, they provide the power to plow the fields and the nitrogen to fuel them. Pigs root, chickens scratch; every animal on the farm has a job, and most of them roast up nicely. And even Hunter/Gatherer societies ate meat; I’ve never heard of Gatherer/Gatherer societies, have you?

Gee, if every community committed to saving just one heritage breed we could save them all, asses to turkeys. How hard can it be? Get a few Narragansett turkeys or Midget Whites and throw them in a coop. Let them lay some eggs and sit on them (the turkeys, not you) and then let the things grow up for a bit. Once they reach a certain age you’ll have to check them for the breed standard. You don’t want to breed sub-par turkeys. The ones that don’t live up to the standard of the breed that your community is trying to preserve you cull. Cull is a nice way to say kill – or you could give them away as pets, not to be bred. But let’s say someone in your community wants a nice turkey dinner for some special occasion. They contact the butcher, the butcher contacts you, you both decide who will do the dirty work and for what price the butchered turkey will sell, the family gets their turkey dinner and money has exchanged hands – leaving you and the butcher able to feed your families. And someone gets a turkey feather tuffet to sit and eat their rice and beans on.

Yes, I skimmed over the killing part a bit. It’s not pleasant, but unpleasant doesn’t automatically mean unethical. Over thousands of years man has learned how to utilize every part of the animal he killed, to not let any of it go to waste. They even made pink slime somewhat edible. (Don’t worry, man will find another use for pink slime; scented candles, automobile fuel, something like that.) And rice and beans will never go out of style. But here we are with dozens of breeds of domesticated farm animals who may go extinct if we don’t make an effort to save them. And, yes, that also means eating their meat.


emilyirvin said...

Hello Vanessa! Hopefully you're reading this. I couldn't figure out another way to contact you so I decided a comment on this post should suffice.
Anyway, I'm currently finishing up my senior year in high school and one of my final projects for theatre is to cast, direct, and produce a ten-minute play. I chose Pie and the Sky (excellent job on that by the way; kudos to you) and wanted to know if you had any suggestions. I'd read elsewhere that the script was inspired by a photograph. I'm really curious about what that photo was.. maybe it could inspire me too.
Anyway, thank you for your time and consideration. Hopefully I'll be able to produce a good show!

Emily Irvin

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