What our dinner says about us

An interesting perspective in an article from Bettendorf.com:

 “As we depend on factory produced food, we become as much a product of the factory as have the animals on whom we feed. All of us, livestock and humans alike, are caught up in a system that is torturous to them and that dehumanizes us.”
I find the notion of our “dehumanization” very powerful.  It seems that many, if not most, animal welfare, vegetarian and vegan movements naturally focus on the animals.  What I find interesting is that very few focus on what it means for us humans. (more…)


Today I came across a blog post with some very insightful commentary (thanks to Pearl!) which led me to organize some of my thoughts, ideas and next steps, all of which are described on the newly added “approach” page.

“But if people don’t see the cruelty issue as enough motivation to overcome the availability / labeling / logistics / money issues, then the trick is to make it about *them*. Make it personally beneficial to them.”

What a great point!  What do incredibly successful businesses and individuals have in common?  They understand and live by the rule that no matter how awesome their products or ideas are and no matter how passionately they feel about them, the customer cares about one thing: “what’s in it for me“. And so they focus their marketing and selling efforts on answering exactly that question.

This insight has helped me change my approach from “help the animals” to “help yourself” which, I think, will be much more welcome and successful.  Pearl also mentioned the age-old proverb “you catch more flies with honey, than vinegar”, which is the idea behind Eating Kind and a good attitude to have in all walks of life.  All in all, it was a great and through-provoking read!

Fish discrimination

As I become more educated (or is it just aware) about the intelligence level of the animals that I eat (even the humanely raised ones) and start to see them on the same level as my dog and cats, I find myself salivating less and less often over those juicy steaks and pot roasts.

At times it is unfortunate because I really do enjoy eating meat, at times its inconvenient, especially for my husband who does all the cooking, but it’s never anything I intend to do as a statement, it just doesn’t taste as good when I’ve mentally equated my beagle with the burger I’m about to eat.  I have lots more to think about and to share about this whole phenomenon, but I will save it for my “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat” book discussion, as many of the thoughts are being driven by this latest addition to my library.


Hold the meat; pass the veggies: beating our meat addiction

I love the concept of Meatless Monday and all the benefits that come from skipping meat just one day a week.

If reducing risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity (list does go on) weren’t enough, we’d also decrease our greenhouse gas emissions and minimize water usage.

That got me thinking, so here’s some additional research on what would happen if every American for just one day went vegetarian.  The results are pretty amazing!  We would:

  • Eliminate 33 tons of antibiotics1
  • Stop 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting damages.
  • Preserve over 3 million acres of land1
  • Save 70 million gallons of gas.1

And of course don’t forget about the animals! If we skipped one meat meal, about one billion animals would be spared the suffering that occurs with intensive confinement operations.

Having named the many, many benefits of decreasing our meat consumption, I don’t understand why majority of us, myself included, choose not to. According to the NY Times, “Americans eat about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.” Those numbers seem staggering!

To make sense of my own behavior I always start with two questions 1) why did I start doing it and 2) why do I continue to do it.

When I apply this methodology to our chronic meat eating, the first “why” seems to range from internal drivers like pleasure and habit to external ones like convenience, price, and accessibility. While understanding these reasons is important and interesting from a social and cultural perspective, it doesn’t provide insight into how to change behavior.

That’s where the second question comes in. Why do we continue to overindulge in meat when it’s not good for us or our planet? Our choices tend to be measured against a benefit/harm yardstick – and if benefits (perceived or real) from maintaining status quo are greater than from a new behavior, (or inversely, if the harm associated with new behavior is greater than from the old behavior) we’ll continue right along doing what we’ve always done.

This is where things get confusing. Effects from hanging up our carnivore hat for just one day are all positive. No matter how you look it. Eating less meat is more beneficial than not: we feel better, we look better, fewer animals are slaughtered. Eating more meat is more harmful than not: higher risk of various diseases, weight gain, the negative environmental impact, the list goes on and on. Logic and common sense tell us that our human survivalist instinct will or should compel us to embrace a lifestyle that most benefits us and our future generations. So why don’t we?

My go-to culprit is awareness, and I think it certainly applies here. I believe a large percentage of population still doesn’t realize the extent of the damage that our meat-driven diet is having on ourselves or our environment.  But better education and awareness = better choices. I hope that policy changes related to organic labeling, stricter laws for nutritional labeling on packaging and menus and increased interested in sustainable food production will continue to drive up that awareness.

A new offender is addiction. It may sound melodramatic to call our overconsumption an addiction. But is it really? With substance and drug abuse, users engage in behaviors they know to be harmful, their usage increases over time and they refuse to give up their drug of choice, even when they know their lifestyle is killing them. Sound familiar?

And just like with addiction, the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem. We need to acknowledge that our current way of living and eating is slowly killing us, our families, our friends, human and non-human, and our planet. The good news is that even small changes make a difference and are as easy as saying ‘hold the meat, pass the veggies’ next time we’re at our local grocery store.


1. www.healthyalterego.com

2. www.greenpeace.org

3. Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals