Giving up commercial cow meat

“Are you nervous?” the woman at the ticket counter asked. Her eyes lit up when I asked for two tickets to see the movie, Food Inc.

I replied kind of nervously, trying to be funny (emphasis on try) but failing, “Why? Since you’ve seen it, do you still eat food?”

Not surprisingly (we were at a theater that shows all the trendy, independent movies), she said she was a long-time vegetarian, but after her friends saw the film, “they were done” eating meat.

My wife didn’t want to hear that. Bless her heart she was brave to come along with me despite her worries. “Promise me you won’t become a vegan after this,” she asked with a nervous laugh as the movie started.

Naturally the film has been criticized by the food industry. No matter, the lack of public knowledge and what is really going on before your burger gets to you at the drive through is astounding. The director argued that “…the whole system is made possible by government subsidies to a few huge crops like corn. It’s a form of socialism that’s making us sick.” Yep, socialism. This point makes me sick. Many of the government workers appointed to jobs like the head of the FDA were formerly big players in the food industry. Of course, the movie criticized the Bush administration for this, although right after it slams the democrats as well. The Clintons were no better.

You cannot even publicly criticize beef. “Veggie libel laws” in 13 states make it much easier for food companies to sue you, no matter any first amendment rights. In a normal libel case, it must be proven that the defendant is deliberately and knowingly spreading false information about whatever it is they are criticizing. In the case of food, it only has to be proven that what you say is not scientifically accurate. Gosh, how many times have you or I said something that wasn’t scientifically accurate? Um, every day? We just get into debates, but don’t get sued for it! Basically, when it comes to food you are not allowed to say anything disparaging in public. Really. So let it be known, I have said nothing disparaging or scientifically inaccurate about any kind of food in this post. 😉

Some other fun facts:

  • Cows are given corn to eat (instead of grass) which make them really fat, but their bodies are not designed to digest, and it gives them all kinds of E. coli viruses.
  • The director tried to make a balanced film from both points of view, but the food industries uniformly declined to be interviewed.
  • Even scarier, they would not allow their processes to be filmed.
  • Wal-Mart is now a huge seller of organic food products, and does not use growth hormone in their milk cows.
  • We vote for what we want every time we shop at the grocery store. The food industry will change to meet the demand, as Wal-Mart has shown.

So did I become a vegetarian?

No, but I’m not going to eat fast-food meat anymore, and am looking into where the meat at the store comes from. Local farmer’s markets are in, as is eating in season, hunting, and gardening.

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About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

26 responses to “Giving up commercial cow meat

  • Guest Writer 800+

    Interesting. I will have to go see the film!

  • Jon A

    I saw it a few days ago and really liked it. It didn’t startle me, though–I’ve seen too many of these types of documentaries.

    I don’t agree with everything PETA does, but I highly recommend their documentary “Meet your Meat.” It’s a documentary that details the slaughterhouse system. PETA snuck hidden cameras into a few slaughterhouses and filmed some pretty ghastly stuff.

  • adamf

    Agreed on PETA, but I may see that doc. as well. I don’t know if I can take all this at once though.

    For those who have read “Fast Food Nation” or any of the Michael Pollan books, Food Inc. will not be anything new, so I can see why some wouldn’t be surprised. I just hope that movies like this will continue to win friends and influence people to the point that they will change the market.

  • Alice

    I don’t buy beef at the grocery store. We have a freezer full of meat (mostly buffalo) from hunting.

    I do still occasionally buy fast food meat, but it always makes me feel sick. Even at Subway, the only thing that doesn’t make me feel gross is the veggie sandwich.

  • G

    hehehe, your wife’s response sounds like what my husband would say. 🙂

    he really wants his meat. I need to be a little more energetic about finding a good source of organic (preferably locally grown) meat.
    but I don’t shop at walmart… hmmm…

    definitely need to see this movie. thanks!

    (alice, subway’s veggie- my favorite!)

  • Steve

    ‘Soylent Green is people! Peoplllllllle!’

    I’ve read Fast Food Nation and yes, our meat supply will eventually probably kill us and is the REAL source of global warming. However, it tastes so good, I can’t live without it.

    Organics aren’t by definition healthier or better. If all the organic cows eating grass go to the same slaughter house or are processed the same way, it’s kind of a moot point.

  • adamf

    Alice, I love buffalo too! Makes me want to go hunting again.

    G / Steve – are there any farmer’s markets that raise their own cows? I know the fruits/vegis/eggs and cheese are common, but what about cow or chicken?

    From what I’ve heard the meat at WallyWorld isn’t that great anyway, but I’m curious now.

  • G

    I have heard that here in az there are a few sources…
    our CSA will occasionally offered locally grown meat, but if I remember correctly, you had to sign up early to lay claim to any of the shares (and it was a bit pricey).

  • Kim Siever

    I gave up eating at fast food burger joints 13 years ago. I have missed out on nothing.

  • Jen

    We’ve used the Morning Star substitute meats in meals that usually use beef (lasagna, chili, etc.) and haven’t noticed a difference. Not only is cooking it a lot nicer, but it is healthier as well and the kids will eat it (MAJOR bonus!).

  • adamf

    Good idea! I might have to sneak some in sometime without my wife noticing. She tends to bristle a little at words like “vegetarian” or “organic”. I have to give her credit though, she also bristles at words like “elk meat”. She is also being a trooper to go along with me on my new stance in life — we are looking for some farmer’s markets in the new town we will be in, and she is totally fine with me not eating burgers anymore.

    Does anyone know if there are ANY fastfood places that use grass-fed beef? In-N-Out?

  • cue

    Grass-fed beef may very well be “commercial cow meat”. There are huge ranches out here in The West, and I step on a lot of dung while hiking around on federal lands.

    So, what exactly is your issue with the industrial beef industry. Is it ecological impact? Personal health? Public health? Animal welfare? Undefined malaise?

    I mean, it is wonderful that you are interested in knowing where your food is sourced, but are you willing to be more explicit in your reasoning?

  • adamf

    Thanks for the comment.

    I have nothing against industry or business, so that is not part of it. Personal health is one reason. Impact on the environment is another, although I don’t know enough about that issue yet to really make a case. Could you fill me in on that one? Third, while I am not a vegetarian, and I don’t have a problem with cows or chickens or fish or whatever being used as food, I DO feel that all life should be treated with mindfulness and gratitude. Eating buffalo meat that my father got hunting (or rather, in keeping the herd maintained) is not offensive to me because the animals are not processed solely as a product to be sold.

    What are your reasons for not eating beef?

  • Jen

    Adam,

    I hit the jackpot when I looked up this website http://www.morningstarfarms.com/ in relation to finding recipes using their meat substitutes. I am excited about it and thought I would share it if anyone is interested.

  • cue

    With all due respect to you (and your father, of course), the maintained herds you mention consist of farm-raised buffalo which are selected by a customer to be shot within a large fenced area. The buffalo are raised for recreational slaughter.

    My belief is that finding a replacement source is not as important [right now] as cutting back on meat intake in general. Lowering the demand is a great step towards making a positive impact on the industry, I think.

  • adamf

    Agreed on lowering the demand. As a Mormon, it’s not like I have a good excuse to eat a lot of meat. 😉 it has only been a week, but my abstention mentioned in the post has already resulted in quite a bit less meat eating.

    Re: buffalo – for whatever reason, it doesn’t bother me like trad. slaughterhouses do. I don’t think it’s the same. Then again, no argument I could make would satisfy a non-meat eater. 🙂

  • Steven

    Great topic. Awareness can bring about some needed change. Ever seen the Meatrix?
    http://www.themeatrix.com/

  • Alice

    Cue-

    Going off of the belief that we are to be stewards over animals and that they are for our use, farm raised buffalo, killed “humanely” is leaps ahead of cow feed lots and slaughter houses.

  • cue

    Sure, small-scale farms and ranches that do not use feedlots are better, but they cannot support the current demand for meat. The demand for beef drives the scale of the cattle industry; small ranches scale up to become the Big Bad Corporate ranches because people want their meat. It is for this reason that I believe that eating less meat will have a greater impact than finding alternative sources.

    We eat in excess. We are gluttonous. Going back to consuming meat only once or twice a week will greatly improve the treatment of animals within the beef industry.

  • adamf

    Now that I’ve cut out fast food, even if I was still eating beef it would probably only be a few times a month. Hamburgers were the biggest culprit for me, and I suspect many people don’t realize how much beef they eat via big macs.

  • wordsfromhome

    Cue,
    I am the wife of the guy that harvests the buffalo. Yes, he does have to go a ranch pick his animal, and dispatch it, which he does quite professionally with one shot, minimizing distress for the animal. We supervise the dressing out and processing by a local butcher, and we transport the packaged and frozen meat to our home freezer for use by us and the families of our children during the next year. We and others like us, help support local ranchers who cannot compete in the competive beef market.
    The meat is much more lean than beef, and much lower in cholesterol. I have not bought beef for my family at a store in 10 years or more and I hope I never have to again. Overall, because we care nothing about a “trophy” but only want to harvest a freezer full of meat, it actually costs us less, including the cost of travel, than the same quantity of low fat ground beef.

  • George

    I am the humane bison killer. One shot in the nerve bundle at the base of the skull. I also practice Islamic law by pronouncing Allah’s blessing and permission in Arabic before I squeeze the trigger. After the shot is made I personally cut the jugler. The meat then is “halal.” I as the mrs. stated observe all the steps from the pasture to the freezer.

    It is not ‘recreational slaughter’, but careful selection and a measured process from field to freezer. Personally I find no joy in killing anything but I do find great satisfaction in cooking a couple steaks on the grill for friends now and then.

  • Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Even with the over reaching, the film is powerful and real.

  • Alice

    I saw Food Inc last night (have to love that netflix “watch’em now’s” now work on macs).

    I was disgusted with the whole commercial chicken “growing” system (and is it just me, or does “growing” seem weird when you’re talking about animals). Disgusted in the conditions the chickens live it, disgusted by the way the packaging companies treat the “growers”, disgusted that the farmer had developed an allergy to antibiotics because she was around the chickens who were fed so much, disgusted by the way the chickens are rounded up, and slaughtered, and the contamination issues.

    Once we finish up the bag of frozen chicken breast from costco (I’m too practical to throw it out) we’re going to be looking for a new source of chicken. I’m also thinking about changing where we buy milk and eggs from. As the show said, we vote with our money.

  • Alice

    Sorry about the typos, I was feeling indignant and didn’t spell check (not that I usually spell check).

    I was also thinking about what cue said about cutting back. One benefit of spending your money on more sustainably raised food, is that it’s more expensive, so you buy less of it.

  • adamf

    You make a great point at the end there. The first reaction often is, “But it costs so much more!” Perhaps if we spent the SAME amount on BETTER products, we’d all be healthier, and truly eat meat “sparingly.”

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