Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The flesh and meat and the gory details

Sometimes the most innocuous day to day incidents can bring the most monumental changes in ones life. Mine started with reading an article on the internet. It began with the story of a child who got sick after eating an undercooked burger at a fast food joint and ultimately died from HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) caused by a pathogenic strain of a bacteria called E. coli. The article went on to describe the horrors of how the meat industry works and the various schemes to cover up the most gruesome practices in the civilized world. As I read the article I could not believe the atrocities that were described and by the time I was through, the mere thought of eating meat made me nauseous.

Obviously I had to do some checking. I googled a bit and came up with the term "factory farming". Now as I said before I had no idea what this was leading me into. I read some more and with every article that I came up with, it only served to make me sick with the facts and shocked at the cruelty that was being practiced each minute as I sat there learning about it. Now for those of you who are in the same state as I was prior to this eye opening incident and have very little idea about what I am referring to, you may want to check out this and may be this. But be forewarned that what you are going to see, read and learn is gruesome to say the least. In fact some of the pictures and videos were so graphic that I could not bear to watch them. But what I did see was enough to convince me into giving up on meat.

I come from a country where a vast majority of the population is vegetarian and probably would not have any qualms understanding where I am coming from. I on the other hand have grown up knowing that we need animal protein in our diet (vitamin B12 folks) and that every meal should include either meat or fish to provide me with the appropriate nutrition. The staple food in any home in Bengal would comprise fish and rice. And after coming to the US our diet was largely governed by all the different kinds of meat that were so readily available and oh so inexpensive and yes so easily ready to eat. We lived on hot dogs and burgers.Pizzas always had to be smothered in sausage and lunch would be sandwich with any kind of lunch meat. So for a person like me to be faced with facts of this proportion was a staggering blow to my intellect, my humanity and my entire existence.

Overnight I gave up eating meat. The mere thought of eating meat was now repulsive to me. I had no trouble converting my husband either. B is one of the most compassionate human being I have ever met and he has taught me many a valuable lesson in humanity. When he read some of the things that I had unearthed he had a similar reaction. Folks back home in India who of course have not come face to face with these gory details were shocked and a little outraged at our sudden dietary restrictions. But nothing they said could make me change my mind. And we've survived this meatless existence quite well for the last 9 months. Changing the way my parents feel will take some time, but then, you can make the difference by moving one stone at a time.

The whole point of my writing this post is not because I am any kind of activist or that I am trying to convert any of my non-vegetarian readers into making a lifestyle change, but because I believe a lot of people just are not aware of things like this. There are organizations and there are people who spend their life fighting to prevent such cruelty. And even if I am not an active part of any such movement, I strongly believe that my support can go a very long way in making a difference. With every burger that I refuse to eat for the rest of my life I am probably going to save the life of one cow in my lifetime. With my husband we can make that two cows. And to that add all the goats and lambs and pigs....well, it does make a difference in the long run.

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Blogger Casablanca said...

If this evidence is so convincing, I'm scared to follow the links and check it out myself.
Not because I'm scared of giving up my meat, but because being vegetarian is very difficult where I am!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Rohan Kumar said...

I eat meat but at the same time I am very respectful of the feelings of most veggies towards not consuming meat. I havent checked out the 2 links u posted....probably wont too as I think we really dont need to change as long as we are happy being the way we are. (and yes most ppl can read into that as ignorance is bliss :) )

3:30 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

you misunderstand what I meant. No i am not into people turning vegetarian. I do believe in the prey and predator thing to keep an ecologically viable society. But what I meant was the way these animals are treated in US and probably other countries too. If you did have the courage to peek into the first website you'd see it was not about being vegetarian but about being humane.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Rohan Kumar said...

I did go through the two links on ur advice but do u now that for every such story there are ten others stating how animals are tortured to make leather, or to obtain fat for making soaps or how chicks reared for laying eggs are fed crushed eggs of their kins in their diet so there's no end to all this. While I am appreciative of ur efforts to bring all this into public conscience I just feel it should be more of a private choice and ppl shouldnt be repelled out of their current state to turn veggy. (still think it hasnt come out quite right, hoping u can understand my point)

4:17 PM  
Blogger Tiger said...

m - I have been a lifelong vegetarian. The way I see it is.. To a normal meat eater, who eats beef, chicken, pork and sundry other flesh, if you ask them to eat a rat or a cat or a dog, they would feel repulsive.. But to some people who do eat it, its normal - for example some tribes in Arunachal Pradesh eat rats' tails as a delicacy. To me, eating any kind of meat is repulsive. As for the argument for Vit B - I think its a propaganda to justify meat eating. Did you know sea vegetables like kelp, dulce, alaria, kombu, etc are rich in Vit B. BTW, have you watched the meatrix?

5:48 PM  
Blogger Casablanca said...

Interesting discussion going on here... I've actually seen that flash film "Meatrix", and it did gross me out no end.
I agree with Rohan, that there are a lot of other situations demanding attention as well, but then I think people have to start somewhere, isnt it? So I guess M, its your way of starting some awareness about animal torture.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Point 5 said...

Read the book "Fast Food Nation". The book sheds a light on factory farming, and the inhumane conditions in which the employees at these farms work.

I know a lot of people who eat only fish, cause they are currently spared from factory farming....

10:25 PM  
Blogger Priya said...

M, thanks for dropping by my blog and your good wishes. Am already my "old self", just getting older!!

5:51 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

Thanks guys for all the interesting discussion. My point was not to gross out anyone or try to convert anyone. Honestly I am not a vegetarian. Yet. And I agree with Rohan in that it is after all a personal choice. But my point here is that I hate the hypocrisy of a civilized nation who can mete out such treatment without being bothered by the cruelty at all. I mean is it okay to send a bolt through the head of a live animal, sometimes stunning it, most often missing it and then chop off pieces of it, the hooves, the tail, the head while they die piece by piece? Is it okay to breed hundreds of thousands of animals in tiny cages where they cannot move, where they eat, live and relieve themselves, covered in sores and bites from other half crazy animals for the heck of getting an extra pound of meat? Is it okay to force feed birds so that they have huge enlarged livers that can be then taken out and served as some kind of delicacy? I think there is nothing natural about the way these things are done and I think people need to be aware of it before they realize that it needs to be done differently. I agree with Tiger in that one man's food may turn another man away. And I am not trying to turn the world veggie. I don't believe in that. After all plants are living things too, right? I just want these monsters who get away with these acts of violence day after day to be held responsible. I'm not against eating meat. I'm against factory farming. And yes casablanca, it needs to start somewhere.

10:15 AM  
Blogger satchisgod said...

Well, meat is a problem everywhere. You know, there was this bread-factory near my place (in Calcutta)...and yuck...I cudn't have bread for a month after I saw how they kneaded the dough with their bare dirty feet.
It was gross.
And of course, McDonalds in general leads the score in producing the most unhygenic of foods.

10:16 AM  
Blogger jaded said...

the most important thing is that no one should be forced to eat or give up's totally your call.i also think that this is in fact part of the ecological balance- the dominant species rules over the weaker ones.maybe it sounds like i am trying to justify my non-vegetarianism, but i think it makes sense.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Krishanu said...

you think that only meat is bad? check out this thing called cysticercosis(though it was previously believed to be caused solely through uncooked pork, there is conclusive evidence that it is caused by consumption of raw vegetables eg lettuce etc)... maybe you'll give up eating altogether

10:33 AM  
Blogger Tiger said...

ANY food if prepared and/or eaten improperly will cause trouble. If you want to go the whole hog, check out sun gazing as propounded by Hira Ratan Manek! *would solve all the problems of the world*

8:27 AM  
Blogger Arijit Mukherjee said...

All the best for your campaign. But then some people are allergic to vegetarian food- like me. What do we do- re-read the article till the allergy is gone.... just kidding though.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Arindam said...

eeeeewwww - that was gross!

but do you think vegetarianism is better?

3:57 PM  

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