Just awhile back when I was on the Toronto subway I saw this ad that said, “Why love one but eat the other?” It showed a picture of a dog and a cow, and listed some traits of cows that were similar to dogs. The poster was promoting a vegetarian diet, and persuading viewers to not eat meat. As an owner of a dog, the message from the poster really spoke out to me. So I decided to choose a different type of diet, and I became a vegetarian. Unfortunately, being surrounded by a family that constantly eats meat affected my vegetarian course, so I soon went back to eating meat. Well, not all meat. That is to say, I don’t eat beef anymore, I eat less pork, and I’ve turned to organically farmed meat.
Meat is the easiest and fastest way for people to gain protein and iron (Yates-Doerr, 11). Meat is in so much demand that the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get meat on the market is to kill animals in inhumane ways, to add antibiotics to increase the meat portion, and factory farming. As Emily Yates-Doerr says, “when meat is depicted as an amalgamation of nutrients, the nuances of human/animal relationships and the variations between the specific animal bodies that are eaten, drop out of relevance” (Yates-Doerr, 14). For us, it only seems natural that we buy and eat the meat that is set out for us at places like grocery stores and restaurants. Where it comes from, where it’s been, how it’s made, all fade into the background.
“People everywhere –even those suffering from malnutrition- make decisions about eating on the basis of taste or tradition and not solely on the basis of nutrients, greatly complicating a nutrient-focused notion of what is required to sustain life” (Yates-Doerr, 14). For example, eating a hamburger at McDonalds has become a sort of tradition for many families. Their parents ate there and it’s convenient, so now the children eat there. Taste and tradition continues to overshadow health conscience.
We value our meat but we don’t seem to value the animals we obtain the meat from. These animals are degraded and afflicted continuously because most of us choose to ignore where our meat comes from or how it’s produced. Now, I’m not saying that all meat is factory farmed with inhumane practices. Indeed, there are many farms that value their animals and don’t use antibiotics. Yes, they’re named organic or even halal meat. These words may seem scary, not cool, non-prestigious or not modern. But when you put a little time aside to make this small difference, then, you start making a big change.
Industrial meat that is packaged, branded, and advertised often consists of ingredients that are made from a variety of places and is sent around the globe more than once (Clark, 2004, 4). “We might, then, say punks consider industrial food to be extraordinarily cooked. Punks, in turn, preferentially seek food which tends to be more raw; closer to its wild, ‘organic’” (Clark, 2004, 4). So the next time you want to buy that steak for tonight’s barbeque, take a stand, choose healthy, choose organic, and become a punk because in the end it all comes back to you, the consumer.
Clark, Dylan. “The Raw and the Rotten: Punk Cuisine,” Ethnology (2004): 19-31.
Yates-Doerr, Emily. “Meeting the demand for meat?” Anthropology Today (2012): 11-15.