Monday, October 26, 2015

i just like the taste.

definitely not a family dinner in my household.

i was raised (mostly) on a vegetarian diet. most evenings' dinners consisted of some combination of lentils, rice, and spiced vegetables. but along with being an immigrant family, came the need to acclimate, acclimate, acclimate. so we occasionally got to eat some tasty Chicken McNuggets or Captain D's (it's a great little seafood place). my meat consumption steadily increased as i became older, more independent, and moved in with someone who grew up with a slightly more carnivorous diet. while it's not hard for me to stop eating meat, i continue to dine with a fork and knife because i enjoy it. 

today’s announcement from the World Health Organization more closely linking certain cancers to meat consumption (particularly of the red and processed variety) really was not a surprise to me. despite my bad, albeit moderated habits of eating meat, i've long known it's something worth a closer look in my own diet, and more broadly, in our society (cancer and carbon be damned). despite it's tasty, tasty goodness. 

but that's not the point of this piece. as with most things, i wonder about the future. so let's talk about the past.

remember, not too long ago, when smoking was part of our every day lives? well, most of my generation does not. between "just say no," far too many "very special episodes" of my favorite shows, and the waning public acceptance of smoking, our society knew that smoking = bad. and while it may be cliche to mention, not too long ago — the 60's, 70's and part of the 80's — smoking was not only commonly accepted, but often encouraged. sometimes by doctors, no less! and the manufacturers (and advertisers) of such fine products had a field day...

thanks Uncle Phillip!

ironically, what did happen in my generation, and our current society, was that by becoming widely accepted as as an unhealthy and publicly unacceptable habit, those who did smoke, now on the fringes, did it out of a callous rebellion, or because they liked the way it made them feel, health consequences be damned. smoking was (and is) cool again! after all, how many of you have said, while lighting a death stick to your mouth, "i only smoke when i drink?"

i’ve been wondering how this will play out with meat. 

for me, it seems inevitable, that we are approaching a future where the consumption of meat is not only frowned up by our society, but actively discouraged by the scientific community, especially as more and more conclusions like those released by the W.H.O. make their way from the fringes, to the trendy, to the headlines. often times to study a problem, science must first know to look for it. and then it takes time. a whole lot of precious time.

but it's happening. in the future, we'll be choosing "forks over knives." which is a phenomenal film (of the same name) worth watching:

perhaps meat will become hard to afford. never mind supply and demand, but perhaps we'll see "sin taxes" not unlike those we see for alcohol and tobacco. maybe in the future only those who are well-to-do will eat meat (of the non insect or lab-grown variety). after all, that's what's already happening on the macro scale. those of us in the west have meat with almost every meal, while those in developing countries either don't eat (much) meat for religious and cultural reasons ("namaste" and "a salaam alaikum") or economic ones (saving meat for special occasions - just ask any African goat herder). like with most things, from computers to shoes to organic-free-range chicken, we'll continue to have meat "haves" and "have nots." 

how about the potential civil concerns that may arise? putting aside most religious thoughts, is it right to kill animals just for a tasty treat? Elmer certainly didn't think so.

but don't get me wrong, like with cigarettes, we'll still eat meat, because we like how it tastes, and how it makes us feel. but we will do so knowing the harm we are causing, to ourselves and our environment. and then we'll start to wonder how people look at us, at work, in airports, at parties. and things will change. we'll become more conscious of the stigma. and we'll start to feel different. and some of us will make changes, but many of us won't. after all, how was that last fizzy soda you enjoyed? 

if you'll excuse me, i now need to go make a delicious turkey sandwich.


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