When people find out that I don’t eat meat (beef, pork, poultry) anymore, they usually and reasonably ask why. By now my explanation is practically a routine exercise and I have noticed a pattern: people aren’t listening to me! I talk about how working in a slaughterhouse is probably the most dangerous job in America right now and how messed up the U.S. meat industry is and nine out of ten times people say, “so, animal cruelty?” I get the animal cruelty part and I agree that that is messed up but aren’t humans more important than animals?
I won’t rant in this post about injustices in the meat industry but if you do want more information, Human Rights Watch released a 2005 report (kind of outdated) that goes really in depth into this issue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also has a 2009 report on the salaries of various jobs in the meatpacking industries. Still ridiculously low (SHAT) for the incredibly high-risk job that slaughterers and meat cutters have to perform. Look under “Production Occupation.” Unbelievable. There’s a ton of information out there, just google it.
I am also in the process of rethinking the parameters of my “no meat” decision. Because of my reasons, I am thinking about eating meat outside of this country and perhaps in situations where I am not paying for the meat. I have to admit that refusing food in certain situations have been very uncomfortable and unintentionally disrespectful. What I mean is that when my parents or friends’ parents or guests have meat at the dinner table, they already bought it with their own money. My consumption will not decrease the money they already spent. My theory is that my own personal decrease in consumption of meat will infinitesimally lower the profits of the three meat industries that dominate the market. I have not implemented these changes yet and I don’t know if I will but these thoughts have been percolating in my head. The last thing I want to do is to seem like an elitist and a Pharisee.
Cynics and scoffers I hear you. I hear it from myself. How will that make a difference? Well, I’ve come to ignore you (and myself), you who doubt that small things can make a difference. For now, I will continue.