Friday, January 26, 2007

Deep Thoughts, By Mer

Why I Don't Eat Cute Animals

I, admittedly, have very odd rules about what I eat. My first rule is that I don't eat cute animals - no sheep or lambs, deer, bunnies, ducks, goats, quail, horses, etc. OK, cows are mildly cute, but just not cute enough to abstain from eating beef (except babies, which is why I don't eat veal). And chickens are only cute when they're chicks; therefore, I don't eat baby chickens. But pigs? Totally NOT cute, so no worries there…

On the other hand, the thought of the farmers in China who farm St. Bernards (dogs) because they’re the largest and most docile breed, and therefore easier to raise, slaughter, and sell, absolutely turns my stomach!! And lambs are so cute and sweet – I even have photos from my trip to Wales when I fed and pet some of the gentle creatures. I would not dare eat one… And how could I ever sink my teeth into Thumper or Bambi? Never gonna happen.

Anyway, I am criticized by my hard and fast rule quite often. I really shouldn't take the time to explain, but I always do. I usually finalize my justification with the phrase 'cute as a lamb’. How can you eat something by which all cuteness is measured? (BTW, I don't eat buttons, either...)

My personal decision not to eat cute animals is challenged by the fact that I love animals, but achieve a high level of satisfaction from eating meat – I love the taste, variety, texture, and the art of preparing beautiful meals which include meat. However, if I visualize the animal that had to perish so that I could feast on it, I feel really terrible (and disgusted; and queasy!). For that reason, I only eat boneless meat that doesn’t resemble an animal in any way. I can sort of trick myself into thinking it’s more like… tofu!

I can only achieve this self-trickery with animals that I would never consider as a pet. Not that I have any room or real estate for ANY pets in Southern California, much less farm animals… But theoretically, if I had all the space and time in the world, I think I could have sheep as pets, like Cousin Sonia in Wales; or my cousins in Texas who have horses, bunnies, and ducks. I could potentially take a goat as a pet… Anna’s mom has one in NC, right, Anna?

I also find this self-trickery challenging when eating brisket in Texas, or barbecue in North Carolina, and the restaurants’ proprietors find it cute to decorate the restaurant in the theme of the animal which is the main ingredient of the menu. Steers’ heads mounted on the wall, or cartoon pigs with red and white checked aprons on, provoke me to walk right out of a restaurant and start looking for a Souplantation. It’s on the same level as those who insist on calling their filet mignon “a great piece of cow” or bacon “mighty fine pig” – it’s just so crass!! Perhaps that stems back to my sensibilities as a Southern Belle… who knows?

So when it really comes down to it, I guess it’s not a moral or ethical dilemma that has spurred me to make this decision - just a simple decision based on my personal sensibilities, which may be completely senseless to the rest of the planet. And that’s absolutely fine with me.

Comments and feedback welcome!! Love, Mer


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