Before people start throwing rocks at me, I’d like to go on record as saying that I know that I’m a hypocrite. I didn’t need to be told because I figured it out all on my own. But… I’m in good company because we, all of us on this great planet, fail on a daily basis to completely “hold the line” when we presume to stand for some great cause.
I could make a laundry list of well-known people who speak out of both sides of their mouths, but that would take more energy that I’ve got at the moment. Besides, you can watch FOX NEWs anytime you want and save me the trouble. For my own part, I catch myself in moments of duplicity all the time, but one that comes to mind right now is my stance on eating meat.
I love meat. I’ll never be a vegetarian, though I have quite a few friends who live happily by that philosophy. It doesn’t bother me. In spite of the fact that I eat beef, chicken, venison, and pork, I also consider myself a person in favor of treating animals ethically. (Like I said…I’m a hypocrite) I watch “Animal Planet” with my kids and frequently wish a slow and painful death upon the idiots of this world who mistreat the animals entrusted to their care. I suppose this cancels out the fact that I also think of myself as a fairly humane person (albeit one who wishes death on certain people) and I delude myself into believing this because I don’t wear fur. See? I’m all over the place with regard to animals, but I live in Texas, for pity’s sake. Wearing fur here is nothing more than an affectation. A wasteful affectation, if you ask me.
But I’m here to talk about meat and, after reading today’s New York Times, I want to address the kinds of lives animals live right up until the moment they walk toward the great white light and wind up on a styrofoam square covered with cellophane. But first– get a load of this:
“Whole Foods Market is preparing to roll out a line of meats that will carry labels saying ‘ANIMAL COMPASSIONATE,’ indicating that the animals were raised in a humane manner until they were slaughtered.” You know…just to let us know the cows were happy in their final hours.
I’m sorry, but I think this kind labeling is just a little silly. I’m all for treating cows well. This also goes for any other animals who patiently stand in line one day after lunch only to be surprised by a unpleasant jolt from a stun gun. But the fact that we’re breeding these animals in order to kill them later on is just a fact….an ugly one but a fact nonetheless. A note from the rancher confessing that he sang them a medley of Rosemary Clooney songs right before he pulled the trigger isn’t going to make me feel better about the process. What’s next? Maybe the fine print on the meat labels will look something like this:
To our customer:
Let us take a moment to reflect upon the life lived by your rump roast of choice, Mavis. She was treated, like all the ungulates purchased by SwiftPro Foods, with dignity and respect. She spent her days walking freely about our 10,000 acre compound while munching on natural grasses, having a conjugal visit with her special friend Ernesto, or napping peacefully in a semi-private stall that was painted in complimentary hues of cream and soft yellow and well stocked with aromatherapy candles. Mavis’ handlers spoke to her only in dulcet tones and, on occasion, read aloud to her from the works of Emily Dickenson and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Mavis enjoyed a good massage and submitted herself twice weekly to the skilled hands of our in-house therapist, Dave. She was a cow with a well-formed sense of humor and watching reruns of Seinfeld helped her to understand the irony of her own existence–one in which she was cared for and nurtured lovingly, only to be killed and rendered for the benefit of carnivores like yourself. Mavis, like many cows, wasn’t all that smart was resigned to her fate and we feel fairly confident that, had she not been forced into service, she would have given her life gladly for a cause she barely understood. Perhaps that’s because we kept it a secret from her. That’s how much we care. At SwiftPro foods, we think of Mavis as a hero..a patriot. And as she walked bravely and seemingly unaware towards her fate (To the strains of “Morning Mood” from the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 Op.46…a Mavis favorite) we knew that our complete and utter dedication to her happiness and well-being would result in one damn fine filet. Call me a silly romantic, but I believe the way she rolled her eye at me just before she fell through the chute was a kind of “thank you” for all we do to keep our cows contented. Or maybe that’s just the way cows look after they’ve been stunned. Either way…enjoy your meal.
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