The truth about meat is hard to swallow

When I was a teenager, I gave up eating meat for seven years.  At the time, it was a simple decision born from a conviction that eating animals wasn’t something I felt comfortable with.  And with meals in my family, meat rarely took center stage so figuring out what to eat back then was easy.  Yogurt and a handful of nuts or salad and a slice of whole grain bread worked fine for a meal.  But as life always goes, we grow and change, and being a vegetarian began to feel confining for me.   It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the same compassion for animals, it had more to do with feeling that eating small amounts of meat worked better for my body.

So it was that on a trip to Europe, under the shadow of  the magical castle Neuschwanstein, I chose to end my meat ban with a bite of savory Bavarian sausage.  At first it was a strange feeling, the texture, the idea of eating an animal again, and it wasn’t instant love for sure.  But I was headed to Spain where I wandered through huge markets filled with counters of glistening seafood and whole pigs hanging in rows from the ceiling.  There was no doubt where the meat came from–no plastic-wrapped ambiguous cuts of meat that people didn’t connect to the animal.  Did I have some doubts about the animals’ welfare and right to life?  Sure I did.  But for me it felt like the right path, and I dove into the culture and tried the meat there in Spain that had a flavor I’d never tasted growing up in the states.  Thus began my journey to add meat back into my diet.

Fast forward to today: feeding a family, especially filling a teenager whose idea of dinner is meat and bread and potatoes every day.  And not just any meat, we’re talking beef.   If he could eat a thick steak every day, he probably would.   Now, I’m not a beef eater.  I’d never choose to eat it on my own.  But you know how it is as a parent–you want to stop the growls coming from your fast-growing kid’s empty stomach.  But as I bought more and more meat, I began to think about where it came from, how the animals were treated, and the way the meat industry processed, first the living animals and then the meat.

In this country, it’s not a pretty picture.  But so many of us are unaware of the way the meat industry is run.  Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the movie, Food Inc., is an eye opener for all of us who eat meat.  It’s not easy to take in the way animals are caged and abused and tortured so that we can have endless supplies of chicken tacos, hamburgers, bacon, undefinable meat for hotdogs, and so on.  Awareness of this abuse of animals and the environment is the only way to change things.  If we can open our eyes and take an unflinching look at the few mega corporations that run the meat industry in this country, I think there would be more of an outcry for change.

As always, educating ourselves is the best way to make change happen.  Michael Pollan’s book and the movie listed above is a good way to get started.  The Meatrix site has a short video and lots of information on the health and environmental cost of factory farming. And for new ways to buy and eat meat, we can start with small steps.  Meatless Monday gives us ideas on how to cut back on eating meat daily by going meatless for at least one day a week.  Buying meat from local sources is the best way to know what you’re getting–find your local farms through Eat Wild.  Here in the Portland area there are lots of sources for buying meat.  Right now, I don’t have enough freezer space to buy quarter or half of an animal, so I look for farms that sell meat by the pound.  The closest one I’ve found (five miles up the road from my neighborhood!) for pasture-raised, certified organic beef is Malinowski Farm.  They can be reached by phone: 503-297-9398.

For pasture-raised lamb by the pound, contact Nuts About Berries Farm.  Jon and Debra also raise chickens and turkeys on their twenty acre organic farm.  I was lucky enough to get a tour of their gardens and fields where they move their turkeys and chickens from one area to another to let them graze and replenish the soil naturally with their waste.  Gorgeous farm, fabulous tasting meat.

Another farm that sells a variety of meat by the pound is Full of Life Farm south of Portland.  If I can, I’ll be taking the pasture walk and tour they’ll be offering on Dec. 10th.  Getting to know the animals and seeing their environment is the best way to make meat buying decisions.  I really can’t imagine anyone choosing to buy meat from a factory farm if they were able to see the plight of the animals and how those mega farms are run.  It can be difficult, especially when eating out, to completely avoid factory farmed meat, but the more we buy local, the more we help each other, the animals, our communities, and the planet.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The truth about meat is hard to swallow

  1. Hi Lorraine,
    Our family also struggled with the choice to eat meat. For us, our journey back to meat started with raising our own chickens and rabbits and learning to slaughter them. Taking responsibility for that life and death that feeds us was very important to us. We don’t raise all our own meat – we buy directly from local farmers. One you may be interested in checking out is Taylor Made Farms. It was also helpful for us to learn more about the environmental and health impacts of vegetarianism… they were not as benign as we’d originally been led to believe.

    For health reasons, we have gone completely grain-free and we now eat a lot of meat as well as homemade probiotic foods. (We bought most of our produce from Thompson Farms this year, btw). This diet persuaded our last vegetarian hold out, our 12 year old daughter, to make the switch this year, too, and she has been healthier than ever. You can read her story on our blog at if you are interested.

    • lorrainemt says:

      Hi Joy, I’m so glad you stopped by and told me a little about yourself. It’s interesting to hear that you’ve gone almost grain free. I’m looking forward to reading your story on your blog. Most of my family is gluten free and minimizing our simple carbs, except for my teenage son. So far it’s been impossible to separate him from wheat!
      I’m adding Taylor Made Farms on my local link list–thank you!

      • Hi Lorraine,
        We actually are totally grain free and have been on the GAPS diet since last February. It has worked wonders for all of us!

        At the moment, however, I’m doing a gluten challenge in order to get screened for celiac disease, something I wish I’d done a year ago! Since your son is so heavy on the wheat, If you haven’t already, I hope you will have him screened for celiac disease before getting him to switch to gluten-free. I’ve got a series of posts called “Celiac Testing Myths” started which explain the whys and hows. Here’s one of them:

        ps – I found you through the Village Home list and would love to meet in person someday 🙂 We have classes westside on wednesday and eastside on Friday this term, any chance of seeing you around?

        • lorrainemt says:

          Joy, thanks for the link and I’ll be heading over to read your posts. Hope you don’t mind if I’ve added you to my local link list. And it would be wonderful to meet you. Looks like our schedules are different though–I’m on the westside on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and sometimes Fridays. But I’m sure we can figure out a way to meet up sometime!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s