The Mind is Willing, But the Flesh…Just Tastes So Good


Published: April 9, 2009

One rainy afternoon when I was six years old, my first grade class watched the movie “Babe” instead of going outside for recess. I decided then and there that I would never eat pork again. I was not too bothered by this decision at the time—it seemed like a small sacrifice to make for the betterment of pig society, and I had never really cared much for pork anyways.

I did, however, soon find out that the ham sandwiches I frequently brought to school, and quite possibly ate during “Babe,” also came from pigs. I had a decision to make. Then I learned where bacon came from. I no longer had a decision to make. Surely, a six-year-old’s boycott of “pig” would not have made much of a dent on the meat industry anyway. They might not even have noticed at all.

Thirteen years and one very heartwarming remake of “Charlotte’s Web” later, I maintain the mindset that I first adopted after that life-changing revelation: I am an adamant carnivore secretly ridden with remorse. Some people might say that my eating habits are selfish and that I am a bad person because of them. A close friend of mine enjoys the phrase “part of the problem.” My turkey sandwich, when compared to her bowl of vegetables, makes me a “part of the problem.” She has never expressly stated which problem it is that I am a part of, but, not wanting to be a part of any problem, I always feel guilty anyway. The PETA pamphlets that inevitably follow succeed in ending the conversation but fuel the guilt-trip.

As an animal-lover, I have always felt a certain obligation to become a vegetarian: an obligation of which my many hummus-adoring friends are quick to remind me. I am what many would call a “bleeding heart.” I cry at the sight of road kill and even expressed concern for the birds that were sucked into Flight 1549’s engine when no one else did. But my friends tell me I am not allowed to feel sorry for those Canadian geese because I eat cheeseburgers.

I am fully aware of the horrors of the meat industry, thank you, and the conditions under which some animals are slaughtered are absolutely appalling. If I had my way, livestock would be treated humanely for the entirety of their existence and would not be made to suffer simply so that the heads of the meat packing industry could make a couple of extra dollars. Fortunately, people such as Dr. Temple Grandin are working to expose the inhumane treatment of animals, namely cattle and pigs, and the government has imposed much stricter regulations on the industry via the Humane Slaughter Act.

How humanely buffalo are treated at slaughterhouses I do not know, but a recent visit to a local buffalo farm left me vowing to never eat buffalo meat, no matter how tender it’s supposed to be. Perhaps it was because I looked one of those buffalo in the eye, and we shared a moment of kinship I have yet to experience with any other type of livestock. Maybe it was because selling an animal’s meat in a store only yards away from where its relatives are grazing seemed a little unfair to me. Either way, I have kept my promise and have yet to taste buffalo meat; a small effort, but an effort nonetheless.

I try my best to eat at least within my own standards of humane and sanitary conditions, but when temptation calls, fast-food restaurants answer with cheap and delicious mystery meat. While I buy free-range chicken when I can, I will still get pressed-chicken-whatevers if the mood strikes, and I will try not to think about how many heads this chicken may have had or how many hormones it was injected with. When I go to the grocery store, I see meat—not a cow, not a chicken, not even cute little Babe. The meat is separate from the animal it came from—ridiculous logic, yes, but logic that satisfies my need for protein in a way that soy beans simply do not.

Does that make me a hypocrite? I suppose it does, but they are my hypocrisies to live with. Should I choose to ponder them further, I’m going to do so over that juicy steak I have been craving all week.