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The Real Issue

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Peach: Mommy, remember what we had for that dinner last week?
FrumeSarah: Are you referring to Thanksgiving?
Peach: Yes. That thing was disgusting.
FrumeSarah: Which thing? The turkey?
Peach: Yes, the turkey. The turkey didn’t want me to eat him…. He wanted to be alive.

Yowza, kid. From where is this coming? The turkey didn’t want me to eat him? He certainly didn’t hear this at home.

I am, what I would consider, a reluctant carnivore. I love meat. I love the taste of it. Beef, lamb, chicken — all good. Since my teen years, I triumphantly pointed to the end of the Flood narrative where permission to eat meat is given (Genesis 9:3). But in the past five years, I have become more and more uncomfortable with the ways in which the animals are treated prior to ending up on my plate. And while I am not-yet prepared to forego such foods, I am certainly more aware of the ethical issues surrounding the meat (beef, poultry, etc) industry.

We have not always been forthcoming about the origins of the “meat” as far as the children are concerned. Beernut was flat-out flabbergasted when it was suggested to him that meat comes not from a store, but from a cow. Of course, it must be pointed out that Beernut was not incorrect when he said that meat comes from the store. He just wasn’t sharing the origin. Also, assuming that the meat in question was beef, it would have been more accurate to say that it is derived from beef cattle.

I’m just saying…

But this morning’s conversation was not quite finished as Peach had just one more question:

Mommy, can a person who is a kid and a vegetarian and a person who is a kid but is not still play together?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. the writ and the wrote permalink
    Thursday, 1 December 2011 10:43 pm

    I always joke that I’m a vegetarian outside the home, but it’s really true. I really try to avoid eating meat outside the home and am aiming to make all of my meals out meat free in 2012. I would carry it over at home, but that would require me to cook and right now I don’t have the resources to do so.

    I loved his last question – that’s adorable.

    • Molly J Weinstein permalink
      Friday, 2 December 2011 4:36 pm

      To the writ and the wrote:

      I’m just curious about your practice. You try to avoid meat outside the home, but you eat meat in the home but you don’t cook. I am (perhaps incorrectly) assuming that you eat meat at home that has been prepared by others. Just curious about your thought process.

  2. Friday, 2 December 2011 6:47 am

    Awareness of where their food comes from is a huge awakening for children. I remember when my youngest was little, I took him to the butcher shop with me one day and he read the chicken package. It said it was a “young chicken.” He became so upset he literally was lying on the floor hysterical crying. I had to get the butcher to promise him that the chicken had a full and happy life before it became food. He just turned 18 last week and to this day he will not go into the butcher-shop with me. He may eat meat, but the reality of where it comes from still causes him ethical and oral concerns.

    He wanted to be a vegetarian but I told him that he couldn’t become a vegetarian as he had so many medical issues growing up. Still not sure it would be a good choice for him but now that he is an adult and fully grown ,it is something he will decide for himself.

    • Friday, 2 December 2011 6:48 am

      Mean moral not oral concerns…sorry

      • Frume Sarah permalink*
        Wednesday, 7 December 2011 4:59 pm

        Thanks for the clarification. I actually thought that maybe he had some sensory issues around food. 😉

  3. Friday, 2 December 2011 8:35 am

    I ate meat my entire life until this past June when in an attempt to get my weight under control I became a vegan (that lasted only a month). I’m a vegetarian now (eggs & milk) and honestly don’t miss meat at all (I never ate fish to begin with). Instead I eat lots of legumes (especially lentils and chickpeas) and I need beef for a recipe (tacos, chili, etc) Boca and MorningStar make a very decent soy crumble that when used is nearly indistinguishable from ground beef.

    Sure, not eating meat is inconvenient much of the time and sure, it annoys my wife (she’s not a vegetarian, though she has drastically reduced her meat consumption too), but I feel better not eating it. I don’t have ethical qualms about eating meet although I also feel that how animals are raised needs to be addressed.

    I can’t wait for the day when my son is old enough to realize that eggs come from chickens, and chickens come from eggs, and we eat eggs. That’ll be a fun discussion 🙂

  4. Friday, 2 December 2011 9:41 am

    We just attended a bar mitzvah where the parents joked about how much they have learned from their son, who declared himself a vegetarian at age 5. He literally rocked their world, and they are now all vegetarians.

    It is amazing how children, sometimes, see things so much more clearly than we do.

    I think about when my own son made the connection to his “steak” being the “meat” that came from a cow — maybe a relative to the one he had just milked at a local dairy that same week. He felt a connection to that creature, and I think it freaked him out a little. So I know the Torah says we can eat meat, but are we supposed to eat it as much as we do? Great post.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Wednesday, 7 December 2011 5:01 pm

      So I know the Torah says we can eat meat, but are we supposed to eat it as much as we do?

      Additionally, shouldn’t we do a better job of raising the animals in a more humane fashion??

  5. Shellie Halprin permalink
    Friday, 2 December 2011 11:03 am

    I was always fascinated by the passages in Leviticus concerning animal sacrifice in the Temple where it says that the aroma of the burnt offering is pleasing to G-d. This is a two-parter for me: 1) the smell of BBQ is great, but the smell of burning animal flesh in a wood fire on the alter sounds disgusting (I’ve been in attendance at a Hawaiian luau where they roasted a pig and I couldn’t handle it) and 2) of all the things that please G-d, the smell of burning animal flesh is one of them???

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