WAKE UP AMERICA! Why Ignorance is Bliss
Throughout my WAKE UP AMERICA! series, I highlighted the views of doctors, researchers and activists who have devoted much of their lives to improving our food system. Virtually all the experts spearheading research advocate a plant based diet. John Robbins, the granddaddy of the food revolution and author of numerous bestsellers, abandoned his father’s ice cream empire to advocate for animals and better health for Americans. He is responsible for bringing these experts together for the Food Revolution Summit.
Today I’m sharing the reasons for my slow journey to eat meat free which began when I was about 25 years old. I ate meat my entire life and was raised on a typical American diet. I’ve always loved animals and any type of animal mistreatment horrified me.
When I was 8 years old my family went to my Uncle’s farm. Two of his pigs were dressed up in women’s undergarments. It was hysterical! We took pictures, named the cutest one “Petunia”, and had a good ol’ time with the pigs.
About a week later, sitting at the breakfast table, my mom placed a plate in front of me. Next to the usual eggs was a piece of round sausage. I asked my mom what it was and she gleefully said, “Oh, that’s Petunia!” I was speechless with instant tears streaming down my cheeks. I pushed the plate away and refused to eat.
Did I know that all sausage came from a pig? Yes. Did I know that the delicious, broiled white meat at dinner came from a chicken? Yes. Did I know that a McDonalds hamburger was from a cow? Yes.
But it wasn’t until that moment at breakfast that I made the real connection between the animal and the food.
Yet for the next 17 years I still ate meat, junk food, and all things typical. I never spoke out about hunting, animal abuse, meat consumption because I knew it would be hypocritical. I chose to stay ignorant rather than be forced with a decision I didn’t want to make.
At around age 25, three things happened. I needed to lose a lot of baby weight. My beloved dog died. I bit down on a bone when eating a McDonalds cheeseburger. That was my last bite of red meat.
Transforming my diet has been a journey, not one momentous decision. As I transitioned, I became more open minded and informed.
Becoming enlightened is burdensome– let’s face it. Because when we know better, we do better. At least we feel pressure to try.
In America, our food is always in front of the curtain. Neatly packaged, brightly colored, and in ample supply. We don’t see the flavor laboratories, the chemicals and colorings, pesticides or factory farms. If anything, we see a happy cow surrounded by green grass and wildflowers.
Like religious and political beliefs, meat eating is ingrained in us as kids. If your family hunted, chances are your kids will hunt and not think a thing about shooting an arrow or pulling a trigger to kill an animal. Yet we will spend billions of dollars on our household pets, oooh and aaah at public zoos, and pass laws protecting animals from extinction.
Short of a natural disaster with our meat supply, I don’t believe the world will stop eating meat. Therefore, I created my top 10 wishlist on this issue:
- If you continue to eat meat, at least pledge to refuse to participate in unnecessary animal suffering.
- Buy humanely raised meat from local sources. Ask what you’re buying.
- Refuse to purchase meat made from factory farms. The cheaper the meat, the more likely it’s from a factory farm.
- Reduce your meat consumption to 2-3 times per week and make it a small portion of your plate.
- Refuse to buy meat at fast food restaurants or any eating establishment that won’t disclose where the meat comes from.
- Be willing to be enlightened. Watch informative videos and read books & articles on factory farms. Start with the one below.
- Support local vegetarian restaurants and non-meat menu items in all restaurants creating more of a demand.
- Give meat substitutes a try. Cook the same meal but with a Gardein, Field Roast, Westsoy or similar product. See my recipe ideas in we eat.
- Be proud of small changes. One meatless meal is a great step toward opening your heart and mind.
- Be honest. Saying you don’t know how to cook meat-free, or that it’s somehow complicated or tasteless, just means you’ve closed your mind to taking baby steps.
Petunia and Shayla are no different. They both feel pain because they have a living, breathing body. Both are at our mercy. They can’t speak or vote. I still believe most human beings are compassionate and don’t support animal suffering. If we’re going to eat animals, can’t we start by at least treating them humanely before they’re killed? Isn’t that the least we can do?
This tasteful video will give you a peek behind the curtain without overwhelming you. I promise you the video is tolerable to watch.
Called Make It Possible. (Click link to learn more about this impressive effort to end factory farming).