Friday, August 13, 2010

Save a Cow, Eat a Vegetarian

I like meat.  Plain and simple.

And I'm fairly broad in my definition of "meat" as compared to others.  If it grows off bones of a living creature, it is meat.  This includes beef, pork, chicken, fish, you name it.

The older I get, however, the more meat grosses me out.  I'm not saying that a juicy cut of steak doesn't sound good right now, because it does.  But the more I learn about how animals are raised and treated in typical farms and feed lots, the less I can stomach the products that come from those places.  

Loyal Snack for Later readers may remember a rant I had on the blog almost exactly a year ago having to do with how horribly chickens are treated before showing up in your freezer.  This year, it's all about beef.  For the last few years, the only red meat that has been in my house has been venison shot by Leni's dad in Texas.  Now that we live farther away from that source, Leni's getting excited to apply for some hunting tags here in New Mexico, as soon as our residency allows him to do so.  In the mean time, we've run out of ground venison (still got some sausage!) and are looking for other options.

Store bought beef just isn't an option.  Let's consider, for a moment, the life of a cow in your typical ranch that raises mass amounts of cows for the beef industry.  If it survives its life as a calf and avoids the veal slaughter, a cow will eat a mixture that is mostly corn and hormones.  The hormones will help the cow grow disgustingly huge so that it will yield more marketable beef.  Ever seen a bunch of cows break into a cornfield to bust into the corn crop?  Probably not.  In all likelihood, if you've seen anything eating corn in the natural world, it was either birds or humans.  The truth is that corn doesn't provide the nutrients that cows need.  But because it helps the hormones in growing the cow beyond what its body was designed to be, it all of the sudden becomes a "good" thing to feed cows.  In addition and as you might expect, the corn makes the cows unhealthy and as a result they, belch and pass gas  - A LOT, which releases methane into the atmosphere.  

Methane is 23 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.  A single cow raised as described above can produce 26-53 gallons of methane per day.  This is about equal to that of a car that is used for a round trip work commute and errand-running in just one day.  How many cows are contributing to this?  Glad you asked!  1.5 billion.  You do the math.

I'm not evening touching on how inhumanely these animals are treated, either in life or in death.  Mostly because I'm an animal lover and can't handle the photos that the research would yield.  But I know what happens and it is horrific in most cases.

I know there are doubters out there.  I can actually think of a couple readers of Snack for Later who probably don't buy into this.  Think about this though: today on two separate news shows, there were stories about children in the U.S. hitting puberty many years earlier than they should.  Seven and eight year olds are going through this process at a ridiculous young age before they are socially and emotionally ready, let alone physiologically.  Early puberty also increases the risk of cancer, even for these young children.  Experts are still defining the causes of this but are saying that chemicals and hormones from our food are major contributors to this issue.  

So to all of you who poke fun at these concepts, I encourage you to look into it for yourself.  If you are going to knock something, at least be educated about it (which, by the way, is my general opinion of politics as well).  I just bought 60 lbs of organic, grass-fed cow from Soaring Eagle Ranch, less than 100 miles from where I live.  While you are worsening your health by gorging on fatty, chemical-enhanced, hormone-pumped fractions of animal,  I'll be taking meat out of my freezer that I know will be good for my health, not detrimental to it.

Leni loading up the freezer!

On one of the aforementioned news shows, Dr. Frank Biro, Director of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital was asked what can be done at the home level to prevent the problems created by early puberty.  His answer: "start living green".  

That seems to be the answer to a lot of problems these days.

Keep It Real!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Maggie. As a supporter of the organic food movement, I think this is something we all need to pay more attention to.

    I've sometimes given thought to becoming a vegetarian, and tried keeping a pescatarian diet (vegetarian+fish) for three weeks earlier this summer. But at the moment, I just don't have the cooking skills or the budget for it.