Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Confessions of a guilty meat eater..

This past weekend a conversation with Kashif, and Asim got me thinking. (Ahem, please note the shout out) We were talking about Kashif's chacha (paternal uncle) who lives out in the country and buys his own free range chickens that lived happy lives frolicking in the fields before they become, well dinner. The taste of these chickens is unlike any other I've ever eaten... and that troubles me.

Some months ago I grew troubled when I learned what the animals we eat, eat. As I researched, I was horrified to learn of factory farms. I vowed a life of only veggies but talking to Kashif's mamu (maternal uncle) who works for Tyson and has all sorts of degrees in agriculture -chicken- cow related studies he talked me down from my vegeterian cliff based on his research and experience. He did recommend drinking milk from cows not pumped up with hormones inducing lactation because it stays in the milk but he didn't think it was a big deal and drank such milk himself.

So I put it out of my mind till recently when I read this post by Tee. I also had not read the particular article on factory farms that I posted above back then either. Reading the wikepedia article just made me feel ill. So now I'm back in "indecisionville." I am not opposed to meat but it doesnt sit well with me that their lives were so cruel and inhumane. I love hamburgers, chicken fajitas, kebobs, and all other sorts of yummy goodness and if the treatment was fine I woul not be having an issue. To give up this is a real struggle for me. If I decide not to eat regular meat anymore is it fair that Kashif stop too? Organic meat is very expensive so meat would be eaten a lot less frequently. Do I make two seperate meals for dinner every day? If I go to someone's house for dinner odds are they arent serving organic food, do I just eat the vegetarian dishes? What if they have no vegetarian dishes? Doesnt that look rude? Most of the things I know how to cook are meat related and I dont like Tofu. It probably doesnt seem like a big decision but it feels like one to me. Anyone been through this or have an opinion?

Ignorance was bliss. *sigh*

38 comments:

Enyur said...

You just always have something interesting to say don't you! No wonder you're so popular! :o)

Yes, I've been through this dilemma. My dilemma actually started when I realized that the halal meat we find at stores, is not really halal. Halal meat is supposed to be good for you because it's slaughtered in a way that the blood is drained (to prevent clotting) and assuming that the animal is fed 'veggie' feed (i.e. grass and not some other chemicals). Well, I stopped eating meat for awhile, only to realize I couldn't resist it and because veggie burgers don't taste like normal meat burgers.

Also, organic meat is expensive and you can really trust wholesalers that say the meat is organic (anyone can make up a certificate or sticker!) So, now I've just adopt the 'eat in moderation' approach. Don't eat too much, maybe have meat twice a week or when you have to (like when you're invited to dinners).

Enyur said...

Sorry, I just realized my thoughts sound so disjointed lol!!

Anyway...just to add...I'm not a fan of tofu either but if you can find 'good' soy - the kind that doesn't smell old - try that...because it does actually taste pretty good..at least better than tofu!

Also, try substituting paneer (desi cheese) in foods that call for meat. And just cut down on how much meat you eat.

estarz said...

This is why I like getting those Eggland's Best Organic Eggs. U can taste the difference. They have a completely healthy vegetarian feed and the chickens are not caged. My kids dont like them cuz they have that yellowish color on the eggshell.

Another thing. Lately people I know have or their loved ones have been diagnosed with cancer or heart problems. Makes me wonder!

Aisha said...

Enyur I heard that about zabiha meat. I do know that a lot of the meat that goes to Saudi etc that is "zabiha" is from the same line as the food that goes to the regular grocery store, the only diff is sometimes they put a casette with the Quran as its cut on repeat. But the chicken was raised the same, ate teh same etc. I dont know about it. I will have to try soy and yeah maybe just reducing how much I eat would be a more moderate approach... I dont know :( I just feel so guilty about it now.

Estarz I will try those next time I go to the supermarket. Thanks!

Mia said...

I know what you’re going through. A few months back because of health issues (allergies) I had to go vegetarian. It wasn’t too bad for me because my family has never been big on eating red meat but chicken we love. My mom does the cooking at home so I eat the same stuff my family eats except that I don’t eat the meat they are eating instead I substitute a morning star farm product for the meat. I buy a lot of morning star farms stuff it tastes just like meat/chicken but its not.

My friends and fam all know I’m a vegetarian so whenever I go to their house for dinner they make sure there are plenty of veggies and salads for me. If I happen to go to someone’s home and they don’t know I am a vegetarian I explain and eat what I can.

I have a lot of non meat recipes so if you want any drop me a line.

Aman said...

You stole my comment with the last line :P

Subhana said...

I eat meat rarely, and if I do its only chicken.
No offense, but I am just so disgusted about the thought of what the animals eat and how the whole process of slaughtering is. Also, I happen to find the taste of meat yucky (again no offense to any meat lover). Yikes.

And you're so right about the visiting families part. They think I am weird when I tell them I dont eat meat. And the sad part is, I am stuck with the chawal and salad :@. They mostly go 'awww, poor you.'

Jane said...

First teflon now this? Why do you insist on making me think? Pardon the pun but you've definately given me food for thought. We do already buy cage-free eggs but it is nearly impossible to find organic or cruelty-free meat here at a reasonable price. Jd is a BIG carnivore so it's not like I can't buy meat, although I have gotten him to eat much more turkey and chicken instead of beef. I'm stuck in this quandry with you. Let me know what you decide to do.

Edward Ott said...

A lot of people are going veg cause of health concerns, i frecked out a little when i discovered that Tyson chicken is the ONLY one not feeding their chickens Arsenic. why would anyone feed chickens arsenic.

Salam

Aisha said...

Mia what are morning star products? Are they tofu type things?

Aman- yes ignorance- i miss it dearly! :)

Subhana yeah its practicaly unheard of to see vegeterian desis :) I do love meat and I like the taste and all, but an animal is supposed to be treated with respect when it is slaughtered so its not done cruelly. Even the so called Zabiha meat has been under criticism these days for being mass prdocued similarly in similar farms.

Jane; aw sorry! I should have put a disclamier: warning if you like meat and dont want to feel ethically obligated to do otherwise DO NOT READ! lol. My hubby is the same way, loves meat. We cut down on red meat but I dont know.. I am giong to be thinking about this one for a while before I decide since its for me a major lifestyle change. btw- do you buy egglands best for your non caged eggs?

Edward, arsenic??? I never heard of that. What would the purpose be?

mezba said...

At home we always get Halal meat which is slaughtered on a farm and lets the blood flow out. We also know our butcher well (he was in the middle east before). At the end of it all you have to be able to trust your Muslim butcher, or find one you can.

I also eat more chicken than beef (white meat vs read meat). Not only is it healthier, chickens eat more grains and organic feed than cows. There's also this type of chicken we get here - it's called Hard chicken - it takes longer to cook, but its cheap ($3.50 per chicken and tastes really, really, really yummy).

Aisha said...

So Mezba you know that the animals are raised on a farm with enough space, no beak trimming etc?

I agree chickens are healthier.

Hard chicken?!? hmm :)

Raheel said...

only you can decide.. animals are fed with chemicals.. gross!! why didn't I know it before? Maybe that defines the greatness of KFC.. who knows?

Jane said...

Actually Aisha, we are fortunate enough to buy eggs from a local family-run farm at our grocery store. They only cost a few cents more than the big company brands. The eggs generally tend to be larger and have more colorful shells, which is kind of fun.

Tee said...

Aisha - Since I posted about factory farming I have been struggling with this very same issue.

I also HATE HATE HATE Tofu.

Where we live there is one health food store and it is small and expensive.

You bring up the other problems - a spouse who isn't interested in my moral quest and picky children. LOL.

I have decided FOR NOW, to just eat more organic and natural products in general as they become available to me.

And right now I'm craving a McDonald's double quarter pounder. Disgusting. LOL.

Shabina said...

Pork = haram.
Chicken = bird flu.
Beef = mad cow.
Tofu = gross.

That doesn't leave us with many options, does it? :)

My cousin Nilofer likes to say we shouldn't make our bodies graveyards for dead animals.

I agree; it's all about moderation. I'm not a big meater myself, but I do love me some chicken mukhnee. Yum...

Chic Mommy said...

Well, think of it this way. That chicken served in front of you is dead now, regardless of what kind of life it lived, and it's cooked up quite nicely. It would be a shame not to eat it. It's the circle of life honey, it ain't always pretty, but humans need some form of protein to thrive. If you go veg, you're going to need to include daal and yogurt in your diet. Some strict vegetarians don't even eat eggs because they are the unborn fetus of chickens. Speaking of which, I had scrambled eggs for breakfast and now I'm feeling bad about it.

~ruthie said...

Aisha,
It's commendable that you feel so strongly about the humane treatment of your food, however, put it into this perspective--at this point in time, there is not enough land available in order to allow all animals to be bred "free range". As cities expand, and people move further out, less and less farmland is available for the raisin of animals/grains/vegetables. In order to feed the world's populations, factory farming is a necessary evil.

I'm not a proponet of it, as I, too, feel for the inhumane treatement, however, I do choose to limit my consumption of meat products to a minimum.

Being a vegetarian is hard, especially if you like meat, dairy, or cheese. And yes, organic products ARE more expensive.

Noone can tell you what to do, but I think that you and Kashif need to discuss this and make a mutal decision regarding both of your diets, especially if you feel strongly enough about it. You shouldn't have to fix two separate meals, but you can get protien from peanut butter or legumes like beans, or from eggs.

good luck with your moral diet delimma--and let us know what conclusions you come to!

ASH said...

Aisha, Jo and I have been wrestling with this for some time. We finally agreed that we would have vegan days (certain days of the week) and meat days (since we can't give it up entirely). We also work hard at making food from scratch, thus we know what (in most cases) we are putting into our food. Do we still eat the processed stuff? Yes, but not as much and I believe that counts for something. We try to eat more vegetarian, and also more time consuming dishes....but I believe in the end we come out ahead.

In this day and age you have to be careful what you eat.

Aisha said...

Raheel, gross nah?

Jane thats an ideal situation, maybe there are some hidden private farms here too...

Tee, yeah its turned me off from eating out since you gotta think, for McD's and BK to offer meat that cheap in their burgers... what kind of meat must it be. Shudder...

Shabs, graveyard for animals... wow. That sure does sound like Nilofer, lo. Wait. Does that mean she's a vegeterarian??

Chic that's another way to look at it, in the end its dead... but I feel bad!! :( And let me rephrase I DO like meat and am not against it. Organic meat is treated better when the meat was an animal...

Ruthie, you are so right, practically speaking these things are done because there ar emore people who need food at affordable prices. IT's life. Your'e right. And infact the debeaking is done so they dont peck each other and engage in cannibalism when so closely confined. But surely they can have a little more space??? It just feels wrong. I mean, if that means that people dont eat meat as much as they'd like if it meant the animals could be treated better so be it... just cuz we're on the top of the food chain doesnt mean we can treat those below us any way we want...

Ash- that's commendable that yo'ure trying that. How long has it been going on for? Just cufrious.

Mia said...

No tofu in the nasty yeechy way you might expect it to be. It’s all vegetables soy etc. Honestly I don’t miss meat or poultry at all. Here’s the link check it out…

http://www.kelloggs.com/brand/msfarms/

momyblogR said...

My opinion....ignorance IS bliss! Do you MIND? LOL!!!

The whole process of how our meat arrives in the supermarkets is insane and definitely very unappealing. UGH!

I personally would not be making differents meal, I'd be crazy. And being a guest in someones house, that could be uncomfortable too. "Um, excuse me...could you please tell me exactly what kind of life this bird had and how it ended" While you have your sixth helping of string beans, lol.

See, THIS is why I love living in my ignorant bliss.

Great post, always. :)

Aisha said...

Mia- next time I get groceries I'll pick up some up to sample. If its that good life just got a little simpler :) THANKS

Mommyblogr. You have no idea how hard I laughed, I laughed till I cried when I read your comment. I can only imagine the look on my hosts face if I were to very plainly with a poker face just ask them to relay the life the chicken led before it became our meal. Must put that in my upcoming book on "101 way to lose your friends" lol! Sorry about the meat downer. Next time I post like this I'll post a warning along with it!

mezba said...

Aisha,

I am not really troubled by ethical reasons of modern farming. Beak trimming, smaller cages, etc. do not matter a lot to me - I am of the opinion that all creatures are made to serve man and as long as we put back what we take (replant trees for cut wood, allow farm animals to breed and so on). A bit of Ann Coulter, anyone?

However, the medical reasons of modern farming do bother me. I don't like it when they put hormones and liptose in the feed to fatten the cows. I don't like it when they feed dead animals to cows. And I don't like it when they put chemicals in the chicken to make them lay eggs without yolk. That part of modern farming is terrible. And let's not even go near genetic engineering.

Part of the reason why I think our grandparents back home and other older folk lived to a ripe old age was that their food was free of preservatives, unnatural elements and chemicals. We have got better healthcare, but because we need it due to the unnatural food we eat.

Aisha said...

Mezba, lol :( But I think their treatment does matter. Islam is full of the sayings and stories of the prophet and the importance of treating animals with kindness and respect. I heard a story of a cat who fell asleep upon the Prophet and if he got up the cat would wake up and he sat to not disturb the cat. And I'm sure you heard the famous story of the prostitute by the oasis and the dog who was parched and dying of thirst and she gave him water and God forgave her for her sins? Sure the're cuter than chickens and cows maybe but they're animals. One of the reasons for Zabiha meat is to slaughter the animal in a way thats not only good for us and our health but also in the least painful way for the animal. If slaughter the meat according to the zabiha method to cuase least pain etc then it doesnt sit well with me that they lived their lives in a cruel and inhumane manner. Ok, I shudder now b/c I totally sound like a Peta lobbyist or something, but animals cant speak up for thesmelves and for the very reason we are on the top of the food chain I feel we must watch out for them.

And yes my concern is two fold. Not only for their mistreatment but also the effect on us of all the chemicals they are treated with and fed. It certainly affects us in some manner.

Cindi said...

My goodness but it seems the blogs I've been reading are dealing with this subject. This has also been a much debated subject along with halal foods lately. A friend recommended the site eatwild.com to find farms who raise and sell free range meats/animals. Yes, it's more expensive than "regular" meat in supermarkets but if all the junk added/fed to these animals is ingested and you then have health problems as a result wouldn't you pay anyways? This is my rationale I'm considering in changing to eating only organic or grass fed meat. If I was to eat at someone's home who didn't serve organic meat I guess I would probably just eat it since that wouldn't happen all that often, if it was a real problem then just the veggie dishes. I'm pretty much convinced to switch to organic and/or grass fed meats myself. Great blog!

Mohammad A. AbulHasnaat said...

am jealous of the traffic on your blog... :(
i wanna steal some... :D

Aisha said...

Cindi, really you've been hearing about this topic a lot? Interesting! You said it so well that now I'm sold... wow... yes organic meat is expensive but youll be paying for it someway or other. SO TRUE. Thanks for the website. I am going to call a few of the local farms tomorrow to see if they deliver b/c even the local ones are over 50 miles away! :( maybe they vend to local grocers hopefully! Thanks for the tips!!!

Mohammad, welcome, and traffic? *looks both ways* what are you basing it on?

Mohammad A. AbulHasnaat said...

:D u got cluster maps...
that showz your visitors per day...
bhoolgaye kya???

Mohammad A. AbulHasnaat said...

wel, thankx...
but lemme tell u something bout my WEBLOG... itz intentionally not a personal one :D

mystic-soul said...

I don't know how much we can save ourselved from all 'technological pollution' ranging from waves of cell phones to artificial eggs !!

Let me quote from famous novel "A fine balance"

A: Stop smoking, it will kill you

B: Don't worry, pollution of Bombay will kill me anyway !!

adnan76 said...

Aisha,
I've got the solutions to all your problems.

You should go out and hunt your own food... that way you'll be assured that the animal had a good life prior to being food, and I think that killing and cleaning and preparing the animal would really give you a sense of appreciation for it without the guilt. I find myself wasting food too often, so I think I really have to do this atleast once. Fishing would be an easy way to start off, but I hate fish.

Anyway, is this why Kashif isn't joing us at Fogo tomorrow? :)

sami said...

came through abulhasnaat's blog. nice blog you keep here.
i have always relished the vegetarian food more than the non-vegetarian ones. but stopped eating non-veg food completely only a few years ago. the main reason was that i couldn't tolerate the ill treatment meted out to these speachless living beings, by treating them like lifeless objects.

i had stopped taking milk long before than that. the milk that is supplied here in india is too bad for the health.

Tee said...

mystic-soul - That is a great book! One of my favorites.

Aisha said...

Mohammad, yes duh, I guess that gives an idea of my traffic though I dont think its accurate, and yeah some people have a bit more personal blogs, some choose not to, up to the person I guess whatever makes you happy :)

Mystic's back :)Since Tee also likes that book and you do too I will have to put that on my wishlist! :)

Adnan, if I kill my own animal I will never eat meat again. And I dont necessarily want to do that either! I like meat! I just want to eat meat that lived well but I dont want to see the deed done! :) If I buy a store bought free range chicken wont no guilt b/c I will trust it lived fine. I'm not saying chickens need little palaces with butlers. I'm just saying dropping them all on top of each other with hardly enough room to breathe is inhumane. It's extremely cruel.

Sami- welcome and thank you :) Do you supplement with calcium pills if you dont drink Milk?

wayfarer said...

I am not talking about meat anymore after the big battle on my blog but must say that tofu can actually be good. I tried it a few times recently and it's not half bad if you know how to doctor it up. I have a bunch of sites that will be helpful to you if you decide to go the veggie route. I'm working on doing it myself and having meat only a few days a week. I'm reading an interesting book on the subject too called The Gradual Vegetarian. It's a process to become a vegetarian. You might like it...

sami said...

the calcium that i get from mung, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, spinach etc looks sufficient for myself. the real problem comes for the females who have to fight the calcium loss due to the pregnancies. majority of the middle aged women are also over-weight, hence the need for stronger bones. i was told that 50% of the calcium requirement for the middle aged women has to be filled through the calcium pills.

Anonymous said...

Nice! Where you get this guestbook? I want the same script.. Awesome content. thankyou.
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