There is so much to say on the topic of eating meat: The treatment of animals at the slaughterhouses, how the meat is processed, the health considerations in eating meat, accessibility of quality meat, mass consumption and so on.
There are countless opinions on every side of this issue, but none of them seem quite balanced enough. While some choose to become vegans or vegetarians, many people are not interested in cutting meat out of their diets permanently. Vegetariantimes.com reported that only 10 percent of American adults adhere to a vegetarian-influenced diet.
On the other hand, the ethical treatment of animals (or lack thereof) at slaughterhouses and the actual process of meat production is really off-putting. There are a plethora of articles and news clips about the abuse of animals.
CNN recently reported on a case at California’s Central Valley Meat Company, quoting an undercover investigator from Compassion Over Killing who uploaded a YouTube video exposing the abuse, “At U.S. slaughterhouses, federal law requires death to be quick, when cows are shot in the head the process should cause immediate unconsciousness … At Central Valley, countless deaths we documented were slow and agonizing.”
Furthermore, health articles and documentaries alike warn of the food-safety risks associated with corporatized slaughterhouses.
According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, “There are many different types of hormones given to dairy and beef cows to increase rates of milk production and growth. Some of the hormones have known human health implications … Eating meat from animals raised on hormones may increase risk for cancer growth.”
Fortunately, there are other, more conscientious options out there for meat eaters. First and foremost is looking into local food options. Many cities, including Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit, host farmers markets. Eating local is much healthier than mass-produced food items because they use little to no pesticides, fertilizers or hormones. There is also the benefit of actually knowing where your food comes from, meeting your local farmer, supporting the local economy and better value in the food itself, both in nutrition and taste.
Additionally, there is the option of kosher, Amish and halal meat, which are available at a variety of stores: These religious alternatives have set rules as to how animals are to be treated while alive and processed as meat, which satisfies the ethical dilemma. The halal and kosher options, for instance, both require the meat to be killed with a quick cut to the jugular vein by a sharp knife, which immediately severs the brain-heart connection and is considered one of the most humane ways to slaughter animals.
Lastly, research how the animals are treated and the meat is processed by whatever particular store or company you purchase your meats from.
All three of these options are a step in the right direction. Being a meat eater is not a bad thing, but the apathetic attitude towards slaughterhouses and meat production most certainly is. In the same way conscious thought and effort are required of vegetarians and vegans, so too is it required of meat eaters.