I figured out how to get on Blogger from school! Yay! I feel so dangerous right now... ;) Anyhoo, 2nd semester started today, and I still need to get some scheduling issues figured out. =( I guess they don't offer any art classes 1st period except for photography (I like taking pictures, but I don't want to take a class on taking pictures). So I have to take another study hall. Ugh.
I wrote an essay for school about why we eat meat. It's for English class, so it's more opinionated than informational, but maybe y'all would like to read it! I still need a title... opinions/critique are most definately welcome. Here goes...
Why do we eat meat? It’s something we’ve all considered, or at least wondered, whether we’re high-raw vegans or frequent diners at Outback Steakhouse. I’m not going to try to convince you to stop eating meat; I eat it too. But why? If all the livestock suddenly disappeared from the earth, would we survive? Of course we would! This is the 21st century and in America, food is everywhere. In impoverished nations where meat is the food source, there is just cause to eat it. The entire reason we started eating meat in the first place was its accessibility. But now, all food has nutrition labels, everyone has their own preferences, and if you want something specific, chances are good you can easily find it at the grocery store.
If you were given the choice between a steak and a block of tofu, you would probably pick the steak. It’s been scientifically proven that our flavor preferences are more or less determined in childhood. If Mom used to give you a chocolate-chip cookie after you cleaned your room, then you probably like chocolate-chip cookies. If you always got a peanut butter sandwich on Wonder bread in your lunch bag, it’s no wonder you think wheat bread tastes like cardboard. Likewise, the foods you dislike are decided during childhood, too. I, for one, cannot drink fruit punch because I saw another child vomit it up at a birthday party when I was three years old. I know somebody who dislikes macaroni and cheese (the epitome of kid food) also because of a bad childhood experience. And I bet you’ve seen the baby food commercials which claim that babies who eat vegetables will continue to eat them as they grow up. The same is true with meat. We tend to make choices based on what we know, and what we know we will like. A child growing up in a vegetarian household will develop a taste for tofu just as one in a meat-eating family develops a taste for steak. The vegetarian child never craves steak, nor does the meat-eating child crave tofu.
But if we develop our flavor preferences during childhood, why is meat such a prominent part of our diets? Because it has a healthy reputation. We all need protein for our bodies to function properly. But how much do we really need? The USDA’s food pyramid states that we should eat approximately five ounces of meat per day, which is about the size and thickness of two decks of cards. Do we even need this much? Some theorize that the five-ounce recommendation was developed by meat processing companies to encourage sales. But even with this recommendation, have you ever seen a five ounce steak on a restaurant menu? Me neither. Portion sizes are out of control, and no matter what the food pyramid says, it is incredibly difficult to estimate exactly how much meat you’re eating. Even if you eat six ounces of protein per day instead of the recommended five, you’ll end up eating twenty-three pounds more per year than you (supposedly) need. Not only can too much protein be unhealthy, so can too much fat. Unsaturated fat is good for you, while saturated and trans fats are not. Saturated fat comes from animal flesh. When you eat it, it is digested to become fat on your body. Even if you purchase the leanest cut of meat, it still has some degree of saturated fat in it. However, foods like yogurt, nuts, and beans can all be purchased with no saturated fat. And these foods often contain healthy unsaturated fats, plus vitamins and minerals that meat lacks. Meat does, of course, have some nutrients in it, like iron, but so do beans, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. So, all things considered, why do we continue to eat meat if there are more nutritious alternatives available?
And that's it. =)