What is the meaning of meat eating?

Carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians -- the lines are blurrier than ever, and we'd like to hear your thoughts

Topics: Food fights, Ethics of eating, Food traditions, Vegetarianism and veganism, Food,

What is the meaning of meat eating?

Tonight, we have the privilege of publishing a beautiful, fascinating story by Luke Meinzen on eating horse in Mongolia. As I read it, I felt transported to that huge country of small moments, listening to conversations between a curious traveler and his gracious hosts. But more than that, I found myself thinking much about the central question of the piece: Why are some animals fair game for the table, and some not? What does it mean to eat meat?

As a cook and meat eater, I don’t ask myself these questions often enough, and I, too, had occasion to really think about them when I recently killed my dinner for the first time. I’ll explore some of my thoughts in an essay on Friday. The flavor, I have to admit, was delicious, but the feeling was much more complicated than that.

Thoughtfulness and conflictedness about meat eating — either in the abstract, or in the reality of our daily lives — is as much a part of our national conversation as I’ve ever seen. “Fast Food Nation,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Food Inc.,” “Eating Animals” — all of these were hits and bestsellers, the questions they raise about meat eating no longer just the chitchat of the self-congratulatory and the scolds. In this context, I’ve seen meat eaters turn to vegetarianism, vegetarians turn to meat eaters, and people everywhere on the spectrum turning inward to ask themselves why they eat — and love — what they eat. The questions are about ethics, morals, the environment, economics, social justice, land use, class, race, gender, tradition — you name it.

You Might Also Like

There’s an honesty and a sense of searching that’s exciting in this public conversation, wherever your own beliefs lie. We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories. Over on Open Salon, we’re asking for posts from people curious or conflicted about their own carnivorism, and I hope you find yourself moved to write there.

The issue is deeply felt for many, and passions will arise. I suppose it will be inevitable that there will be those who will take the opportunity to scold, lecture or mock others for their choices. But in the spirit of open conversation, please, let’s focus here on hearing one another out. Looking forward to talking with you. 

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>