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October 3, 2010

Faces of My Comfort Food

 

Pot roast and pork chops and fried chicken aren’t so very comforting after you stare into the eyes of the animal. I didn’t need to visit the Farm Sanctuary to realize I had to stop eating animals; I gave up meat after reading a book. But being with the animals — touching them, smelling them, nuzzling into their fur — reinforced just why it is I can’t consider them food anymore.

The thing is, I think I’m grieving a little bit. Grieving the foods that used to bring me such pleasure and also grieving the animals that suffered for that pleasure. But their faces are so beautiful that I mostly just feel joy to live on this planet with so many different kinds of beings. Here are a few that I and my blogger friend Heather Clisby visited at the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA last month. Read Heather’s BlogHer post, “Animals as Individuals,” to learn more about the animals’ stories and how they came to be rescued.

Discomfort Food

This is pot roast, an all-time favorite food since childhood. We used to call it “stringy meat” and always had it with roasted potatoes, carrots, and onions.

pot roast

And this is Harrison, a super affectionate steer found in a field and rescued as a baby.  I’m glad he’ll never be anyone’s pot roast.

Harrison the steer

Harrison the steer

Thanksgiving won’t be the same without turkey. Thank goodness.

roast turkey

But I never thought I’d actually pet one.

Harrison the steer

turkey

Beth pets turkey

The roast ducks hanging in Chinatown shop windows always creeped me out, but the delicious flavor overcame the creepiness.   Nowadays, I’m incurably creeped out.

roast duck

Okay, so this guy is actually a goose, not a duck. I’ve never eaten goose. And apparently, I never will.

duck

Buckets of KFC fried chicken used to be a guilty pleasure. I’ll never forget the night I smoked a joint (Yes, I inhaled.  It was a long time ago.) and polished off almost the whole container myself.

fried chicken

Chickens understand the munchies.  They like to wander around in the dirt and eat bugs. But being battered, fried, and eaten themselves is not up there on their list of priorities.

chicken

A little Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown serves pork chops with lemongrass. I can’t decide if that was my favorite way to eat pork or whether my grandmother’s smothered pork chops with stuffing and cream of mushroom soup were better. These days, I no longer have a favorite way to eat a pig.

pork chops

Meet Blossom, and consider this: Blossom is so pink, she has to wear sunscreen to keep from getting burned in the California sun.

Blossom the pig

I had to learn to like lamb. The slightly gamey flavor was offputting at first, but I kept at it until I enjoyed the taste. Ultimately, a pointless exercise.

lamb

The sheep at the Farm Sanctuary get to keep their flesh and their coats for themselves.

sheep

sheep

I’ve never eaten goat stew, or any other goat dish, but I understand the flavor is interesting. I’m glad I’ve never eaten it because it turns out that I’m a “goat person.”

goat stew

I loved the way the goats pushed up against me as I leaned back against them. They are strong and sturdy and playful and curious. And they’re good at just hanging out. In a perfect world, I’d get paid to just hang out and eat anything and everything. Maybe I’d be a goat.

goat

sheep

I mean seriously.  Who can resist this face? Not me.  The only way I want to eat this animal is metaphorically, as in “Ooh, you’re so cute I could just eat you up.”  It’s weird, but I think you know what I mean.

sheep

Note: The 3 photos of me petting animals were taken by Heather. You can see more of our Farm Sanctuary photos on Flickr.



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12 comments
Christopher
Christopher

We are all sentient beings. Isn't that reason enough not to eat an animal?

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

I know what you mean about how weird it is to buy meat. But to me, it's important to have a connection to the animals I am feeding to my animals. I realize I am making a conscious decision to trade one life for another. My cats are obligate carnivores. They don't have the choice that I do of whether to eat meat or not. If I let them outside, they could hunt and kill their own food, and I wouldn't have to be involved. But that's another decision I make. We keep them inside so they don't destroy birds. Pets have an unfair advantage in urban environments. Pets and farm animals are all a part of human's impact on the planet. That said, I am a total hypocrite because Michael actually buys the meat and cooks the food so I don't have to. :-)

sui
sui

Oh cool, thanks! I went to a natural pet store and got some natural raw food (frozen) but they're all packaged in plastic, grr, so I don't think I'm going to continue (I'll probably just get the occasional stuff from the butcher as a treat for her). The main cat food we give her to eat is Prowl from The Honest Kitchen, a local San Diego brand that is gluten-free and processed in an FDA-inspected facility (most commercial pet foods aren't! blech!). Their boxes are made of recycled cardboard but they do have a plastic bag inside to hold the powder... rawr. We would make our own except I think it'd take a lot of time and as non-meateaters it's kind of weird for us to buy meat unless we go to local grass-fed specialty butchers. Bleh! /rant

sui
sui

Hear, hear! I haven't read Eating Animals yet but the book that pushed me towards being (now) a vegan was Fast Food Nation. Learning how the meat industry affects EVERYTHING, it's hard to keep on going. I do wonder how one can call himself an animal lover who eats animals. I became a vegan for environmental reasons, but everything the meat industry affects is important to me as well. By the way... what do you feed your pets? :) I just adopted a cat a few days ago and am feeding her raw meat. :D

ClizBiz
ClizBiz

Oh, Beth! I love this post! And the photos - oh, I miss all our new animal friends already. (Harrison and Melvin especially.) After our wonderful time hanging out in the turkey pen, I'm going to have a weird Thanksgiving. Although I stay on the vegetarian menu most of the time, sometimes I fall off the wagon. It is rarely worth it and those so-called 'comfort foods' provide less and less comfort as the years go by. I'm so happy we were able to experience the Farm Sanctuary together. Looking forward to our Celebrity Party! ;-)

Danielle
Danielle

Beth you know that I'm with you all the way on this... while it wasn't a book that changed my perspective... instead a whole series of events that finally pushed me to recognize what I've known all along... eating animals just doesn't feel right (even when it tastes so good). Having backyard chickens... them becoming part of our family... has been one of those things that is a constant reminder why I choose not to eat meat... they are so sweet... and smart. They come when we call them, know when we have food (they follow us around like dogs), know our schedule (we have a rooster that doesn't make a sound until he hears the dogs food hit the bowl)... I love our chickens and am sad that so many don't have the lives our chickens have... Because of your recommendation, I'm in the process of reading "Eating Animals" now... my husband said, "why do you want to read that?? we don't eat animals." And then I read him the paragraph about Thanksgiving... last year, even after I made the announcement that I was no longer going to eat meat... I bought a turkey to appease others. This year, we will not be having a dead animal in the center of our table... AND... that paragraph made me feel at ease with my/our decision. Comfort food doesn't have faces anymore... and it feels so good. :)

Clif
Clif

I've been reading Rousseau's Emile his account of how a person should be brought up. He has a few pages devoted to meat-eating and why it's something we should not do. It starts with this sentence: "The indifference of children towards meat is one proof that the taste for meat is un-natural..." after which he attacks meat eating with several arguments. You might find it interesting. It can be found on page 165 at Google Books and remember this guy was writing in the 1700's!

autumn
autumn

omg, i LOVE that turkey with the grass hanging out one side of her beak and snood over the other side! and then all that wattle.

Kathy Stevens
Kathy Stevens

Beth: Thanks for the post, the photos, the transformation! One of the points I try to make to visitors at Catskill Animal Sanctuary is that in ways that matter, we're all the same. It seems like you experienced a little of that on your recent visit to Farm Sanctuary.

Pheas
Pheas

Oh, yeah, I didn't give up meat (22 years ago!) because I didn't like the taste. But you know what? I love not being part of that violent system way more than I ever loved Dad's chicken-fried steak or Mom's pork chops. Being able to live with oneself and sleep at night is a huge comfort, but I also have lots of great new (vegan mac'n'cheese) and old (mashed potatoes) comfort foods!

Vanessa
Vanessa

Thank you for this article. The most common response that I get, when people learn that I don't eat meat, is... "I like it too much to give it up". People think that all vegans and vegetarians gave up meat because they hated it - when a good many of us didn't. I still remember my father's breaded pork chops fondly, and the smell of KFC still makes a slight, involuntary flutter in my belly (much to my disgust), but nothing will overcome my love for all these creatures being alive rather than on my plate.

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