Before I became vegan, I spent a few years before that feeling somewhat reassured that sometimes, some of the restaurants I ate at, and some of the alternative grocery stores I bought my meat, fish, and poultry from, proclaimed, in some proud fashion, that their meat was “humane”.
To my credit, I was trying to be conscientious and make a best effort to do the right thing – it never occurred to me to stop eating animals – it was more like, don’t eat them too often and, when I do, try to buy the more expensive “humane” option.
When I moved to Portland, Oregon a few years ago, I was elated to hear them call it “happy meat”. It really made me feel better about it all. That was also about the time I started to hear the term “plant-based” for the first time and I remember thinking “So, because I don’t eat that much meat these days and, when I do, it’s “mostly fish or chicken” (a line I hear so often from others it’s hilarious to me now – yes, I was definitely one of those), does that mean I’m ‘mostly plant-based’?”
Then I thought, “But I don’t think cheese, butter, and eggs is plant-based.” And, since there was no question I ate a ton of animal by-products even if it wasn’t “that much” in the form of animal flesh (which actually wasn’t quite so true. Yeah, compared to a “typical American” I definitely was “low impact” on the omnivore scale, but not as pure as I had made up my mind to be) and started to ask myself, “So then, what does that make me”?
I didn’t pursue the question any further because it was territory I really didn’t know much about and didn’t want to know much more and, since my omnivore imprint was relatively small and I already did a lot of good in other areas, as well as had so many other important things to think about and do , I felt fairly comfy dropping the subject with myself, especially because I was now living in Portland, home of “happy meat”.
But I do remember thinking there’s going to come a time where the jig is going to be up and I’m going to end up like Bill Clinton and be told I had to give up eating my favorite things. I didn’t know what he was relegated to was called “vegan” or plant-based”, I just knew it sounded depressing and I dreaded that I was eventually going to have to watch “Forks over Knives” (I still haven’t seen it!) and stop eating everything I loved if I didn’t want to die of heart disease.
Now that I know better, it can be exceptionally painful to see so many like-minded people who still eat animals use that same reasoning I did so they can feel more at ease about it all, but still be completely unwilling to look at it when I bring it up. For that reason, I feel moved to speak out to those folks in particular.
Now that I know better, what could be more fun on V Day than descending upon Portland’s “farm to table”, “humanely-raised and slaughtered”, “local, organic, pasture”, “happy meat” restaurants on one of their biggest nights of the year to inform them, and their dining couples, that “humane meat” is yuppie bullsh*t (one of my favorite t-shirts).
Be daring. Go vegan.