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Meaty thoughts….

meat

In the past few months there’s been a flood of information in the Australian media focussing on the ethics of eating meat.  I’ve absorbed a whole raft of information, some of it new but most reworded to make it relevant to today’s hot issues about animal welfare, the environment and health. The hard part is processing what I’ve learned, deciding what’s important to me as an individual then actioning changes to my eating habits.

I’ve an omnivore and have been most of my life. There have been a few times when I’ve eschewed meat and once for close to 12 months after a brush with bowel cancer, I was a vegan. Combined with a regime of meditation and exercise, that year ironically was the healthiest of my life, but for me, it was unsustainable.

After discovering I had fructose malabsorption again my daily diet was turned on it’s head. Many vegetables, lots of fruits and all pulses are excluded from the FODMAP diet so I found increasingly I was planning meals that included meat, fish chicken and pork mainly, but after reading “My Year Without Meat” by Richard Cornish and watching Matthew Evans’ documentary series “For The Love of Meat” on SBS I’ve decided it’s time for a close look at my marketing decisions.

I read Peter Singers treatise on Animal Liberation late in the 1970s while going through a wholemeal hippy vego phase. I’ve been conscious of the source of my meat ever since. For twenty plus years after that, it was almost impossible for a city person to be sure where their meat was grown, but thankfully for the past decade it’s been much easier to buy organic, ethically raised and compassionately slaughtered animal products from Farmers Markets and niche retailers.

The demand is driven by the high end of the market and it comes at an outrageous cost to the consumer, but if the treatment of animals is more empathetic to their natural needs, if the impact of animal husbandry on the environment is reduced then as far as I’m concerned, it has to be good. I choose the secondary cuts and cook them carefully and I reduce the amount I consume to bring my household budget back into balance.

I constantly remind myself that cheap food comes at a high price somewhere along the food chain, be it to the farmer and his workers, the animals or the environment. Rest assured the supermarkets are not missing out.

Western society has sanitised the harsh reality of meat consumption. Main street butchers shops have moved their cool rooms and cutting blocks out of sight and the meat delivered on styrofoam plastic wrapped trays to supermarkets deceive us about the realities of animal slaughter. Everyone who consumes the flesh of a dead creature be it fish beast or fowl in the guise of sausage, burger or bacon has a duty to acknowledgement that their consumption of meat is only possible because an animal has been killed.

But it doesn’t stop there. The dairy industry is also under close scrutiny. In Australia the two major supermarket chains were guilty earlier this year of sending farmers to the wall by paying then a price per litre that was below the production cost. Social media came to the rescue and the home brand milk languished on the fridge shelf as large numbers of Australians altered a life long habit of choosing the cheapest available and instead purchased milk that was sold at a sustainable price. I hope that continues.

The dairy fight is still not over because our enterprising farmers have found a ready market for dried milk in China. Now local cheese producers are crying out they need more milk, which brings us to the major ethical concerns surrounding the dairy industry. The separation of calves from their mothers, the wholesale slaughter of male calves and the fate of dairy cows once their lactation volume declines is another minefield. I’ll save that for another day.

Meanwhile the organic chicken I used to buy has become difficult to source since Matthew Evans showed the grim realities of “free range” poultry farming on the first episode of his SBS documentary “For the Love of Meat,” and I’m still not sure how to react to the disclosure on the ABC’s Four Corners program that all farmed salmon from Tasmania is artificially coloured.

Confronted with the realities of questionable salmon, hard to get chicken, gut aching pulses, minimal pork, lamb and beef all the while restricting myself to local and sustainable fish and organic eggs, veganism is looking like a strong possibility.

Don’t get me started on manufactured protein replacements.

Image from Pixabay

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

38 comments on “Meaty thoughts….

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  2. Napoli Restaurant Alert
    December 21, 2016

    Very well written. Since adding some lovely chickens to our household, it has made me think a lot about the treatment of animals

    Like

  3. ChgoJohn
    December 5, 2016

    A well-written, thought-provoking post, Sandra. I, too, “went” vegetarian some 20+ years ago and after about 6 months, found that I just could not do it. Of course, back then there wasn’t the selection of items that we have today. I marvel seeing an entire aisle in the grocery being devoted to GF, vegetarian, and vegan foods. Growing up, I witnessed the slaughter of countless fowl and even cleaned many of them, as well as Dad’s game after a successful hunting trip. I’ve no illusions about how meat comes to our dinner table.Those memories are rarely out of my mind when I’m standing at the butcher or meat counter. I may not be able to go without meat completely but I can make sure that my meat choices are more thoughtful.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 5, 2016

      Thanks John, I think we humans are meant to be omnivores, i need reminders to maintain balance from time to time. I find supermarkets soul-less and I think they are responsible for the disconnection between the consumer and food source. Thankfully in Australia the Farmers Markets are flourishing and redressing the blance.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Mackay Sherry
    November 23, 2016

    Oh yes this brings up so many thoughts and ideas for me too. I don’t even know where to begin. How the heck do we do the right thing unless we grow and rear our own everything ? It’s all a huge minefield.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 23, 2016

      It’s tough Sherry but every little change we make must help…

      Like

  7. Linda Duffin
    November 22, 2016

    Interesting, I’ve just written a yet-to-be published post along similar lines. That disconnect is a big issue and people seem to be increasingly squeamish about the source of their meat, while expecting it to get cheaper and cheaper. I think you’re right and the answer is probably to eat smaller amounts of ethically-produced meat. I try to support small local producers and we grow a lot of fruit and veg , but that’s easy for me living in the English countryside with a big garden, harder for people living in big cities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 23, 2016

      I think ood and morals seem diametrically opposed to most of the population in the western world Linda. The disconnect between food on the plate and it’s production is a huge issue here too. Food politics is a minefield that impacts not only our health but animals and the enviroment and I think it should be a compulsory subject in our schools. We do have a wonderful program in some junior schools which involves the kids in vegetable growing, cooking and eating vegetables, meat is never mentioned. I helped out at my grandaughters’ school in the kitchen. I saw proof that if the kids were involved they would eat veg. I had some interesting conversations with 8yr olds about what they had for dinner at home. Melbourne’s inner suburbs has a wonderful Farmers Mkt market set up. The sellers are all accreditted producers, a real Farmer’s Market selling seasonal produce, ethically reared meat, poultry, eggs etc. Sadly that system isn’t national.

      Like

  8. Conor Bofin
    November 22, 2016

    We are a lot luckier here in Ireland. With only a small increase in budget, one can source truly free range chicken, organic free range pork, lamb from the mountains and great beef, traceable to the farmer. I know where my organic farmed salmon comes from and pay about 8 Australian dollars per kilo extra for the privilege. The large scale factory production of meat and the industry’s efforts to sanitise, disguise and deceive is a shame to the “civilised” world.
    Great post Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 22, 2016

      Thanks Conor, lucky you, I miss that ready access to good ingredients. There seems to be an enormous reluctance by the vast majority of the population to hear the facts, somehow there is a disconnect between the food they put in their belly and reality.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Glenda
    November 22, 2016

    Oh Sandra, there are so many issues!! All we can do is our best. I make my own rules about what is ok and what is not and try to stick to it. I think the critical thing is to think about the issues and make informed decisions – whatever they be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 22, 2016

      It’s true Glenda, no choice is simple or without consequence. All that beautiful fresh home grown produce of yours is about as good as it gets

      Like

  10. Sabiscuit
    November 21, 2016

    I feel your pain. Sorry to hear that you had a brush with bowel cancer. I’m very happy that you’re fine now. The Tasmanian fish is horrifying. I realise that living in industrialised country means agreeing to consume preservatives, hormones and heavy metals. I love veal and goat mutton but I wait until I can get to New York. I’m supposed to be an omnivore but my body doesn’t process meat that is not grass fed. A cousin imports the veal/mutton from Jamaica. Because it’s fresh from the farm. They eat grass. I mean, it’s impossible to trust fresh food these days. Having autoimmune issues makes that very very difficult because everything irritates me. I have contemplated giving up on solid food several times over this weekend alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 22, 2016

      The incidence of auto immune disease, GI issues, allergies and intolerances in the western world is staggering and I suspect that the giant food processing companies have bought and hidden the answers which seem obvious to me, it’s denaturing that’s the cause. We don’t have to play their game, it’s just a tough road. Take care….

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lisa @ cheergerm
    November 21, 2016

    Its a minefield, I am thinking of living on air. Seriously, it is all so difficult and the more we find out, the harder it all is. Having to cut out pulses and various veggies does make it tricky for you. We eat so many beans and lentils. I only buy organic tofu and try to minimise processed food. What meat the boys and I eat is ethically sourced and the lads and I eat seafood. I was a vegetarian for quite a while too and sometimes find myself heading back there to join the Yak but I do love seafood and bacon. Good luck with your ruminating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2016

      It IS a minefield, and I know I’m speaking to the converted but here in Brissy I see I lot of mindless overconsumption and sometimes I feel as I’m unwillingly getting swept along….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa @ cheergerm
        November 21, 2016

        It’s a thought provoking topic and it’s great to read and ponder all the varying takes on it. I sometimes am startled when I am in our local butcher and I watch the amount of meat some people purchase in one go. But generally, I notice many around me becoming more thoughtful in their food consumption choices. Thoughtfulness and discussion is only ever a good thing. Moving away and getting used to new environments and eating patterns can be quite tricky I imagine. I only know how hard I have found it when travelling in places like America and parts of the U.K, where trying to find some decent fruit and veg is a challenge in itself. But the butchers all looked very well stocked!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. ardysez
    November 21, 2016

    You and I are, again, on a similar wave length, Sandra. Your article is well written and the thoughts are good. I have just about finished writing an article about how tired I am of trying to eat. If only I didn’t love food so much it would be so much simpler because my body certainly hasn’t made it easy over the years. My first digestive issues appeared when I was 17 and have gotten increasingly worse over the years, though, fortunately I’ve gotten increasingly better at dealing with them. However, those difficulties combined with where I live, and a husband who loves to eat meat, have caused me to wave the white flag lately. It doesn’t seem to matter what I try to do, there is someone writing an article about how unhealthy or unsustainable or unethical what I eat is. Sometimes all you can do just has to be good enough. I may rally again once I’m through the current change of things, I usually do, but for the time being, I’m over it.xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2016

      We all have our own journey Ardys and sadly the diet police tend to only know of their own. After a month of eating out entertaining and being entertained I was feeling like my diet needed a shake up. I do what I can within my ethical beliefs but sometimes I feel myself getting swept along out of control. It’s much trickier in Brisbane than it was in Melbourne, but I know a life without meat and dairy are not for me. I tried soaked beans yesterday, sadly without success.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ardysez
        November 21, 2016

        Oh bummer, Sandra. Was hoping it would work for you. It has helped me leave some meat out of our diet to be able to eat them again. I have had to do without dairy a couple of times and it is very hard for me, and fortunately did not seem necessary in the end, so I’m grateful for that.

        Like

  13. Francesca
    November 21, 2016

    As you know, I don’t eat red meat or chicken. We stayed close enough to that ‘wholemeal hippy veg stage’ for a lot longer. The book that influenced me most back then was ‘Diet for a Small Planet’, by Frances Moore, a revolutionary book for its time. We have since added fish to our diet along the way, mainly because I love the taste of fish and also because I am happy to catch it and kill it. I do buy it from a great fishmonger who can tell me about its source. When desperate, I also buy a bit of Atlantic salmon- the only fish in the nearby supermarket that looks reasonably fresh, despite THAT programme.

    I empathise with your issues- life without a whole lot of veggies and pulses and beans would be hard work indeed.
    The thing I often notice about vegan blogs and recipes is that they seem to use a lot of stuff from packets, prefab foods, and there is a tendency to eat sweet stuff and chocolate and snacky things. Last year I ate at a Brunswick pub and we ordered from the vegan menu. Everything we ate was fake and tasted like plastic. Real vegan food is very good indeed. One could be vegan for 5 days a week and have fish and dairy splurges on the weekend?

    Seeking a good balance is the answer I think. If you do eat meat or fish, limit the serves to 50-100 g per person three times a week. Eat it sparingly like the Chinese do. Be conscious of its source, support real butchers over supermarkets where feasible, and know that the grazing of beef does contribute to the warming of the environment.

    I look forward to further installments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2016

      Your advise is along my line of thinking. It’s just a reminder of my personal ethics, what I know to be good health habits and what suits my budget. I already have an archive of delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes, it won’t be hard. It will however be free of chemical laden processed foods!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. anne54
    November 21, 2016

    Thanks for you well thought through post, Sandra.I was a vegetarian for many years, but went back to eating meat when I found it was taking longer to recover from colds etc. Cost is such a driving factor, and influences my decisions. So I am going to investigate your blog to find recipes for the secondary cuts. I am lucky that the Vic Market has organic and biodynamic stalls. And the best thing is that they usually taste better too. My friend gave me some true free range eggs from her hens, and the colour and taste was eye popping!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2016

      You’re so lucky in Melbourne to have ready access to ethically grown food Anne, not only Vic market but Farmers markets that are accredited as being genuine growers markets. I miss that aspect enormously especially when I see Brisbane’s fresh food of questionable provenance in the same price range. (Wistful sigh)

      Like

  15. Debra Kolkka
    November 21, 2016

    It can be difficult to do the best by everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2016

      Yes it’s hard and I have been accused of over thinking issues but the buck does stop with me, the consumer.

      Like

      • Debra Kolkka
        November 23, 2016

        I don’t have trouble buying fresh produce in Brisbane. I think the Melbourne markets are great, but Brisbane is good too. Prices in Australia are ridiculous compared to Italy, but the selection is great.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ladyredspecs
        November 23, 2016

        I haven’t found anywhere in central Brisbane yet where I can buy meat directly from a small producer. Yes there are butchers selling good quality meat but none seem to be able to provide me with the provenance of the beast. They can tell me what breed the animal is and they can tell me where it was raised, but if i ask if it has been finished in a feedlot I get a blank stare. As far as vegetables and fruit go my nearby Farmers Market has a few small growers but there are also lots of on sellers. In Melbourne the sellers at Farmer’s markets have to be accreditted as having been involved in a link in the production. As I stated in my post I think cheap food comes at a price somewhere along the production line. I’d prefer no migrant worker was exploited in the production of what I eat. I don’t buy any fresh food from supermarkets. Any advice about where my needs can be met in Brisbane would be most welcome.

        Like

  16. katechiconi
    November 21, 2016

    We are now enjoying the reality our own demands and tastes have created, I fear. I will never be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, but I do feel the onus is on me to show respect for the animals I eat by eating not just the prime cuts but as much of the other parts as I can. I’m not at all squeamish about organ meat and offal, and am slowly bringing my grazier-bred husband round to the same idea. For him, meat has always been scotch fillet or a leg joint. In recent days, he’s raved over brisket, enjoyed heart and has voluntarily chosen chicken liver pâté. Oxtail is now a favourite. I have more of a battle on my hands with kidney and liver, but I’ll get there… I think if we all did the same, the economic impact on farmers would enable them to use less intensive and more natural and humane farming methods. I suspect many of them would infinitely prefer to do so, but are driven by market forces. I’m fortunate not to be faced by your FODMAP issues, but my own GF problems mean that I cook from scratch and use as little processed food as I can get away with. It doesn’t mean we eat boring food, does it? Necessity breeds creativity!

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2016

      I agree totally Kate. I know household budgets are tight for most but I see little evidence when I shop that secondary cuts get much consideration unless you put burger mince and sausages into the equation. I see a larger dependence on premium cuts of beef here in Queensland than Victoria, and much less grass roots retail. I’m with you in preparing everything from scratch, we are both fortunate that we have those skills.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sue
        November 21, 2016

        Like you, I cook from scratch, use the freezer to store a few extra meals for convenience, and almost completely avoid processed food…..and I can’t give up animal protein!

        Liked by 1 person

      • ladyredspecs
        November 21, 2016

        I often think Sue the more you do, the more you need to do. I need animals too

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sue
        November 21, 2016

        Oh, and I eat secondary cuts and offal

        Liked by 1 person

      • katechiconi
        November 21, 2016

        I wish I could pass some of those skills on, but there has to be a will to change, and a wish to learn…

        Liked by 1 person

      • ladyredspecs
        November 22, 2016

        That’s the hard part……

        Like

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2016 by in Beef, Chicken dishes, Cooking, Food, Lamb, Main Meals, Pork and veal, Poultry, Soapbox and tagged , .
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