A visit to the butcher’s is never fun. The assembly line of butchering, preparing and cutting meat, display of carcasses, smell of blood is revolting enough and when I see cages of chickens waiting for their turn, it takes me real effort to put a stone face. And then, this week, on my regular trip to the butcher’s, as I decide to go in for free range chicken and the guy walks up to the cage and goes, “Which bird do you want?”
“Which one of these birds do you want?”
I look at the chickens.
Do they even know what is coming? Some are asleep. Some look uninterested. Some look worried. Maybe they have an inkling on what is happening a few feet away. Or may be not. They are probably just the anxious type.
Which one do I pick? The fat one? Or may be the sleepy one, as it could bring some calmness along with it. Um, definitely not the anxious one.
I finally give up. He picks a bird, weighs it and goes on with what he needs to do, as I say a quick prayer for the chicken.
No, this is not a rant against meat eating. Being a vegetarian is my personal choice, one I turned to a few years ago and I do not consider either practice particularly good or bad.
We, as a species, were definitely meat eaters before we discovered farming and became too lazy to hunt.
May be being vegetarian was a safe choice. Why chase deer and risk being attacked by wolves when you can grow maize in your backyard?!
But what does worry me is how sanitized eating meat has become.
When I was kid, we bought fish from vendors who would sell it on the streets. It was a full fish, still alive at times and my Mom had to first kill it and then remove the scales and go through an elaborate cleaning process before it is cooked.
Now we walk into a super market and buy neatly packaged filets. We don’t see the animal but only the cuts and the meat. We are so far away from the source of food that it is really hard to feel a connection with it, except to satisfy hunger (or boredom!)
I am jumping on the Mindfulness bandwagon, but there is so much to it. When you are grateful for and enjoy every morsel of food that goes into your system, when you appreciate the elements – the sun, the wind, the earth that have nourished what you are eating and the people – the farmer and everyone else involved in cultivating and bringing it to your plate, food becomes something that nourishes your soul, not just your physical body and taste buds.
Specifically when it comes to meat, a Hindu allegory states that eating meat can cause negative karma unless it is accompanied by prayers/ gratitude at three occasions – while butchering the meat, cooking the meat and consuming it. Offering the soul of the animal to Kali is supposed to send the poor soul to heaven thus freeing the person eating it from any negative karma. (Check out the Aghora series by Dr. Robert Svoboda)
That might be a little heavy to take in. But a simple gratitude and enjoying the food (not just meat) with all senses makes a whole lot of difference. In my experience, this allows one to be satisfied with smaller portions and keeps weight gain away. (That could just be the secret you are looking for to shed those last few pounds!)
I heard some time back that Mark Zuckerberg resolved to eat only the meat of animals he kills. That is as close as you can get to knowing the source of your food. But for starters, skipping the neatly packaged supermarket wares and paying a visit to your local butcher should be good.
Photograph by Desiree Fawn @ http://www.unsplash.com