One of my New Year's resolutions last year was to eat only Meat Of Known Origin.
I stuck to this resolution pretty well. But I did make some exceptions—for example, when I found myself at someone's house for dinner, I ate what was put in front of me, rather than explaining why I wouldn't eat it.
Why did I make this exception? Was it out of consideration for my hosts? If I had made my explanation to my hosts, for them to go on eating their Meat Of Unknown Origin would have been like admitting that they didn't care about suffering as much as I did, or didn't care about food as much as I did, or weren't as clever or resourceful as I was, or even that they couldn't afford to pay for MOKO.
Perhaps I made the other-peoples-houses exception not for their sake but for my own, so that I could avoid a conversation that might be uncomfortable for me. (I don't enjoy delicate conversations, although I am better at them than I used to be.)
It's pretty easy for me to eat Meat Of Known Origin while at home, surrounded by my familiar food supply chain and restaurants; eating MOKO on the road is generally much more difficult. So I made another exception when I traveled internationally, because language and cultural barriers made it harder for me to know where my meat was coming from, and because factory farming is somewhat less prevalent outside the US. Then I started making exceptions when I traveled within the US, for reasons of convenience as much as anything else.
Then I thought I was getting a cold, and I decided that what I needed was some of the delicious Vietnamese beef-noodle soup called phở. So I went to a Vietnamese restaurant and had some. (More about phở here.)
One of my resolutions for 2010: I will do better.
I just finished reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffran Foer. I recommend this book highly to anyone who eats meat, and to anyone who does not. In it, you will find such apparent contradictions as the vegetarian rancher, and the vegan who builds slaughterhouses. Foer explores the ethics and alliances of the world of meat in a nuanced way. Rather than simply presenting the facts, like a journalist, he provides useful moral and cultural frameworks, and invites us to explore for ourselves how everything fits together. He goes beyond previous writers on the subject of "sustainable" meat. Reading his book helped remind me that I could do better than I have done before—and that in fact I must. And perhaps even that I could eat less meat than I have before.
I would invite everyone to think about where their food is coming from, particularly their meat. If you do eat meat, have you explored sources outside the factory system?