A while back, people were raising quite a fuss about pink slime, aka the “lean finely textured beef” used extensively in the fast food industry. While I understand that a protein paste relabeled “pink slime” will never sit well in the minds of consumers, the reaction of the public– once informed about the existence of this processed goop– really surprised me. These are the same consumers who wolf down hot dogs, sausages, and chicken nuggets in massive quantities. Ground up animal parts repackaged into protein delivery systems is nothing new to the American public.
That being said, if you’re a hardcore vegan or vegetarian, you may be excused from this article now — because things are about to get bloody.
While we all have our particular food and mealtime preferences, I believe that if we’re going to raise and slaughter animals in immense numbers, and then prepare meat-based products from those formerly living beings for our dinner tables, we should eat the entire animal.
Full disclosure here: Once, while trekking through Thailand, I was served a delicious smelling stew at a small roadside eatery. After I sat down with the steaming bowl and took a few bites, I realized the stew had more in common with the gross-out meal served in the Indiana Jones flick The Temple of Doom, than any Campbell-based soup I had ever slurped down. Organs with odd textures, and what I took for dried up eyeballs, bobbed up every time I dipped my spoon. I tried to finish as much of the stew as I could, but having grown up in the suburban West, I wasn’t totally up to the task.
I’m made of stronger stuff now, and have eaten much worse (or better, depending on your tastes), so I know it’s not always a wise idea to ask the eternal question, “What’s a nugget, or hotdog, made of?”
I don’t seek out animal organs, pig lips or Rocky Mountain oysters (bull balls) as a matter of course, but if I happen to be digging into a delicious Polish kielbasa and someone tells me that a few animal parts I’m not accustomed to were thrown into the mix, I won’t complain. Hey, I’ve already made the choice to eat a meat composite product. It would be little hypocritical of me to start whining about the contents now. An animal died for the carnivore living inside my soul.
I’m a big fan of grass-fed cattle and eating locally, but I recognize that in a large country with a corn-based beef industry and some not-so-kosher animal farming practices, I won’t get a free-range chicken or a pig that led a happy life with every meal. So if an animal makes its way to my plates, you won’t catch me wasting the life that went into giving me this precious nourishment.