A meat-free rant

cows

I’m not sure when or how some people forgot that chicken or fish are meat, but it appears that many are of this bizarre opinion. I’ve been faced with this a couple of times in the past, but it was brought sharply to my attention again this weekend in an article I read in the Sunday papers.

The quote that got my head shaking was along the lines about how Mr X had “stopped eating meat a long time ago, and only eats free-range chicken and sustainably-sourced fish”.

Um, what?! I hope it was just a case of the word “red” being dropped before “meat” due to space constraints – and granted it was more clearly explained in a pull-quote elsewhere on the page, but this example is just indicative of what I’ve experienced and heard elsewhere.

Like the time I was invited to a fish restaurant for dinner on a Monday and told that the restaurant was specifically chosen because it was Meat-Free Monday.

Or the time I overheard that chicken was fine to eat if you’re avoiding eating meat.

Let’s just be clear here for a second – the definition of meat is as follows:

“Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food.” (via Wikipedia)

That means that if you are planning to avoid eating meat for any reason (environmental, health, moral etc) you should be avoiding ALL of the following: red meat, white meat, poultry, seafood, game, processed meat, and even the newly developed petri-dish meat (because yes, if you believe the scientists, it is animal flesh). In fact, I’d go as far as to say that even the humble mopane worm could be considered to be meat.

So where does the confusion come from? Are the environmentalists and the Meat-free Monday movement to blame? Admittedly their focus is primarily on the ill effects of beef production, so perhaps that’s why people assume that avoiding meat equals avoiding beef.  Or is it?

The environmentalists refer specifically to cutting out beef and hamburgers; the vegetarians and vegan organisations talk about all animals – chickens often getting as much focus as beef; and let’s be honest, the campaign/movement wasn’t called “Beef-Free Mondays”.

How did the public get it so wrong? And why does no one say anything about it?

Personally – sadly – I think it’s because the average Joe can’t bear the thought of trying to be vegetarian for a whole entire day, so they just changed the rules slightly and decided that poultry and fish just aren’t meat. Problem solved. Roast chicken for dinner anyone?

One Comment

  1. This is exactly why I decided to use the word “flesh” to try to cover everything. It almost always causes people to wrinkle their noses in disgust and say things like “Eew, don’t say that”. It’s all about the Big Disconnect. More than a few times I’ve walked up to a food counter and have had to specify ‘vegetarian option’ (before going vegan) only to get the response “okay, so you want chicken then?”

    Deep breath… smile… explain. Be happy that I’ve (maybe) helped to enlighten somebody a little more…

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