How We Eat

Bonnie showed me this video over the weekend, which is actually an advertisement for restaurant chain Chipotle. Take a look:

First of all, how friggin’ awesomely haunting is this version of “Pure Imagination” by Fiona Apple? I’ve been humming it for days. But second—and more important—how about the message conveyed so heart-wrenchingly by the animated story? The first time I watched it, tears sprung into my eyes, I wanted to hug the scarecrow, and to be honest, there haven’t been subsequent views because the sad eyes of the cow make my heart hurt too much.

Aren’t we supposed to get harder as we age? That doesn’t seem to be happening for me. I’m getting softer. I cry much more easily than I used to (though, to be fair, I’ve always been a pretty easy crier), and I’m way more affected by the injustices in the world than I was when I was in my twenties. That goes double when it comes to animals. Any cruelty or injustice carried out with an animal as the victim absolutely horrifies me. I despise no celebrity more than I despise Michael Vick, thanks to his dog-fighting days. Don’t send me e-mails. Yes, I know he did his time. I don’t care. The man had no trouble training dogs to fight to the death and then killing the ones who lost, all in the name of money, and he’s still making millions in the NFL. I would spit on him if I could, I kid you not. I have taken to buying only shampoos, conditioners, and soaps that are cruelty free because I can’t stand the thought of some poor monkey or rabbit having shampoo squirted into his eyes or rubbed into his fur to see if it stings or gives him a rash just so I can have soft hair. (Side note: cruelty-free cosmetics are NOT plentiful.) And thanks to the Chipotle ad, I am once again reminded of the abhorrent conditions in which we keep dairy cows, chickens, and other livestock (not to mention the scary shit we inject them with) so that we can feed the people of our country.

You’ve all heard me talking in the past about the possibility of going meat-free. This ad has made me revisit that. I don’t love meat. Some people do, and that’s fine. I don’t. I can list on one hand the meat products I would miss as a vegetarian: turkey bacon, Bonnie’s chicken soup, my mother’s chicken cutlets, and my mother’s meatballs. That’s about it. Four things. I think I can manage. Conversely, I can think of no vegetable that I don’t like (with the exception of onions, and I can deal with them when I have to). So it seems like my path is clear, doesn’t it?

Bonnie does love meat, though she is also touched by the plight of the animals we read about. So, we’ve decided that we will cut our meat consumption way back (I’ll cut mine entirely) and what meat we do buy will be organic. I do wish organic meat wasn’t so expensive…I think many more people would buy it if it didn’t cost twice as much, but therein lies the rub, as they say. And since we’re cutting our consumption back, we should be able to be able to afford less meat for more money.

I know this decision of mine won’t change the world, but I think that at least if I am taking steps to make a change, that’s something, right? And I’ll feel better knowing I’m not part of the reason bad stuff is happening to those animals. It will still go on, I know, and it will still upset me to the point of nausea, but at least I’m doing something.

In the meantime, I want to say thank you to Chipotle for opening my eyes and my heart (again) to changes I can make, however small. And any of you out there who are vegetarians or who have suggestions for me, feel free to comment. I am open to education. Tell me what products work for you. Share your recipes with me. What do you grow? What do you eat? I’m all ears. (And I plan to continue to eat seafood…is that allowed?)

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Oh geez that just squished my heart parts. The cows!

I have basically cut most meat out of my diet. (My family has tons of heart problems, so want to give myself the best shot possible) It helps that I love vegetables and vegetarian food is pretty frickin delicious, but you’re right. When I’m reminded about the conditions animals are kept in it makes me feel like an asshole eating meat whenever I feel like it just cause it’s tasty. Good for you.

Cindy Rizzo

Georgia, I saw the video this morning and also loved it. I initially thought it was strange that Chipolte was behind this because I’d heard it was owned by McDonalds. But I just Googled to see if that was true and found out it’s not ( and that Chipolte actually does have a commitment to getting away from factory farmed meat. Good for them.

My partner is a vegetarian (not a vegan) and we don’t eat meat in the house. In NYC, there are many great veggie restaurants so we have choices that a lot of other people don’t. I think what you and Bonnie are doing is great harm reduction and if everyone cut their meat intake in-half it would make a big difference. So congratulations on your decision and good luck.

Angela King-McGavin

In place of chicken, I use Quorn. It is easy to find in any grocery store. It has the same consistency of chicken and is quite tasty. Hope this helps!


Bravo to you, Georgia. I have purchased meat, but from a local rancher who raises his beef on natural grass only and no creepy injections to make them put on weight faster . I have, however, greatly enjoyed the recipes from Roberta Roberti (also known as the author R.G. Emanuel ) called “What. No Meat?” I’d heartily recommend this cookbook from Bedazzled Ink Publishing. Not only are there delicious recipes in it, but there are wonderful tid-bits about the different herbs and ingredients. There is even a list of suggested menus in the back so you can lay out a dinner extraordinaire for yourself, or friends and family. Highly recommend this book!

Carrie Randall

Glad you are trying! Moosewood cookbooks are awesome. June Jordan cookbooks (might have to buy used or library?) are great. Good luck!

Linda Mac

Factory farmed meat is wrong on so many levels and I just won’t eat it. Here in Ireland I am lucky to live near an organic farm where, if the notion for meat is strong, I can buy it, knowing the animals have been ethically reared and its not pumped full of horrible chemicals. Organic food is terribly expensive and that certainly is prohibitive but it’s a straight choice; do I want to eat food which is full of chemicals and from animals kept in barbaric conditions just to meet my financial and practical requirements or do I want to spend more knowing it’s healthy, and from well treated animals? Earlier today I went to a local shop for groceries and decided that my budget didn’t stretch to organic chicken this week (3 x the price of the alternative), I instead bought fresh (organic) vegetables and made a veg curry instead of a chicken one. It’s a simple choice of buy it and support the abuse of animals or don’t buy it and show you give a damn about the other animals we share the world with.

Anne Beers

Hi Georgia, you are fortunate to live in a City that has one of the best Public Markets not to mention the numerous farmer markets. Most Saturday mornings I can be found there shopping and getting educated on where my food comes from. You should look for certifications displayed and you can also talk with them to find out their practices as many are not certified organic but do adhere to the practices as well as confirm if they are using GMO seeds. For those time you may want meat there are meat suppliers who are happy to answer your questions and I know of two that would welcome a visit so they can show you around. They are grass fed and organic and no hormones and antibiotic used. Also the fair game store has organic chicken cut up so when you want chicken cutlets you can have some. Our best know food chain in Rochester is also supporting our local farmers. Buying what is in season and local is one way to be sure of what you are getting. As for the recipes a google search for vegetarian websites is always good, stir fry of your favorite veggies is always nice, also if you get the Menu cookbook in the mail from that big food chain they have some great veggie recipes love the vegetarian Bolognese sauce, quiche with any assortment of veggies, vegetarian spaghetti and seasoning, make your own pizza’s. It is endless just let your creativity take over when you are in kitchen.

Georgia Beers

All very, very good advice, Anne. I need to try the veggie Bolognese, since a regular Bolognese (with meat) is one of Bon’s favorites that I make. I’ll give the new version a shot. Thank you!

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