I am an omnivore. I will eat almost anything, with the exception of bugs and innards. I guess if I was eating an insect, didn’t know it, and actually liked it I might change my mind on that exception. But I do not like the flavor of organ meat, whether it is liver, heart, gizzards, chitterlings, sweetbreads (thymus gland) or brain. I just do not like the taste.
On the other hand, I will eat any kind of meat, poultry, or game. Growing up I remember my mother cooking rabbit. Even though I loved bunny rabbits and watching Bugs Bunny on TV, I had no problem eating rabbit. Same for lamb, even though there is nothing cuter on this earth than a little baby lamb. And don’t get me started on cow eyelashes!
My favorite class is culinary school was the meat fabrication class taught by a man we students called Butcher Bob. He was a butcher in San Francisco for probably about 30 years when he was my instructor. He taught us how to properly handle all kinds of meats, poultry and fish. As long as I have a sharp knife, I can break down almost any kind of meat into primal cuts, filet a fish, and cut up a whole chicken in less than a minute.
My sister has been vegetarian for so long I can barely remember her eating meat. She is a vegetarian for humanitarian reasons, which I totally understand. I loath animal cruelty, have always had fur-babies (my cats) and will not buy products tested on animals. Yet I have no problem eating meat.
But, the meat I choose to eat is done carefully. I make sure to buy organic, humanely raised and slaughtered animals. I often buy kosher meats, as the process for being able to declare the meat kosher means the meat must be clean, and not from animals that are sick. That cannot be said of regular supermarket meat, as we have increasingly been made aware. Stories about salmonella, E-coli and other food borne illnesses are in the news everyday. People die every year from becoming sick from the foods they eat.
I shop at my local farmer’s market, and at most markets there small family farms which offer beef, pork and poultry for sale. I can buy free range chickens, antibiotic free, grass fed beef and pasture raised pork. I am even considering buying half a hog, and splitting it with a friend.
The biggest difference is in the flavor. I am constantly complaining about the fact that pork does not taste like it did when I was a child! When pork became the “other white meat” they had bred so much of the fat out of the pork it lost most of its flavor. Now I buy heritage pork, which are breeds of pigs that are no longer available in commercial pork production.
Cows are not supposed to eat grains, they are supposed to eat grass. When they are grass fed, the flavor of the beef is remarkably different than the beef raised on a corn and grain based diet.
Chickens should not be kept in tiny cages with not enough room to even flap their wings. Keeping so many birds together is a small space makes disease spread easily, which is why they pump the chickens full of antibiotics. Giving the chicken room to roam, even if it a small space, is better than no space at all.
Even though I eat animals, I want to know they were treated well when they were being raised and that they did not suffer too much when they were killed. Humans are part of the food chain as well as animals, so it is our duty to be aware, and respect the foods we eat.