Even when people eat off of paper plates, a barbecue yields a metric fuckton of dishes. That’s an actual amount. I looked it up. With science.
I don’t believe in cleaning up after a party on the same day as the party. If you clean up before your guests leave, then you’re neglecting them. If you wait until after your guests leave, then you’re too drunk to do anything the right way. I was way too drunk at 10pm last night to do anything but stare at the mountain of dishes piled in and around my sink and say “this will have to wait until tomorrow. Afternoon.” But dishes mean that people ate, and as far as I know, nobody got food poisoning (yet). Also:
I won a game of washers!
Owen smiled at me!
Kat and The Brad came!
Sarah brought her cheesecake (which I had for breakfast)!
I used the fancy Vietnamese cinnamon Christy bought me to make a chocolate cake!
Dustin and Niki brought me 30 beers, one for each year of my life!
More than one person brought me flowers and chocolate!
An entire picnic table of adults was engrossed in a coloring book!
We have so much meat left over!
And that’s after we gave some meat away. While I don’t take after my parents all that much, as I get older, I realize that I’ve inherited my father’s legs, my mother’s laugh, and both of their tendencies to send people off with a plate. “Did you eat enough?” I hear myself asking. “Let me make you a plate.” I’m not even trying to get rid of the food. It’s just this thing built into me where I can’t stand for people to leave hungry, and there’s something in my brain that confuses hospitality with forcing people to take home foil-wrapped packets of whatever it is I cooked whether they want to or not.
But back to the meat. The New York Times Magazine recently had an essay contest to make an ethical case for eating meat. The finalists’ essays are here (the winner is Jay Bost) if you care to read them.
I know all about the ethical challenges of eating meat. First and foremost, as a bleeding heart animal freak who has warned Graham that our future dog may have one eye, three legs, and gray snout because I just can’t help myself, I am aware that eating meat requires the killing of a sentient being. However, I also understand that there is a world of difference between a cow being raised and slaughtered within the factory farm complex and a cow that lives in a free-range, sustainable environment before being killed in a small-scale, independently-owned operation by people who consider butchery to be a craft instead of a job.
The same thing goes for people who claim that chickens are exploited for their eggs, or that cows are exploited for their milk as an argument for veganism. Look, what you choose to deny yourself in an effort towards self-control is your decision, but again, it comes down to the source of what you’re buying. Yes, there are heinous conditions at some factory chicken or dairy farms. But there are also small, independent, responsible farmers out there who produce quality product at no detriment to their animals.
Personally, I’m much more comfortable eating a burger made from a single cow that I’ve met in person, or frying an egg I bought directly from the farmer who retrieved it from a coop than I am eating a tube-shaped Franken-dog made from a thousand types of soybeans from five different countries and processed in a factory whose job is to make vegetable-ish byproduct look and taste like meat. I know what impact my burger or my egg has on the environment, and it’s a lot less than some corporation who seeks out conveyor belt space, parking lot acreage, and billions of gallons of fossil fuels to make a highly-processed meat-like product.
The ethics of eating meat are mostly about sourcing. Do you know where your food comes from, and how it got to your plate? Are you comfortable with that? Anyone who denies the ethics of meat because they thinks it’s too hard to comprehend this difference or seek out the better, more responsibly-raised product is just as lazy as some morbidly obese Power Scooter owner who shoves the carcasses of thousands of animals down their gullet in the form of pre-formed Wal-Mart hamburger patties.