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How To Be A Conscious Carnivore

Culture
Photo by Brittany Bennett

This little piggy went to the farmers market

The lamb meat sizzled in the skillet and catapulted scorching specks of fat at my forearm. Every hiss of browning meat sounded like a scolding and soon my family was joining in on the judgment. I was cheating on vegetarianism with food I had played with.

A few hours before hovering over red meat, I was frolicking through a field in upstate New York with two lambs chasing my heels. Green hills stretched wide and if you covered every surrounding license plate, you could mistake New York fields for English moors. When I was invited into the shepherd’s home, he offered me a quarter pound of lamb. A quarter pound of a sibling to those little lambs who had just nipped at my sneakers. I remember saying “no” out loud, but it must have been slow enough for the shepherd to sense curiosity and offer again, seducing the meat eater I once was.

If I bought this kind of meat, from the pasture outside the kitchen window, I would be supporting a person who raised animals for consumption, arguably the right way. I had observed the lamb’s daily activities: a chomp of pistachio shells at 11, congregate for a chorus of baas on the hill at 11:30, receive kisses between ears at 12, be bottle fed at 12:15 by squealing farm visitors who take too many pictures. A quick trip to pet lambs turned into an elaborate lesson in the emotional and financial investments of starting a farm from scratch. Shaking my head profusely, I said yes, fine.

Everyone gasped when they heard I ate the meat I met. “I don’t want to know where my meat comes from,” one friend announced. And therein, carnivores, lies the problem. 

Your hamburger was confined by cages before the buns. Face it, it was once cute. If you don’t want to know where it came from, then it was most likely raised on a factory farm. Here's a quick lesson in why that’s not ideal.

Factory farms don’t just produce patties with an astonishing detachment from conditions in how livestock live but also greenhouse gases (translation: not good) and a whopping 61 million tons of waste per year according to the Organic Consumers Association (translation: not worth the Big Mac). 

But meat doesn’t have to come from this place. You can say the word “local” without being an obnoxious hipster. 

Find out where your city sets up tents for their farmers market. Seek out your local farm and witness how your future food lives. Does it really eat grass? Is the grass green? Are the chickens truly free of cages? If a trip to a farm isn’t easily accessible for you, start a conversation with a farmer by calling. Some grocery providers in your area may have a butcher that has a relationship with quality farmers. Follow these butchers on Instagram (strict vegetarians beware) to peek into their passion for quality cuts. This is over-the-counter meat you can trust. Keep your eyes peeled for the Animal Welfare Approved label that ensures meat was raised with care for both the animal’s and environment’s well-being. An inch towards understanding food production and why a good food system matters can make a difference.  

It’s impossible to smack away every hand that reaches for the juicy mounds of beef fresh off the grill. It’s impossible to clog all the spouts of condiment bottles about to garnish a sausage in protest. This is not about turning the meat eater onto soy. People will always eat meat because people always have. It’s about illuminating and understanding better options.

When the burger was ready and my family forgave me (because they remembered the time they ate bacon that morning), I adorned it with hummus, feta, lettuce, and red onions. I cared for the construction of the burger as much as I did the lamb I fed with a bottle. With the first bite I could taste the earth of Bovina, New York, like I could identify the dewy blade of grass the lamb snacked on. 

Ignore etiquette and play with your food. This way, you can have your burger and be conscious too. Find animal welfare-approved farmers here.

Paprika Parsley Lamb Burger

Ingredients:

For the Patty

¼ pound of ground local lamb meat

¼ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Burger Topping

Bun

Feta cheese

Pickled red onion

Spinach leaves

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the patty. Knead together with your hands until all spices are distributed evenly throughout the meat. Form into a disc. 

In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, cook the lamb burger until done, about 4 minutes per side.

Place the burger on a bun and dress with feta, onions, and spinach.

Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment/Netflix

We're shook and shaking our heads

Awards season is indeed on the horizon. Today the nominees for the 71st annual Emmy Award nominations were announced, crowning the best in television programming over the past year—from June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019, specifically. For some performers, creators, crews, networks, and fans, this is a time for celebration and congratulations. For others, it's a moment of disappointment; or at the very least, an opportunity to complain a little bit.

Here are my snubs, surprises, and the nominations that I'm so excited about I could scream.

Snub: Tracee Ellis-Ross in 'black-ish'

Three-time Emmy nominee Tracee Ellis-Ross was not nominated for her role in black-ish, and I would like to speak to the manager.

Snub: 'The Masked Singer'

The Masked Singer might seem gimmicky, but it's actually really good and has shaken up the monotony of other singing competition shows. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the Emmy voters.

Surprise: 'Surviving R. Kelly'

I was admittedly surprised to see Surviving R. Kelly validated as one of the most impactful docu-series of the year. It has changed the conversation about sexual assault and grooming and added pressure to law enforcement to hold the singer accountable. It was nominated for Best Informational Series or Special.

Snub: Julia Roberts in 'Homecoming'

Julia Roberts stepped off of her well-established film actress pedestal to bring a PODCAST to life, and this is the thanks she gets? She killed it in Homecoming, and yet it didn't get a single nomination.

Surprise: Beyoncé's 'Homecoming'

Speaking of Homecoming, Beyoncé's Netflix documentary about her 2018 Coachella performance—which doubled as a tribute to HBCUs—was nominated for Best Variety Special. All she has to do is win this, snag an Oscar for The Lion King soundtrack, and put Broadway in her GPS, and Beyhive, we have ourselves an EGOT!

Snub: 'Gentleman Jack'

Gentleman Jack didn't get a single nomination. It hasn't even been a full month since Pride, and we're already shitting on gay rights. Wow.

Snub: 'Grace & Frankie'

I know that Grace & Frankie went off the rails a little bit this year, so I get the show being absent from the Best Comedy Series category. But for neither Lily Tomlin or Jane Fonda to be recognized just feels… wrong.

Snub: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse'

Jessica Lange is that bitch and deserves her nomination for returning to American Horror Story: Apocalypse. But Evan Peters should have received some recognition for wearing that terrible wig while he played a Satan-worshipping tech bro; Sarah Paulson carried the show; and nothing but respect to MY antichrist, Cody Fern.

Snub: 'Haunting of Hill House'

Another horror series that deserved a chance this year was Haunting of Hill House. It was scary as hell, but also a great drama about a family dealing with grief and trauma. It could be that the Emmy voters were too damn terrified to make it to the end, though. Fair.

Surprise: Billy Porter in 'Pose'

Billy Porter got a Lead Actor nomination for Pose, and I can't think of anyone more deserving. I can't wait to see what he wears on award night.

Surprise: Jharrel Jerome In 'When They See Us'

It cannot be understated how much Jharrel Jerome deserves his nomination for Lead Actor in a Limited Drama Series. His performance in Ava DuVernay's When They See Us still haunts me.

Surprise: Kit Harington In 'Game of Thrones'

Kit Harington as Best Actor. IKYFL.

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