Meat Me

Ashley Westbrook is a senior journalism major and staff writer for The Journal

When I was 13, I was watching Channel 5 with my mother. It stated that Schnucks was selling old meat and placing different expiration dates on the packages so they could still make a profit.  This disgusted me. Right then and there, I was an established vegetarian. My mother supported me through five months of my new diet, but my father all but stuffed a hamburger down my throat.
He said he grew up on meat and was healthy, and his kids would be raised the same way.
Growing up, I ate all the good foods, like chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers, lasagna, pizza and hot dogs. Each one of these entrées (and sometimes appetizers) included one thing: meat. Things in the delicious department started going downhill when my sister moved back in from college and started reminding our mother that whole grain foods were better, and eating so much red meat wasn’t the best for her growing daughter. Growing up I thought this was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard.
Now that I am 22 , I agree wholeheartedly with my sister.  I cook five days a week for my family.
If I don’t cook, my four-person household will sneak out the house and bring home fast food. Two days during the week, I make vegetarian dishes and, during the rest of those three days, I make sure to use little to no red meat. But don’t get me wrong, I make a mean healthy meatloaf.
At this point in my life I know that I won’t convert to vegetarianism. I love meat. Yes, I love chicken slathered in barbeque sauce and washing it down with a nice, cold cup of water. I can also go without eating meat for an entire day knowing that in the future I will be able to eat beef tacos.
Of course there are pros and cons to being a vegetarian. Pros of being a vegetarian include less animals being slaughtered. So, if the country decided to turn a thumb down on taking a slice of turkey, many animals would exist. Being a vegetarian can also be a healthy move. Eating more vegetables and fruits can keep body weight down.
The side of the fence I’m on carries a considerable positive argument. But research shows meat isn’t all bad. People who eat meat receive vital nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B-12. It’s nice to know that my extra piece of steak does do my body good. All things in moderation: the prevailing wisdom.
Students in one of my classes got into an interesting debate. All of them watched a documentary on the food industry and were completely disturbed by what they witnessed. Several of them decided to cut down their intake of meat altogether after watching the video. One point that the documentary made was that buying organic foods help out those who have small farms.
Then, someone made a compelling argument. I told the class that I cannot afford to buy organic foods. A student then pointed out we can afford expensive phone bills, cable, internet and all these other, more than $15 expenses, but people claim they cannot afford to buy organic. I applauded her for this, but I still couldn’t agree. I am trying to enter the world of journalism.
This involves being able to email, make a billion phone calls and remain semi-organized with my Android phone. I’ve contacted people through email and one of my contacts asked if I could text. Being young in this generation implies that we are able to own and work the technology of 2011. Not having a cell phone or access to the Internet is unfathomable.
When people say they don’t have a Facebook page, others tend to cock their heads to the side and stare at them as a new phenomenon.
Whenever I shop at the grocery store I tell myself I’m poor on a daily basis. This causes me to stay in the fresh foods aisle because those items sell for 50 cents or one dollar. Trying to buy processed foods is expensive and destroys the healthy theme I have in my house. While I don’t agree with being a vegetarian, I understand where they are coming from.
You don’t need to be a radical to be healthy. Like they say, all things in moderation. Just don’t give me a death stare when I order a bacon cheeseburger.

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