|How we see meat|
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century|
US food author M.F.K. Fisher once wrote about humans, “First we eat, then we do everything else.”
This is why each year we celebrate World Food Day, which falls on Oct 16. But despite the importance of food around the world, food cultures often differ greatly from country to country. For example, things like chicken feet, duck heads, and pig brains are commonly eaten in Asia. If you asked most Westerners to try one of these things, though, the very thought would probably be enough to make them give up meat altogether.
At the same time, however, the majority of people in Western nations regard themselves as meat eaters. So, what could be the reason behind this double standard?
There are a number of possible answers to that question, yet one major reason could lie in recent cultural changes. During the mid 20th century and the years following it, eating most parts of an animal was common in many Western countries such as the UK – perhaps owing to rationing as a result of World War II (1939-1945).
But later, during the 1960s and 70s, following the introduction of highways in the US and the UK, the popularity of supermarkets in those countries increased, wrote Francesco Burnett, author of Cultural History of Meat: 1900-The Present.
Thanks to the popularity and convenience of supermarkets, which tend not to sell animal parts such as the head or limbs, the public’s attitude of meat soon shifted. “The ‘animal’ gradually disappeared from meat, and people’s ignorance about what animal the meat they ate came from increased,” Burnett added.
As a result, it’s believed that many Western cultures slowly began to view meat as simply a food product, rather than as something that came from an animal.
However, this theory may go even further back if we look at the words the English language uses to describe meat. “We ‘de-animalize’ certain foods that we eat by giving them different names,” Hal Herzog, author of Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals, told online magazine Grist. “We don’t say it’s cooked pig; we say it’s pork. And we don’t say hamburger is made of cow; we say it’s made of beef.”
So it seems that there’s not one simple answer to this question. When it comes to eating meat, however, perhaps we should simply just enjoy the taste.
(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)