( Since this post is about non-vegetarianism, vegetarians might want to give it a miss .)
Cowpooling is a term that means ‘ joining together with others to buy a cow in order to share the expenses and then divvying up the meat after slaughter.’ It’s a trend that apparently has come into vogue over the past couple of years as people try to maximise the flavor and freshness of their meat .
It reminded me of the one and only time I’ve experienced the taste of really fresh meat.
Several years ago, my brother-in-law came to know of a South Jersey farm where you could place an order for a whole lamb. He did so ,and when he got his order, he distibuted the meat among friends and family. I still remember it as the best lamb that I’ve ever eaten. The boneless cubes were melt-in-the mouth tender and had none of the strong taste that I usually assosciate with lamb. He felt the same way too but, in the twenty years since, we have never repeated the experience. In my case, and maybe in his, there are still feelings of guilt with eating meat much as we love its taste. I do eat meat , much less frequently than in the past, and cowpooling would be too direct a connection between me and the animal.
Growing up in India fifty+ years ago, refrigeration was still a luxury , and meat was not available neatly packaged as it is now. In order to buy chicken, one went to the live poultry market, picked out a live chicken, saw it dipatched in front of one’s eye’s and watched it cleaned and cut up to order. My father was unable to bring himself to pick out a chicken for our meal and would instead select from among the already cut-up pieces that were available. Others were not so sqeamish and he had to watch chickens being slaughtered while he waited his turn. It was too much for him and so we never had chicken at home , only eating it in restaurants. I myself went only once to the poultry market; that was quite enough for me.
I realize that this may sound like hypocrisy to many. After all, if I eat meat what difference does it make if I obtain it in a shrink wrapped package or ‘fresh’ to order ?From an ethical point of view, it makes no difference at all. And yet it does to me, and to many others like me. It assuages our sense of guilt if we are not directly ‘connected ‘ with the killing of a particular animal.Even as determined a carnivore as Anthony Bourdain seems to experience a twinge of guilt when he goes hunting in Africa , or when a goat is slaughtered for an alfresco picnic in Greece.
Even though non-vegetarianism is the norm in our society, I wonder how many of us would be non-vegetarians if we had to arrange for our meat individually. My guess is that it would be about a third or less of those who now eat meat.