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I’m a vegan, but can I buy a cow?

I’m a vegan, but can I buy a cow?

As a vegan and a vegetarian for more than 14 years, I never thought the day would come that I’d be shopping for a cow.
But folks, the food industry is so scary these days that it has come to this.
While I follow a vegan diet, I am not a “vegangelical,” as a pair of my friends call those who jam their holier-than-thou strict dietary ways down the rest of our throats. I have even allowed my children to choose their own paths through the world of culinary delights, which has resulted in my having one ova-lacto vegetarian; one poultry eater and one boy who eats anything-that-won’t-eat-him first.
That same boy has taken to culinary arts as a passion and knows a decent piece of meat from a cheap cut any day. He enjoys a nice slab of beef every now and then, but also has a growing sense of what’s best with which to cook.
My concern is what’s best for him to eat. And here’s where we have the issue.
I’m taken aback by food industry practices that support the 99-cent menus at fast food chains, which may or may not be meat at all. There has been plenty of publicity about the food industry with movies such as Food Inc. and Supersize Me. None of it is very appetizing.
My newest discovery in the food industry is “meat glue,” a product used to hold meatlike substances together.
Thrombin, the actual name, is usually made from an enzyme in cow or pig blood, and is used to give meat-stuff shape. Think fake crab and chicken nuggets, although some chefs use it to make fancy dishes as well. There’s also the low-end foods such as hot dogs and sausage that are held together with the stuff, or some scary things masquerading as “steak.”
For instance, there is “restructured steaks,” which really aren’t steaks at all, but chunks of bad meat stuck together with animal blood plasma and “meat glue” and then called a “steak.” Cook it till well done, they say, or you might get sick. Yuck.
I don’t think you need to be a vegan or vegetarian to think this is gross. And the point is, I just want to know that my meat-eating son is eating – well — meat.
So, the vegan is cow shopping. It’s a growing trend, I’m finding.
They call it cow-pooling. Here’s how it works: You and a friend or two or three pool your money together, find a rancher who practices humane and environmentally sound practices, then buy a whole, half or quarter of an animal. You cut out the middleman and wind up with meat that you know is not only real but high-quality. You also support a local rancher who is doing the right thing as far as food production goes.
Now, I must admit, every bone in my vegan body cringes at this, but I don’t know what else to do. If you eat meat or love someone who does, take this seriously. The production of our food has changed. Know where your food is coming from and keep it close to home.
If you have more interest in cow-pooling or finding other organic ranchers to do business with directly, check out http://www.eatwild.com.

Kumai Kelly is a licensed massage therapist (MA56756) and journalist and can be reached at kumari_kelly@yahoo.com.

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