If meat branding was like cigarette packets
At Wandering Cooks, we care so much about what meat our world eats. Why? It feels almost droll to say, because it’s been said so many times before. Fuck it I’ll say it anyway… most meat is produced in utter, mind blowing cruelty. And every individual’s buying decisions either support or reject this cruelty.
There is too much suffering, too much damage, too much coverup going on in the name of cheap, bountiful meat.
I almost sound vegan don’t I? with one major difference: I think that eating meat is going to happen, should happen even, for a sustainable food system to generate itself. It’s not if we eat meat but how.
Here at Cooks we think that if we can disseminate our care and passion for a different kind of animal farming as we grow, as the businesses we are growing grow, we can transform the way our city eats. One food business at a time, we will support not cruel factories but caring farmers.
Now there’s a slogan for you.
I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again, even in the face of potential backlash from vegans who think the idea of eating any animal is already beyond evil. I feel emboldened because Matthew Evans has put his weight behind the argument, and comes out trumps. I’m thankful we have such strong thinkers like him on our side.
But how do we make even more people care? how do we make more take the effort to buy from the kind of farms who utilise animals in a regenerative, ethical system? We’re working at it, but I’ve always squirmed at having to confront people directly, with the blood on their hands, so to speak. Calling people on their carelessness isn’t an easy business choice to make.
I’m trying not to throw ‘the truth’ in peoples’ faces. I’m trying not to be rude, not to show them a reflection of themselves in their choices. I’m trying not to say:
The animal farmers we support are expensive compared to yours because you’re not even supporting a farmer! You’re supporting a factory! a system of cruelty! That’s where the discount lives. You’re demanding cheap meat with your choices and your choices are leading to animals being treated worse than anyone wants you to see… because if you did see, you’d surely make a different choice! so look. LOOOOOOOK!!
Yep, not the wisest of business approaches.
But reflecting on it now, I think there’s a place for shame, just not ours to deliver. Rather than having the ‘converted preach’, the way vegan activists tend to do (and I did above), what if the shame was self induced? Driven from a transparency that made it impossible to look away, or disengage?
I’m imagining images that link consumers directly with their choices through their brand of choice. No one’s forcing meat factories to show us real images of their production. They show us rolling hills and happy cows from some fairy tale, but what if they weren’t allowed to do this?
What if all their branding- their websites, their labels, their packaging, could only use real images of their animals in their production, what would happen then? If cigarette companies can be forced to do this, why not meat companies?
I’m not talking about generalised images of cruelty that could be put down to worst case examples dug up by vegans hoping to stop us eating meat altogether, but images that join us in matrimony with the animal behind the parts we purchase.
There for everyone to judge, there for us to acknowledge every time we buy. Like a stamp on our foreheads that says ‘this is the kind of cruelty I accept’. Maybe then we’d feel too shameful to buy into the system.
Then the factories would crumble and rebuild for a different kind of market. Surely.