Monday, February 14, 2011


By Shane Cashion

If that’s the case, I’m a cowpig. During my forty years inhabiting this body, I estimate that I’ve consumed in the neighborhood of 5,000 hamburgers and 15,000 strips of bacon. If you were to line that many strips of bacon end to end, they’d wrap around the Earth seventeen times. That’s what’s clogging my arteries. And to be honest, I never really gave it much thought, until very recently when a series of seemingly unrelated events convinced me to change my eating habits.

The first thing that caught my attention was a special I watched on slaughterhouses. For those unfamiliar with how slaughterhouses operate, it’s a pretty grisly affair. The process begins by feeding the cows digestively disruptive grain until they’re fat enough to slaughter. Once properly engorged, they’re led single file down a long, narrow corridor to an execution chamber where a machine stands ready to administer the death blow: a metal rod through the cows’ temples. Their skin is then pulled from their carcasses so they can be sliced into cuts of meat for packaging and distributing. It’s not a parade for the squeamish. I myself felt very queasy, although admittedly I was watching the sad lives of these death row cows in stunning 3D.

That evening I had terrifying nightmares about the potential afterlife consequences of my diet. I could see myself falling through one of the seven portals to this endless lava pasture where herds of demonic, free-range, mutant cowpigs grazed on what appeared to be the body parts of carnivorous diners like myself. When I awoke, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s the cows who will inherit the Earth.

Not long after watching this moving special (thank you Oprah), I read that Taco Bell was being sued in federal court for calling their meat, “meat.” Apparently their ingredients didn’t satisfy the FDA’s 35% minimum meat threshold to be classified as “meat.” Now I’m no Ag guy, but 35% doesn’t sound all that stringent to me. It makes you wonder what’s going into their 4th meals? And who’s their man in charge of butchering and ingredients? Leatherface? No wonder their hook is catering to drunks!

As I was reading about Taco Bell’s troubles, as God as my witness, I got a shooting pain in my neck. So I plugged “shooting pain” into Google’s search engine and just happened to notice my search history. In the span of no more than a week, I’d conducted the following searches:

Violent shooting pain in neck
Shooting pain in left arm
What side is your heart on
Is Operation Repo real
Horrible shooting pain in chest
Horrible shooting pain in neck
Aspirin regimen
Aspirin and hair loss
Sharp pain in head
How to fake your own death
Shooting pain right behind right eye
Will Propecia grow boobs
Shooting pain that lasts more than a minute
When to see a doctor if you’re having horrible shooting pains
Itchy feet
How old you have to be to get gout

Enough was enough. I knew that it was time to make a change. And believe me, this was no easy task. For years I’d fashioned myself a sort of connoisseur of low-rent grilling meats; brats, burgers, hotdogs, pork ribs, and even pork steaks were my specialties. And while I’d certainly order seafood or a nice steak when dining out, it’s the lunch menu that usually caught my eye: French dips, greasy cheeseburgers, potato skins with lots of bacon, anything that can legitimately be called “Bar Food” has always been my preference.

So, with all of that as a backdrop, I’ve endeavored to change my ways. I’ll still eat meat, just less often, and I certainly won’t become a Vegan, I wouldn’t know how, but now I order “Get Fit” salads from my favorite bar instead of bacon cheeseburgers. What’s encouraging is that I already feel a little better. My face isn’t as shiny and I have a bit more lift in my step, although now I’m always hungry, hungry enough to eat a horse….


Morgan Mandel said...

It's best not to think of where a meal comes from or for sure it won't be as enjoyable! I've found I absolutely need meat in my diet or I don't have much energy.

Morgan Mandel

Shane Cashion said...

I'm starting to experience that too, Morgan. I've responded by increasing my caffeine intake. It's always something....

Jean Henry Mead said...

Dieticians say not to eat meat portions larger than a deck of cards plus lots of organic fruits and veggies. I wonder how Methusila lived to such a ripe old age without a dietician, or the French woman who lived to 123 although she didn't quit smoking until she was 117. Good genes?

Shane Cashion said...

I think that's mostly it, Jean. Good genes seems to me like the biggest factor in avoiding so many afflictions

Bill Kirton said...

It's my good fortune to be married to someone who's not only a fantastic cook but also knows all about what's good and bad to eat. If left to my own devices, I know I'd take the easy option and do a sort of pendulum swing between pizzas and salads, the former for pleasure, the latter to assuage my guilt.

Shane Cashion said...

I hear you, Bill. As you well know, we're back in the throes of Champions League, which sends me right back to the bars in the afternoons and all those greasy cheeseburgers.

Bill Kirton said...

Ah yes, the Champions' League - and its most auspicious day yet. Tonight, the mouth-watering Arsenal v Barcelona - a game for aficionados and one which I hope will confirm yet again that this is indeed 'The Beautiful Game'.

Shane Cashion said...

Bill I'm three hours away from heading over to the bar. This is the one I've been waiting for, and I love your comment. If any two teams can bring us "The Beautiful Game," it's certainly these two. What must it have been like to have had season tickets to Barca during this Xavi, Iniesta, Messi era? I cannot imagine.

Bill Kirton said...

If I had it, I'd pay a ridiculous amount of money to be there tonight. Whatever they pay for their season tickets is worth it several times over. I watch Barcelona's league games, too, and seeing their 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid was like sitting in the Sistine Chapel with Helen of Troy in my lap and eating the finest chocolate and drinking a Château Pétrus 1982.

Shane Cashion said...

Ha! Very well said :). I too watched the Real game. Simply amazing. That was the greatest exhibition I have ever seen in 35 years of watching the sport. Bill is it fair to call Barcelona (over the past 3 years) the single greatest team ever assembled? Real was a joy when they had zidane, beckham, figo etc, but they never came close to what Barca does night in and night out. Xavi's and Iniesta's ability to control the midfield is unlike anything I've ever watched.

Jaden Terrell said...

Shane, I struggle with this issue these days also. Like Morgan, I just don't feel good if I don't have some meat in my diet, but as an ardent animal lover, I have a hard time knowing where that meat comes from. So far, vegetarianism hasn't "taken," but I think sooner or later it might. It would help if I could cultivate more of a taste for vegetables.

Bill Kirton said...

I've been watching football for 60 years and I can't remember a team (even the great Brazilian sides) which came anywhere near the perfection that Barcelona display so frequently.

Shane Cashion said...

Jaden, I'm with you. I've also found that eating healthy is very inconvenient, especially here in the middle of the country. there just aren't all that many easy options if you're on the go.

Shane Cashion said...

Bill, even when under extreme duress, inside their own box, they will never just boot it away. Never. They always try to play it out to someone's feet. It's really beautiful to watch. Very interesting to hear your take after 60 years. I had assumed as much. So, fairly predictable outcome yesterday. Barca picked up a road goal and now will beat Arsenal one or two nothing in Spain and advance.