Remember back in the day when it was cool to smoke? Oh man, those sloe-eyed sultry women who could inhale through their nostrils were my idols! Clicking open the shiny silver cigarette case, flicking the gold-plated zippo, inhaling the first whiffs of butane, then “zoopf” the flame itself, six inches high, dazzling in its initial flash, then the first tendrils of smoke curling around a glowing end.
It was pure Hollywood, peeps, and I was a part of it. So were many, many of my friends, starting in our early to mid-teens. There was a law about age, you had to be 16, but no one enforced it. Unless you looked about five years old, no one refused to sell anyone cigarettes. In fact, even if you were five years old, all you had to say was you were buying them for your parent or grandparent, and boom, away you went with a little box of death that in the late 70s cost about $2.
In the 80s, the health and welfare party poopers got real hot and heavy over the health risks of smoking, and in 1988 new legislation was passed requiring cigarette packages to list certain health warnings and it just snowballed from there, peeps. Before long, the age was raised again (and people actually checked ID this time around!), smoking was banned in public places, then in the workplace, then gruesome images graced the boxes. People were quitting left and right, like passengers jumping off a sinking ship. Tobacco companies rallied, but the health conscious boomers were stronger and today, smoking is persona-non-gratis everywhere.
But let me tell you, the uproar! The initial hue and cry! Campaigns about curtailing our rights to choose, personal freedoms, the financial impact on tobacco companies and tobacco farmers, oh the humanity! It was not a popular concept at first. Our health was less important than the income generated from the industry – I mean, how were these rich tobacco families going to continue to live their extravagant lifestyle? Would they have to sell a yacht or two? Perhaps they’d have to forgo a few vacations or budget for Christmas?
Eventually, those companies either rallied and diversified or they died out. But life went on, and the quality of life for many was so much better. Today, we recognize how bad smoking is for us, and the memories of the turmoil of the 80s and 90s, as changes were made, has faded.
I feel like this scenario is playing out again, peeps.
But this time, it’s with meat and dairy.
Think about it: animal agriculture is a huge part of our world. It’s not bread that is the mainstay of cultures around the world, it’s meat. Our diets are meat rich for the most part. Rarely does the average family have a meal that is not meat-centric with a side or two of high-fat carbs.
So think of animal agriculture today as the tobacco industry of yore; and the way people fight to continue to eat meat despite medical organizations and World Health Organization’s (WHO) warnings about the risks of eating meat.
Society at large does not appreciate the truths about eating meat, the same as they repudiated the truths about smoking back in the day.
I can see it now: suddenly, all meat packaging starts to carry warnings as to the health risks associated with its consumption, maybe even gruesome pictures of colorectal cancer and plugged up arteries.
Animal ag farmers and dairy producers are already crying foul as activists storm their facilities and expose their deplorable conditions and abusive methods. They are opening their arsenal of propaganda to fight to maintain their position financially and ethically, just like tobacco companies did way back. Billboards are going up for both sides, peeps, using the highways as battlegrounds, and slogans as weapons.
It seemed like an unwinnable war, for either side, until I recalled the tobacco issued and suddenly saw a resemblance between the two.
Now I know who will win (at least a majority) because the writing is on the proverbial wall, peeps. Been there, done that.
Health and welfare will start to take the lead, as usual; and anti-meat sentiment will raise it’s broccoli-topped head and brandish carrot swords whilst showing the world a better, healthier more compassionate way. I know it, because health and welfare won the war against cigarettes, so I know it will be victorious here too.
Sure, some people still smoke. It is not gone completely. I expect meat eating to be the same. Neither will be completely eradicated until many, many years hence. But I figure it’s a start – and every little step taken is better for the environment, for us, and for our children.
Only 40 years ago practically every man, woman and child smoked. Today, only 20 per cent of the WORLD smokes. That’s fucking amazing, peeps! And guess what – people are living longer – back in the 50s, life expectancy was 52. Today it’s 72. That’s a 20 year difference and probably much of it is attributed to the non-smoking lifestyle choices and changes we have made. After all, we have fewer smokers and fewer incidences of second-hand smoke diseases.
Imagine if meat were were mostly eliminated – life expectancy could be 82 or 92 – with less to no cholesterol ingested and very few carcinogens absorbed from processed meats, meat-related diseases would decrease drastically.
I changed my way of thinking about cigarettes way back when, and I quit smoking – as did most of my friends. Today, I also don’t eat meat or dairy – same with many of my friends. I adjusted to the changes both times based on new information and education about the reality of the industries and how they affect us and the world at large (not to mention the animals, in the case of animal agriculture).
If you can quit smoking because of the health benefits and what we now know, you can do the same with meat.