When I saw the previews for "Julie & Julia," the film based on Powell's book, in which she spends a year making Julia Child's recipes, I had no desire to see the movie. I didn't know anything about Powell and very little about Child, but I figured the movie wouldn't be animal-friendly.
Child, I later learned, scoffed at vegetarianism.
Personally, I don’t think pure vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle. It's more fear of food—that whole thing that red meat is bad for you. And then there are people who don't eat meat because it's against their morals. Well, there's nothing you can do with people like that. I've often wondered to myself: Does a vegetarian look forward to dinner, ever?(For the record, I live for food!)
When I saw the sexist poster for the movie, I knew my decision to skip the film was the right one.
It seems cooking dead animals each day for a year wasn't enough for Powell, though. In "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession," she recounts an affair that threatened her marriage and her decision to learn the "fascinating trade of cutting up meat."
It's about following the seams between the muscles, separating them in the way they're meant to be separated; about the process of ushering a dead animal into something beautiful and nourishing and sustaining.Powell claims the work helped to focus her mind.
[It] became obvious that butchery is in the same class to me as knitting, or gardening, or certain skills that you learn, like a purl stitch.I've never cut raw meat. Even when I was a meat-eater, I found the sight -- much less the touch -- of raw meat disgusting. I've never cooked with it. So I'll just have to trust Powell -- and perhaps numerous serial killers -- that slicing flesh is meditative.
Personally I find chopping vegetables to be relaxing, and no one had to die for me to do that.
I wish Powell would view living animals as beautiful. She acts as if the animal died accidentally and now she's making amends for his death. But their deaths are entirely preventable -- if people would start recognizing whom they are eating and stop spinning meat-eating as something done to honor those "who gave their lives." If people such as Powell would stop romanticizing the cooking of murdered animals.
(Image courtesy of Vegan Underground.)