Caveat: Incidental Meat

I've been thinking about meat.  I read an article in Scientific American about the "carbon footprint" of eating beef, specifically.  It's quite stunning, and it has got me to thinking, once again, about whether or not I would ever seriously become some kind of vegetarian (maybe a chicken-and-fish-only type, or a real vegetarian, or even a vegan).  All those things have crossed my mind many times.  But I lack the self-discipline to stick to any of them, it seems like.

Only hours after reading the Scientific American article, I was ordering and eating bibimbap from Gimgane.  The amount of meat in it is negligible, I suppose – at most some flecks of meat that might equal something under a tablespoon.  I'm not even sure what species of meat it is.  But… I'm not the sort to be a hardcore "I don't eat such and such," it seems like.

Still, it seems the compelling reasons for avoiding various types of meat keep building.  There's health impact (unless you're an Atkinsian).  There's ethical impact (I have been reading a book by Douglas Hofstadter, I am a Strange Loop, wherein he offers in his first chapter a meditation on meat-eating vis-a-vis the question of the relative sizes of souls).  And now, particularly for beef, there's global environmental impact, too.  The basic point: if we ALL quit eating beef tomorrow, and let the beef industry die, we'd do more to prevent the continuing global warming trend than if we ALL stopped using cars tomorrow.  That's very plausible, if you examine the facts.

So, I'm wondering how I feel about it.  I've been developing a sort of approach that is kind of based on the distinction between "incidental meat" versus "intentional meat."  Intentional meat is when I go out and seek it.  When it's the "purpose" of a dining experience.  Incidental meat is where I'm eating meat because someone else has ordered it.  Or they're giving it to me.  Or it got added, unexpectedly, to something I ordered (like the bibimbap the other day).  Maybe something can be made of this distinction.