I saw a great video by earthling ed which I’ll link at the end of this article. It inspired me to share my thoughts on why we call meat “meat”.
I believe we’ve essentially become desensitised to what meat actually is: animal flesh.
If you visited your local supermarket and saw above an isle “animal flesh”, there’s a chance that you’d think twice before going down there?
The term meat comes from the word mete which actually just means “food” in general.
The word meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general. The term is related to mad in Danish, mat in Swedish and Norwegian, and matur in Icelandic and Faroese, which also mean ‘food’.
And the words beef and pork come from French words way back in the early 11th century when meat, sorry, animal flesh was seen as a delicacy.
According to eGullet, it all goes back to the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066. When the French took over England, there became two ways of saying a whole lot of words, and from a gastronomic standpoint the French won out (as they usually do). This is likely because the lower-class Anglo-Saxons were the hunters (so we get the animal names from them), and the upper-class French only saw these animals on the dinner table (so we get the culinary terms from them).
– Daily Mail
So imagine, we’re all the upper class French now that don’t see the killing that goes on behind the scenes and have come up with new names for it to remove ourselves from feeling sad.
I wonder how many more vegetarians or vegans there would be if images of slaughter houses came out in the mainstream media or if people actually took visits to slaughter houses to witness it happening.
I also wonder if we called pork “pig flesh” and beef “cow flesh”, would people keep eating it?
It’s disassociation. There’s actual videos online of children realising animals are being slaughtered just for food and they’re horrified!
Watching that makes me wonder why I didn’t make the connection when I was a kid and didn’t get completely upset? Because, now, the thought of eating animal flesh disgusts me!
So I challenge you, stop calling meat “meat”, call it animal flesh and see what happens. See what reaction it gets from people. Let me know what people say in the comments.
Oh, and here’s that video from Earthling ed I promised: