Salt’s Cure – West Hollywood, CA

“Veganish”, I suppose.

I’ve been telling Cindy for weeks now that I’ve been craving a hamburger. Her advice? Listen to your body and have one. So I did.

Before you start calling me a hypocrite hear me out please. I became vegan about seven months ago (cold turkey) for a number of reasons, and I consider the convictions I have about meat and animal products to be well supported. I genuinely believe that being vegan is better for my health, the environment and obviously, the animals. But honestly, you’d have a hard time convincing me that a hamburger once every six months is being hypocritical, or not sticking to my convictions, but more on that shortly.

Before I go into the actual meal, here are my three primary reasons for being vegan, in no particular order.

  1. I think it’s better for your health, no question about it. I feel better, and it’s hard to argue with that. I’ve also yet to hear from someone who doesn’t feel better after trying it. Evidence enough for me.
  2. The environmental catastrophe that is our industrialized meat system genuinely upsets me. If this was the only reason, it would be reason enough for me never to eat meat. I honestly think that at this rate my children are going to be screwed as far as clean water and overall pollution are concerned. That is, unless we change something, and being vegan is me trying to do my part.
  3. The animals we eat within the industrialized meat system live in their own feces or in confined spaces small enough that they can’t even move. They live a completely tortured life, and then are sick to point of near death before they are slaughtered. We eat sick animals and wonder why we are so sick ourselves. Am I wearing a leather belt though? Yes. But I don’t own many animal products, and again, am just trying to do my part as best I can.

When I thought about my impending meal I obviously needed to reconcile these beliefs, so I began to do some research.

After a fair amount of online digging and several phone “interviews” with restaurant owners, I ended up going to a restaurant called Salt’s Cure in West Hollywood with some buddies on Friday night. Before I went I had a lengthy conversation with the owner, who was open and honest about everything from the farms they got their meat, to the types of food the animals are fed. Their meat is humanely raised, organic and the beef is 100% grass-fed and grass-finished (Interesting note:  Some restaurants claim grass-fed beef, when their cows are actually corn-finished. What this means is that the cows are grass-fed and then fattened with corn at the end of their life. Stuffing a cow with corn over the last six months or year of their life defeats the purpose of grass feeding them prior to that, in my opinion. So make sure, if you care, that it’s grass-fed and grass-finished. Just something I learned.)  Every product in their restaurant is from California, and all the farms they get their meat from are considered local. Outside of actually visiting the farms I confirmed everything the owner said about the farming practices used on the animals.

For me, finding this type of meat puts at ease the second and third concerns I raised above. Sound farming practices typically do not harm the environment, and if done properly, have actually been found to enhance the quality of the land and soil (Polyface Farms in Virginia is famous for this). Also, the animals are raised properly and allowed to do things nature intended them to do, like roam a prairie and graze for grass. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid the whole “killing process” if you want to eat meat, but there are slaughter houses that do it as humanely as possible.

Long story short, I had a hamburger and it was great. By no stretch of the imagination did it blow my mind away, but it was good, and my friends and I had a great evening catching up after a long week. I felt fine after the meal and showed no ill-effects the next morning.

My honest opinion from a health perspective is again, that the less meat in my diet the better. But I’d be lying if I told you I believed that a burger ever six months was harmful to my health, or yours. In the event that I do decide to have some meat, however, I will certainly do it properly, and I urge you to try to do so as well. I honestly don’t expect to eat meat again anytime soon, but will I have it again in my life? Probably.

Even after this long-winded story some will still argue that I’m a hypocrite, but I’d consider myself more human than hypocrite. Life is hard. We have cravings. I had a craving and satisfied it. But I did so in a manner that aligned the beliefs I have about my connection with the food I eat, and its impact on my body and the world around me. Being healthy is hard, but I give a genuine effort every day to be as healthy as I can, for me, the environment and the animals. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my food, because I do, and that doesn’t mean I’m a vegetable-eating robot, because I’m not. I’m human just like everyone else, and if having a hamburger a couple times a year makes me a hypocrite, I’m ok with that.