I was craving French fries when I left the house, so I called in an order at the local drive-thru when they opened.
Best lunch ever.
And yet I saw something disturbing me when I picked up my order.
When I was a kid I LOVED burgers from Rusty's (in my town) and Dusty's (in the neighboring big city). To give you a clue of just how much I loved my local joint, you should know that the last meat I ever ate when I stopped eating it back in 1986 was a Rusty Burger. Yep. When I made the decision to go vegetarian, that's the meat I wanted to go out on.
And it's tough dropping meat from your diet, let me tell you.
For years after I axed meat I would still crave it. I remember driving by Burger King where they blow the smell of flame-broiled beef out into the street and get triggered. Holy crap did I want a Whopper right then. Giving up bacon was also incredibly difficult. Any time I saw a piece, something deep inside me was suddenly willing to kill for it. Pepperoni was the worst though. Going from having an intimate relationship with pepperoni pizza... then downgrading to a cheese pizza... is what nearly broke me. It still might break me one day. Because while there are some pretty great burger and bacon substitutes, I've yet to find a truly great pepperoni substitute.
But I endure.
Partly because the allergies which plagued me as a kid vanished practically overnight when I stopped eating meat. Partly because the meat industry is literally killing our planet. But mostly because I am horrified by the inhumane, cruel, and disgusting conditions under which mass-produced meat is raised. In all honesty, I simply cannot understand how anybody could become aware of the abhorrent treatment of cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, and other animals before they're slaughtered and still eat the stuff. Which is why most people close their eyes to it, I'm sure.
Meanwhile, back at the drive-ins that are in my neck of the woods, Dusty's eventually added a GardenBurger. I was ecstatic at the time, but came to realize that I prefer a Grilled Cheese with Goop (burger sauce and fixin's), so it goes mostly ignored.
Rusty's, on the other hand, always held out. No vegetarian option for you. Fortunately, they have really good fries.
Then today, miracle of miracles, I saw that they are finally adding a GardenBurger to their menu. I was instantly elated because I'm sure it will be fantastic. Until I saw the price... NINE DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS?!?? Holy crap! AND THAT'S WITHOUT CHEESE!!! Keep in mind that this is not an "Impossible Burger" which is an expensive meat substitute (but worth it)... it's a frickin' GARDENBURGER! For contrast, a QUADRUPLE MEAT, QUADRUPLE CHEESE meat burger WITH BACON is just $8.75!
WHAT THE HELL?!?
Either Rusty's is jacking up the price to an insane degree because they don't want to sell many of them and only have it available because people ask for it all the time...
...government subsidies to the "Big Meat" industry are so massive that FOUR piece of meat are considerably cheaper than ONE GardenBurger. If that's the case, this is bordering on criminal. Let's check Google here... and... yep. THIRTY-EIGHT BILLION A YEAR props up the meat and dairy industry. This is despite the fact that the meat industry is literally destroying the planet. It's also widely regarded as unhealthy and should only be eaten in moderation. And yet, here we are. I guess Big Pharma is working with Big Beef to push cheap meat so they can sell more pills (eating beef daily makes you TRIPLE more likely to get heart disease). And we (and, more directly, the children) are paying the massive cost with our health and our world.
But that's our government for you. Killing us for the profit they make from being bought off by industries that don't give a shit about us.
I suppose I should be used to it, but the fact that US citizens continue to sign off on this kind of crap never ceases to amaze me. "YES! KILL US SO YOU CAN GET RICH! DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT TO LINE YOUR POCKETS! BETRAY THE PUBLIC TRUST AT EVERY TURN FOR MONEY! WE SUPPORT YOU!"
Eventually, I'm guessing that I'll cough up the NINE DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS that this thing costs just to satisfy my curiosity. I hope it's horrible. I don't have that kind of money to be throwing at a burger. And apparently the government is doing it for me already anyway.