In my late teens and early 20s, I didn't eat much meat. Most meat that I could buy was fairly flavorless, and eggs and cheese didn't taste very good. I was something like a vegetarian - but not for any philosophical reasons; the meat I could buy just didn't taste very good. It is still that way: I can barely bring myself to buy meat in a supermarket - it just looks so terribly unappetizing.
While working in Europe I discovered that things like dairy (cheese, milk, cream), eggs, pork can taste great. I got used to the fact that in Germany, I could go to a typical store and buy normal (not premium) cheese, meat, etc. and really enjoy it. I ate more meat and cheese as a result.
In general, America doesn't have meat or cheese as good as in Europe. The fundamental problem is that the American consumer demands a cheap, low-quality food product. American producers give it to them.
One consequence of this is that until American producers start producing better products, "buy local" will mean "buying inferior." E.g. if you as a chef insist on using "locally sourced" cured products, they will necessarily be inferior to imported Iberian products - because right now, no American producers produce to those standards.
I think the relative low quality of American meat and cheese partially explains why so many Americans can manage to eschew meat and dairy.
Killing animals and enjoying their meat makes it hard to dismiss all meat eating as evil, if only because people get used to watching animals slaughtered - at which people focus on having a good time with family and friends. If the animals taste particularly good, people associate the killing with having a really great time with family and friends.
Here's a video of a traditional pig killing in Slovakia - called a zabíjačka. Those guys kill a really fat Mangalitsa. Fairly soon after, it is looking like meat.
If you have never seen a pig get slaughtered it probably bothers you to see that pig die. They kill that perfectly healthy pig in cold blood - so that they can eat it. And the fact that the guy pumps the leg (to work the blood out of the animal) seems bad - why doesn't he just leave the thing alone?
If you are from a culture where people kill pigs at home and eat them, or if you know what Mangalitsa fat tastes like, you are probably salivating. I see that and think (on the bright side):
- It is great that people are helping to preserve the Mangalitsa breed, which necessarily means eating them. People will only raise large animals for meat, so eat them now or they'll be gone in a few years.
- It sure is nice that they killed the pig without stressing it. And it is good they pumped the leg to get the blood out - otherwise they'd have inferior pork. If you are going to kill a pig, please do it correctly and make the most of it.
- Assuming they fattened it properly, that Mangalitsa will make great cured products. If not, they just wasted that Mangalitsa's life.
I've seen people get visibly discomforted by the question. You can practically see them getting nervous and thinking, "eating meat is bad, but if it is produced through human artifice, is it meat? I want to say it is wrong, but what is the reason?"
Many of them feel OK eating highly processed imitation meat products designed to imitate meat, yet don't want to eat the perfect imitation. Such people are just irrationally anti-meat-eating; even if we had perfect imitation meat, they'd find a way to eat their relatively flavorless soy hot dogs instead.
I would love it if we could get the delicious pork of a Mangalitsa without needing to raise pigs - raising pigs is dangerous and inefficient. I'd be happy if we could produce perfect imitation meat, even though it would have some unintended consequences.
Someone who grows up eating meat and cheese in Europe is unlikely to conclude that eating that stuff is immoral. When I read this remark from this Croatian arguing that illegal killing animals in the traditional fashion is wrong, the exasperation at not being taken seriously really hits me:
We are aware of the fact that we live in a country where torture and brutal slaughter during "back-yard pig slaughter holidays," so-called "kolinje" in Croatia, is still an occasion for national joy and music, but we are unpleasantly surprised with the way the veterinary inspection ignores the manure, excrement, humidity, low temperatures, lack of light and lack of any kind of sociality for the pig, whose treatment is considered acceptable as long as the pig is vaccinated and marked on the ear, in other words, good for the slaughter and human consumption.I try to imagine the kind of resistance that anti-meat person encounters in Croatia. It probably isn't as polite as Snakeman, one of our regular customers, who replies to a vegan:
"I choose to abstain from veganism. After you have tried jowl bacon from a free range, healthy and ornery Berkshire hog there is no going back! I say if it has a face, eat the face first and start with the cheeks!"It sounds so bloodthirsty. But looking at is dispassionately, Snakeman's advice is correct. After an animal is dead, it is meat. Once it is a piece of meat, we naturally want to make sure we get the parts we really like. Snakeman and I favor the jowls, but others like the tenderloins.
 I explain why it doesn't taste as good (from a meat science perspective) here. From a business perspective, American meat processors don't think it makes good business sense to produce world-class products, even though it wouldn't require a return to traditional agriculture.
E.g. Handl Tyrol's products are made from factory-raised pigs shipped to Austria from the Netherlands, because they can't raise enough pigs in Austria to supply them. But those factory pigs eat better stuff than in America, so they taste a lot better. E.g. in America, folks feed the pigs soy and DDGS, which ruin the pig's fat, making it unsuitable for curing. Most people who cure meat in America (often using some sort of "Italian" techniques) don't understand this, despite people in Italy having standardized what pork is acceptable for curing. Try to talk to an American "artisinal" processor about fat composition - it will open your eyes.
Here's something I wrote about my wife and I doing a side-by-side comparison of some Mangalitsa salami with product from one of America's most respected "artisanal" processors. I later found out that the Mangalitsa salami I had was probably from a 3/4 hybrid fed on corn and wheat - by no means the best Mangalitsa (genetics or feed) you could use. Nevertheless, the results were far, far superior to some of America's best.
If American consumers demanded good meat, they'd get it at reasonable prices, as in Europe. Although most American producers don't know much about producing good meat, cheese, etc. it wouldn't take them a long time to acquire the skills if the market demanded it.
 Perfect vat-grown meat is probably the only thing that will get rid of animal exploitation. One complication, should we ever achieve this, is that we'll stop keeping farm animals. We'll lose our meat breeds, the same way we've lost the draft horse breeds.