October 31, 2010

Eating Animals

I kind of have a hard time eating guys like this.

As you may have noticed to the left, I'm reading a book called Eating Animals. Eating Animals is a book I've wanted to read for a long time now for it's frank journalistic look at what eating animals means for us, for animals, and for the planet. The author has had a on-again off-again relationship with eating meat, often being a vegetarian who had bacon on Sundays and on burgers. The book is not, so far at least, an evangelical vegetarian piece. It proposes an honest look at our meat industries, doing research too involved to do on a smaller scale and too unbiased for Peta or other animal welfare groups. The author, Jonathan Safran Foer, is someone who really likes the idea of vegetarianism but also really likes how meat tastes. When his first son was born he realized that he would have to make decisions about food for him, and he decided he couldn't do that without knowing what that meant.

The first few chapters talked almost exclusively about tuna. I read those chapters while eating a tuna melt. The second time I sat down to read I was eating a banana with peanut butter. The third time I ate black bean and corn tacos. I feel I'm going to find it more difficult to eat meat as I read this book, an issue Safran Foer discusses. He points out that the automatic assumption we make when reading about meat, even when we see the title Eating Animals, is that it must be against the meat industry for its inhumane practices, and if that's the automatic assumption made by the majority of the people, what does that tell us? It tells us that we already know the meat industry is wrong, that even if eating meat isn't wrong in itself, that how we treat and kill the animals we do eat is wrong.

One of the reasons I like Safran Foer (so far) is his inquisitive manner and understanding way of writing. He likes meat. It tastes good. He gets that. He just also gets the importance of not supporting the way we obtain our meat. To him, supporting something he believes in is worth ignoring his cravings. He's not out there to convert you- just to provide any reader with the information they need to make a decision 3 times a day. If you make the decision to eat meat, fine. But here are the facts anyway.

Peta, take note. The whole "chickens are people, too" campaign doesn't work. Mostly because chickens aren't people.

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