Animal as food

If you’ve read Jonathan Safran Foer’s, Eating Animals, you might think that the last think I’d go for for dinner is sirloin over corn cakes. I hate to disappoint you but, you’d be wrong.

I understood factory farming was bad in a vague, general way. Now, just 18% in on my Kindle, I feel that I  have more insight as to why. Did you know that “free range” just means that the animals have to have outdoor access, which can literally be an open window in an overcrowded barn? Or that the average poultry chicken has 67 square inches of space? And that when “layer” chickens (the kind we get eggs from) breed and give birth to male offspring, they kill them? The book is eye opening but so far I haven’t gotten to the point where he’s said what we can do about, besides becoming vegetarian, or I guess considering the conditions, vegan.

Just to open up doors of communication (as I said, I have no intention of giving up meat), what do we think of this? Animals do suffer, they are kept in horrible conditions, and contribute significantly (I have to look up the stats but in the US I believe he said that it’s more than all of our kinds of transportation but together) to global warming. At the same time, man has been eating animals since the beginning of time. In some sense, it’s the natural order of things. I have a lot of questions running through my head while I eat my chicken tonight. Two small pieces with a whole bowl full of quinoa and pasta and veggies, better right?

If we don’t eat any animals, do they overrun the world? How expensive would meat be without factory farming? How much spinach do you have to eat to get enough iron to avoid anemia without red meat? Is it enough to switch to Kosher meat knowing that conditions are less deplorable? To give up shrimp because for every pound of usable shrimp they harvest, 6 pounds of other marine life is destroyed? To stop eating tuna because of the bycatch? Can we ever go back from this animals for profit method of raising our food?

It’d be lovely to go back to a time where a farm was a place where an individual farmer, in overalls and a straw hat, came out and took care of his cows each day. Knew their names, raised them in the best way he knew how, and killed them as humanely as possible, potentially holding its little hoof. A time where our fish came from a fisherman who spent his days out with a rod, or even an individual net, bringing in his haul to support his family. When did the food we eat become so detached from its source? And what can we do about it?

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2 responses to “Animal as food

  1. Hi Dana – your vegan uncle here. Yes I read this book and found it very informative and moving. I think it would be a huge step forward if people just ate fewer animal products, and were aware of the impact on the environment, on animals, and on the human body, of the ones they did eat. I think it’s great you’re reading this book.

    If you’re interested in looking at the impact of the modern American diet on the human body, there was a documentary that came out this year called “Forks over knives” which was very good. It’s now out on dvd.

    Steve

    • I’ll look into that! I just bought the Omnivores Dilemma on my Kindle. I didn’t intend to make a radical change and become wholly vegetarian but, I haven’t eaten meat since Monday and I keep thinking “oh, I’ll get a reuben on Wednesday because that’s what we do” or “oh I’ll have meat at the bbq Saturday”, but right now I’m looking up black bean burger recipes. So far, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice but I think it’s really interesting that beef is actually the more ethically treated meat! I think you CAN eat meat if you look for it and spend the money, but right now, I just can’t wrap my head around it. I’m sure I will still eat it but I’m also sure it will be much less often. Thanks for the advice!

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