In Response to Eating Animals

This week’s reading, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, was an interesting read to say the least.  The book contained a condensed plethora of ideas; with some I absolutely agreed , some I never considered, and some I disagreed.  Overall, Foer offered many interestingly valid points and observations relating to eating meat and delivered them in a very original, captivating approach; combing pure muckraking journalism with subtle hilarity in a very eloquent, yet informal writing style.

Although it is hard to deny that at times the book got preachy  and maybe even a little over the top, it is just as equally hard to argue that Foer had no logical ground to base his vegetarian argument.  The book was exhaustively backed up by hard evidence, stories and statistics (which he claims to have selected the most conservative of.)  The amount of factual foundation he gave his arguments helped effectively convey the severity and span of the troubled human-animal interaction complex.  I very much admire how he focused less on the burden of guilt humans largely deny when eating meat (on the level of harming other living creatures), and more on the issue of how technology and aggressive business tactics (i.e. free market capitalism) have condensed animal husbandry to an industrial level of operation and production.  Foer identifies factory farms as the most logical and undeniable reason to abstain from meat (at least that which is produced industrially); and it is something I absolutely agree with.

A central message I gathered from the reading was that our culturally constructed, psychologically selective decoupling of ourselves from animals is a main aspect of modern environmental problems.  These problems include, but not limited to, uninhibited business growth, pollution, disease, and unsustainable land use.  I found it especially fascinating how the operation of factory farms has been so well hidden from public attention.  The problem of disposing of farm animal fecal waste alone poses many serious, far reaching environmental issue.  Yet this factory farms remain unchecked and growing.

One issue Foer addressed that I found especially particularly was the social value of food and especially in the context of a shared meal.  I very much respect how he put this aspect of food consumption above the no-harm based morality of eating meat.  It is an aspect of his personality/opinions in this book that really separates him from a radical “eco-fascist” stance.  Understanding the necessity and benefit of human interaction in the context of a meal is crucial in respecting food and its sources.  Considering food on this level is the first step, in my opinion, to the sustainable and healthy consumption of meat, and all other food for that matter.  If we respect the true value of food, which we as Americans have become so oblivious to, then we can maybe begin to respect that which we eat.

Question’s:

  • Is PETA justified in the use of sometimes “vaudevillian” methods of protest? Or are they tarnishing the movement to reform the meat industry? Why?
  • Do you think a piece of meat would be more enjoyable if you raised, slaughtered, butchered and cooked the cow/pig/chicken yourself?  Why?
  • Has your stance towards eating meat changed at all after reading Eating Animals?

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