“If nothing matters, there is nothing to save.”

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals successfully reached me, in part because I felt as though I was able to relate to him.  In the beginning, he describes coming home from college, surprising his folks about his dietary choices, like being a vegetarian, then the next year maybe not; then deciding to be a philosophy major and realizing if he is going to present himself as a thinker he must have thought about what he consumes, including meat.  I have been a born-again vegetarian many times, only with the knowledge that eating meat is of course, or was, a living thing (I didn’t want anything living creature to die because of me) and that in eating them, one is also consuming the adrenaline and fear then released (and felt) before being slaughtered–this had a profound effect on me.  After reading Eating Animals, which is loaded with terrifying information and nightmare-like statistics, there was just too much that I could not deny or ignore…so it’s back to tofu for me!

Topics of discussion:

  • “3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized annually” that equals millions of lbs of meat thrown away.  Why cannot we send them, frozen, or preserved somehow to developing countries?  To people in our own country?  People are starving, and we waste potentially valuable resources.  Eating cats and dogs would not be wrong, esp. when people are dying of hunger, and they were eaten on most parts of the world at some point in history.
  • “If we were to one day encounter a form of life more powerful and intelligent than our own, and it regarded us as we regarded fish, what would be our argument against being eaten?”  This really makes you think.  I believe they probably wouldn’t understand our way of life at all, nor our language, so they wouldn’t think about it too much and just eat us.  Perhaps we could win the superior life forms over by playing music, dancing and singing, or by giving them beer.
  • The meat industry is a $140 billion + corporation that occupies 1/3 of the planet’s land.
  • The current War on Animals= Factory farming; 450 billion land animals are factory farmed annually= 99% of all meat and animal products.
  • Technologies of war have been systematically applied to fishing.  e.g. radar detectors.
  • Shame: “when we want to disavow a part of our nature, we call it our ‘animal nature'”
  • FISH: 20/35 seahorse species are threatened by extinction from unintentional (careless) killing in the production (catching) of seafood.  Shrimp fishing devastates the seahorse population the most (as a result I am refraining from seafood as well because of this section).  How can we allow for the extinction of seahorses?  How can we not feel guilt for killing life-long monogamous partnerships courted only beneath full moons whilst making musical whistle-like sounds?  All for the luxury of having canned-tuna, I cannot have this on my shoulders.  They also swim in pairs!
  • FISH: are also intelligent animals, they build complex nests, are monogamous, use tools, and have long standing “cultural traditions” for particular pathways to feeding, schooling, nesting, and mating.  Should we really be exploiting and eating such smart creatures?
  • FISH: Longlines are used to catch the desired species, but many species don’t receive the memo on time, resulting in 145 other species being caught and killed.  The by-catch includes “4.5 million sea animals, including 3.3 million sharks, 1 million marlins, 60,000 sea turtles, 75,000 albatross, and 20,000 dolphins and whales.” “Virtually all die.”
  • Two, and only two types of chickens produced: broilers for eating and layers for eggs.  Since only the females can be layers of eggs, 250 million males are destroyed PER YEAR.
  • Corporations define cruelty (the basis of their business), esp. terrible: CAFO and CFE
  • The Farm Sanctuary: the most important animal protection, education, and lobbying organizations in America.  They save downed animals, who are very close to having good health, the animals just need a little care, water, and food.
  • Food choices are just crucial to the environment as transportation choices.
  • PIGS: are intelligent creatures, smart enough to march together to help each other get some loving, they can undo latches to release themselves or others, they can play video games just as fast as chimpanzees.
  • CHICKENS: their brains are lateralized, they pass information through generations, are capable of deceit, and they can delay satisfaction for larger rewards (something humans have a hard time with).
  • KFC: disturbingly gross.  The members of KFC’s “animal welfare council” are also members of Pilgrim’s Pride, a corporation operating as “the supplier of the year” where workers sadistically abuse animals.
  • Kosher:  excellent.
  • Species barrier: the baby panda Knut, a food stand erected nearby the hullabaloo sold “worst de Knut” composed of factory farmed pig flesh.
  • Spanish Flu: Occurred in 1918, somewhere between 50-100 million people died within 24 weeks, the healthy included, esp. those ranging from 25-29.  Some 20,000 were killed in one week.  Pandemics occur about every 27.5 years, we are way overdue because the last one occurred over 40 years ago.  Factory farms are going to be the place where the disease mutates so that it can spread from human to human, this is a huge risk to the lives of million who will die.
  • Zoonotic diseases:  Factory farms hold 50 billion birds per year and feed them 24.6 million lbs of antibiotics for non-theraputic reasons.  The cost for increased efficiency = global risk of deadly diseases.  Are we really going to just stand by and watch?  As college students, aren’t we the educated who not only pass on information but set an example for what intelligent thinkers should take part in?
  • FECES: farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times more manure than the human population.  “This is roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second! “Pig farms produce 7.2 million pounds of manure annually, a typical broiler facility will produce 6.6 million pounds, and a typical feedlot will produce 344 million pounds” of POOP! All of this poop contributes to the pollution of over 35,000 miles of waterways.  People die when they fall into the lagoons of poo.  This is not natural to have so much poop in one place.
  • “What positions would I insist are basic to moral decency?”
  • “The UN special envoy on food called it a ‘crime against humanity’ to funnel 100 million tons of grain and corn to ethanol while almost a billion people are starving.  So what kind of crime is animal agriculture, which uses 756 million tons of grain and corn per year , much more than enough to adequately feed the 1.4 billion humans who are living in dire poverty?”
  • Slaughter: another reason we as humanity should not eat meat: “I’ve seen thousands and thousands of cows go through the slaughter process alive.”  This is wrong.  What should we do?  Just start by boycotting factory farmed animal products. “If we put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?
  • Conclusion: “The factory farm model has estranged them not only from how they labor (hack, chop, saw, stick, lop, cut), but what they produce (disgusting, unhealthy food) and how the product is sold (anonymously and cheaply).  Human beings cannot be human (much less humane) under the conditions of the factory farm or slaughterhouse.”
  • “The least we can do is stop sending checks to the absolute worst abusers.”  Stop supporting them, don’t vote “for” them by buying their products.
  • Yes, being a vegetarian may inconvenience you at times but “choose conscience over ease” because “this decision will help prevent deforestation, curb global warming, reduce pollution, save oil reserves, lessen the burden on rural America, decrease human rights abuses, improve public health, and help eliminate the most systematic animal abuse in world history.”
  • TRY being a vegetarian!

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