I must say that I am glad to be done reading this book! In other words, this book was a horror-read and the author’s compelling questions coupled with emotion made it difficult for me to keep going. I never induce a lot of emotion into reading or watching movies because I feel it is just one perspective, but this one does not let me escape without guilt. The author, I give in, is extremely smart to end the book with “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”
This makes it impossible for me to just think of the book as a good read. “No reader of this book would tolerate someone swinging a pickax at a dog’s face” (31). This line really touched me for two reasons. One, this gave the book a personalized touch in the sense that the author assumes certain factors, unlike most academic books these days and other reason being that I quickly understood what the author was getting at and why we should care! It was a good start-up to make us understand why we kill fish in such atrocious ways. Now thinking about it, the logic seems really simple. We would obviously find it hard to kill someone who we know and associate with. Our meat eating habits are driven by the fact that we don’t know what the meat undergoes before it gets to our plate. I also agree with the author that we need to change our nostalgic images of farming and come to terms with reality. This is in fact, the first step towards understanding our meat. I remember an incident that once occurred to me while reading this book. We had gone to a restaurant where I ordered baby chicken curry (the special delicacy on the menu). The dish literally had a baby chick which was cooked in gravy on the plate! In other words, it was uncut, so I realized probably for the first time in my life, that chicken is really a living creature. Whenever I eat chicken, I realized I do not look at it as a creature, but simple as pieces of food that I eat – because chicken is never necessarily served as an entire whole. I just could not eat the chick on that day! Another thing that freaked me out is that we have modified the genetics of animals to an unimaginable extent. We control their day, we control their night, we control their ability to reproduce, to just name a few! Thinking from the viewpoint of an animal, we are their gods! I cannot digest the fact that we have brought down the lifetime of chickens from an average of 15 years to 6 months! Even, eggs for that matter, we have made chickens lay eggs at a rate which is thrice their natural capacity. Henry Ford’s idea of making one person do one thing in an assembly line for a long time is highly criticized now. Think about what animals must be going through! I would in fact, prefer not to think nor imagine any of this!
“If I misuse a corporation’s logo, I could potentially be put in jail; if a corporation abuses a billion birds, the law will protect not the birds, but the corporation’s right to do what it wants” (93). Another authoritative line in the book. It talks about a lot of paradoxes that we face in out every day life. The most important one that I can think of is: A terrorist kills four hundred people in a bomb blast, but when it comes to prosecuting him, international human rights organizations claim about protecting his rights as a “human.” The sad part about reading this book is that it will be very tough in real life to make a difference. The author talks about collective will which has been emerging around the world on treatment of animals. I believe that the best place to start would be right here in this class. From today onwards. We don’t have to sacrifice our lunch and dinner, but spread the awareness and let people know what is really on their plate. This is enough to make a difference. I must also say that the author’s research and guts to write this book is very commendable. Especially, when he visits a strangers farm with “C” to get a feel of a factory farm – considering there were bull guards there! Also, the letter that the author wrote to factory farms requesting an appointment and opportunity to visit their farms was interesting. I especially appreciate his patience in writing multiple letters and being able to turn his disappointment of not receiving replies into a book that is sure to make a difference in the lives of its readers.
PETA was an interesting part of this book. Almost in a way like the environmental extremists such as the Earth Liberation Front that we read about earlier. While talking to a friend, he claimed that PETA was better described as People Eating Tasty Animal! Wikipedia claims that they are under the FBI scanner for being agents of domestic violence and their euthanizing strategy has been criticized widely. However, the author seems to give me an impression that they have made a difference. It would be interesting to discuss their role in the animal rights movement in detail in class.
The million dollar question is will I stop eating meat? Probably not, but at this point something does not feel right. I have never felt guilt when I eat meat and the most important issue that is raised in the book is that we don’t feel guilty because we don’t know where and how it comes to our plate. I am still thinking. It will be interesting to see my final decision.