The book here deals with the issues, ethical and environmental, of eating animals as they are produced today. It delves into the issues of the factory farm and cheap meat, and looks at the costs of producing meat in this manner, be it health, environmental impact, animal cruelty and likewise. It was, in my opinion, a good read and an interesting insight into the world of processing food.
The book states that what we eat, individually, is based on what is considered acceptable in the society around us. What he’s referring to here is, of course, the proliferation of factory farms and the squalid conditions that the animals live in before being sent to the slaughter. This arises from the justifications of eating habits, but we can also consider this from other viewpoints: consider, in typical American society, that no one would consider eating things such as dogs or snails. We wouldn’t eat the former due to a strong association as a pet and a companion animal developed over a long time, and we wouldn’t eat the latter under the idea that it is a disgusting mollusk, but in parts of the world they are considered an adequate food source and even a delicacy. In Asia, it’s estimated that 13 to 16 million dogs are killed and consumed every year, not quite the level of other mainstream stock animals, but still a significant number.
What the author is trying to get at here is that, even if we consider factory farmed meats unacceptable, we continue to eat them because others do, partially due to a lack of interest in where food comes from.
The discussion of the other effects of factory farming goes deep too. The close quarters and lack of space coupled with the produced feces and lack of hygiene levels creates a suitable breeding ground for bacteria and diseases. The overuse of antibiotics also builds up immunity to the drugs, creating more problems in an attempt to gain efficiency of production.
What I did have a slight difficulty believing too, was the “21,000 animals per lifetime” statistic. Given a 75 year life span, this would mean an average person eats about 0.75 animals a day, and unless they’re all chickens and that person eats meat every meal this doesn’t seem likely given three meals. Definitely not when including cows or pigs, but this may be pure assumption on my part.
I did enjoy the stories of him and his grandmother, which brought some interesting bits of amusement to the book, while providing a little insight into his corner of food and society. Overall, I probably won’t be eating more vegetables (although I do have them as a significantly large portion already), but I do consider the ramifications of eating meat, and do tend to avoid it here and there. My main focus, then, is not on vegetarianism or veganism for moral or ethical or personal concerns, but out of environmental and cost issues, meaning I have no trouble eating a “non vegan” product given that most of it is produced from vegetables.