Eating Animals Notes

– Lonnie Barnes

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was both well-written and thought provoking. It made me question some of the things that I, and I think many other people, take for granted.

It’s worrying to think that so many of us (myself included) can just pick up a package of meat at the store without giving a second of thought to where it might have come from, or how the animal was treated when it was alive. When we talk about the effects we are having on the environment, they are not all necessarily related to climate change, though that is currently the main focus: “More than any set of practices, factory farming is a mind-set: reduce production costs to the absolute minimum and systematically ignore or ‘externalize’ such costs as environmental degradation, human disease, and animal suffering” (34).

Another part that I found interesting–but also uncomfortable–was the section about why we don’t eat dogs in the United States. I knew eating dogs was practiced in other places, though I was unaware that it happened in so many. I had also never really thought about why we don’t eat dogs, about why we differentiate between them and other animals that we do eat. I guess there isn’t really a logical reason–it’s just a norm. One thing I didn’t really agree with in this section was the idea that if we did start eating dogs, the market would be “self-regulated” in the sense that we wouldn’t by the meat of dogs that had been poorly treated or inhumanely killed. This doesn’t happen with other animals:

“An investigation at one Tyson facility found that some workers regularly ripped off the heads of fully conscious birdsurinated in the live-hang area, and let shoddy automated slaughter equipment that cut the birds’ bodies rather than their necks go unreapired indefinitely. At…Pilgrim’s Pride, fully conscious chickens were kicked, stomped on, slammed into walls, had chewing tobacco spit in their eyes, literally had the shit squeezed out of them, and had their beaks ripped off. Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride [are] the two largest chicken processors in the nation, killing nearly five billion birds per year between them.”

Maybe we would still value decent treatment of dogs more than other animals even if we started eating them, but I doubt it.

The most important question asked in this book is on pg. 31: “If we were to one day encounter a form of life more powerful and intelligent than our own, and it regarded us as we regard fish, what would be our arguments against being eaten? The lives of billions of animals a year and the health of the largest ecosystems on our planet hang on the thinly reasoned answers we give to these questions.”



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