Eating Animals Notes (Pessell)

October 5, 2016

Anytime I see a book with a title akin to something like Eating Animals, I get nervous. Nervous because I presume that this is going to one of those fear type of books, similar to those food documentaries like Super Size Me or Food Inc. We’ve all seen books or documentaries like that. The type of documentaries try to scare or guilt you into changing your habits. Are these documentaries and books mmotivational through their use of fear? Yes. Do they make constructive arguments? Sometimes. They can give many interesting, gruesome facts, but I tend to see the main argument as pointed finger telling us how cruel and terrible we are. I don’t know, maybe I’m just pessimistic about pessimistic media.

Luckily for me, this book made it clear through the introduction and first few chapters that this was not going to be that type of book. Jonathan Safran Foer begins with a story about his grandmother and how her struggles fit in with her ideas about eating in the present. Instead of going right away into how our food industries are a moral, environmental disaster and instead shows how our own history impacts how food is used now a days. World hunger has always been a big deal in our culture. In the past, most families lived on small amounts of food, food that was often low in quality. So those blue-collar farmers, workers and those in positions of power (and didn’t abuse it) saw these problems and wanted to keep their children and their children’s children never have to worry about where their next meal would come from. So changes in the way food is produced changed to reflect that. We found more efficient ways to create large amounts of food as well as efficient ways to ship and sell it. This history is why Jonathan’s grandmother constantly weighed him, to make sure he was getting enough food. With the advent of efficient farming methods, all we want are larger portions since we know it can be created. We want to follow food trends, we want interesting, exotic food combinations along with the food we’re used to. Our quest for greater food production has also made our way of getting it morally controversial. Jonathan has thought this way too which accounts for the many times he has justified a life style of veganism and meat-eating.

Yes, I completely agree that the methods of animal agriculture has many, many problems. Large, industrial animal farms are terrible and hearing about it makes me sick and we need to change this immediately. We feed our animals antibiotics and other drugs that make them sick just so that, by the end of their short, miserable life, the meat will be healthy for humans (at least that’s the goal). We are also very wasteful with the food we do eat. However, I am still not a proponent of veganism for I believe that meat is essential for a healthy and balanced life style. We are omnivores, we eat both meat and plants. Our bodies went through evolution for that opportunity. It’s useful for muscle growth. While there are ways that we can gain protein through vegan meals, it would never fully compensate for the protien, iron, and other benefits meats can give. What I do believe in is that for the health of our planet and the sake of the intelligent animals we eat, that they be raised with respect and not in such bulky numbers. While I believe we need meat to be healthy, we don’t need a lot of food. If food portions in countries like the U.S. decrease, then there is plenty of food for everyone if it’s portioned out correctly. These changes are unlikely to happen, especially to those whose greed out ways their own morals.

Environmental News

The news that I found this week was an article written by an advocate of the food and agriculture program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The article is about comapnies that have or have promised to use less or no antibiotics on chickens. This step forwards in livestock harvesting was promoted through conciese buyers of antibiotic fed chicken. Now their is a call for turkey, pork, and beef producers to do the same.


Eating Animals

October 5, 2016
  • In this book the narrator takes us on a dietary journey and lays out the timeline of his thoughts and reasoning’s behind supporting a vegetarian life style. He discusses the meat industries and the horrors behind it as well as slaughter houses and humans self interested reasons for eating meat. This book I found very interesting, yet conflicting. I have been on both sides of the meat/non-meat eating spectrum and have evaluated my stance on eating very firmly. After being a vegetarian for 8 years I decided that meat was the way to go. There were 3 things that I thought about when going through this process.
  • The first was, social reasons for eating meat
    • Wrong, apart of pop culture, inhumane
    • In high school I became a vegetarian more times than I can now remember, most often as an effort to claim some identity in a world of people whose identities seemed to come effortlessly
  • The second was how far in terms of eating meat
    • ways they are killed
    • what animals would you eat versus not eat
      • where is the line drawn
  • Lastly is eating meat an important part of the human diet
  • Job loss-expensive
    • “for every $1 billion in beef exports [from America] 12,700 jobs are created; for every $1 billion in pork exports [from America] 13,333 jobs are created; and for every $1 billion in exports [from America] 11,853 jobs are created” (Free Trade Agreements).
    • Over 15% of the work force in meat industry (roughly 21 million)

Project update 10/4: Brad Brodek

October 4, 2016

I went and talk to a worker at the library who is trying to find me a layout of the amount of computers and printers in it. Since they didn’t have one on hand I went around and counted all the PUBLIC computers and printers in the library. There are:

Basement = 3 computers, 1 printer

1st floor = 32 computers and 3 printers

2nd floor = 2 computers

3rd floor = 5 computers


now what I need to figure out is how many “smart strip outlets” I will need and if it is worth it to put one in an area that only has 1 computer by it.

Environmental News 10/4: Brad Brodek

October 4, 2016

Since we were on the topic of eating animals I picked this article which is about chicken farms and how “free range” poultry and eggs are “not all they’re cracked up to be.”  The government allows these farms to sell their poultry as “free range” even if the animals never even go outside, but if the have the option to (even just for 5 minutes by having one door open) they are considered “free range.” Many buyers look specifically for these labels because they do not agree with the inhuman ways chickens are raised at other farms, but little do they know the chicken they are buying are raised almost the exact same way. The government also has no restriction on the number of birds in one location or the space per bird, therefor they can literally be stacked on top of each other and still be “free range”????? Turkeys and chickens also have their beaks trimmed at a young age which lead them to bleed and sometimes get infections because these living conditions frustrate them and they start fighting, also very inhumane. The main thing we should know is that these animals farms literally only care about money and their profit so they will do anything to make a few more dollars even in that is hurting the chicken.

Eating Animals 10/4: Brad Brodek

October 4, 2016

Eating animals is a book written by a vegetarian who tells us about his struggles being on. Why he is one through experiences, what goes on at animal factories and cruel details that open many eyes. The whole reason he writes this book and does the research is to see if he should let his future son eat meat or be a vegetarian like him. One question he brings up early is “Why do we eat some animals and not others?” which in my opinion is a valid question although some people might be rather mad hes asking this. He talks about how hes never really been an animal person wither they were domesticated or wild he says that people are hypocrites and love their pets, but yet eat animals similar to them everyday. I do not agree with this because yes we eat animals, but we don’t have emotional or physical connections with them like we do cats and dogs. Although he believes this he falls in love with a puppy named George that he keeps which is a reason he thinks people are hypocrites. Another thing he brings up is the fact that humans were once considered animals, but no we are better than everyone else. He also asks why it is acceptable to eat animals and not humans. This is a bold question to ask in my opinion but it gets the readers mad/upset which can lead to argument. I don’t believe there is anyone who actually thinks we should eat humans so I’m not sure if he is just asking that to start an argument or he actually believes something like if his son dies we should eat him since he is also an “animal”.

He writes Tyson explaining that he wants to learn more about how meat is processed and their living conditions. When he gets to see the chickens it is shocking what he sees. Chickens are so crammed together in small cages and drinking water that is full of their fecal matter, he actually refers to the water in the cages to “fecal soup”. This is the reason I believe most vegetarians don’t eat meat because of the cruel conditions these animals are breed into just to be killed never having a chance. This is also a thing I have a strong opinion on, I believe that the conditions are cruel and awful. Chickens walk all over each other killing many also the living condition is filthy and diseases are spread all the time because of these reasons. If these chickens have diseases and we eat them, don’t you think that is a problem and could lead to humans getting sick. After reading this it got me interested in it and did some side research about these chicken farms and one thing I found that I never knew as how chicken farms had no restrictions and could be inhumane as they wanted which was normally they truth just so they can make as much profit as possible. Another thing I learned was,

“Egg production produces “excess” male chicks with no commercial value since male birds don’t lay eggs. Therefore, the baby brothers of all hens used for all egg production – regardless of the label – are suffocated to death in trash cans, electrocuted, gassed, or ground up alive as soon as they break out of their shells. For every “free-range,” “cage-free,” or “organic” hen, a baby rooster is born and trashed. No federal laws protect chickens from abuse under any label.” ( )

this really opened my eyes on these farms and how they really do only care about money and a profit.

“Eating animals” talks about both the sad and negative reasons to eating animals, but also the positives. Some are that they taste good, we get protein and nutrients out of them and it changes up our diet which is good.

One thing I have always been strong on is that eating animals is good, I mean I hunt and kill deer every year for the reason of meat consumption, but eating meat everyday every meal is over excessive and is one of the reasons why we there are so many cruel animal farms. This is a little off topic but when I tell people I am a hunter and kill animals I always get so mad when they tell me how cruel that is. I ask them if they eat meat and when they say yes I argue with them that they are are worse than me. The animals they eat are raised in cages that never see outside and are born strictly to be killed that never have a chance to live their life they naturally would. So at least when I am eating venison I know that deer had a shot to live a natural life like it has been before I took its life. When I was reading this book this popped up in my head a few times especially when they talked about the animal farms and the inhuman living conditions.





10/4 Notes: Emily

October 4, 2016

Eating Animals:

This is one of the most powerful books I have read in awhile. I say this because this is the first thing I have read in the past two or so years concerning what one could call environmental issues that actually angered me or moved me. As an environmental studies major I read plenty about these issues. But more often then not, I tend to be less aggressive of an environmentalist and am more forgiving of humanity. I used to be someone that thought of people as an “invasive species” or “pest”. I used to think historical peoples were better and respected nature. But study pushed me away from these ideas. In fact, I recently came to the realization that from a purely objective view on nature, that environmentalism didn’t matter because we can’t hurt the earth. Yet reading this book I felt those older feelings inflame in me. I felt compelled. I even worry that now I will have to struggle to reconcile my actions to my beliefs. When I forget to bring my reusable coffee thermos and use a disposable one, I am able to forgive myself and under stand that my action really makes a tiny even negligible difference in the world. But the pork roast I planned on making this weekend? I’m not so sure. This is where I discovered why I am an environmentalist still. As I child, I developed the view from my love of nature and my naive desire to save it. But when I realized it didn’t necessary need to be saved I remained strongly influenced by the ideals of sustainability for reasons I couldn’t quite explain. I just called it my moral standing. But now I see that the morals in question in a large part are about people. The species which I previously saw as the pest of the land. Of course non-animals are extended in that but there have been arguments made that they are people as well. I think acid rain is wrong not for the long term ecological effects it has but on the effects it has on peoples today. I was disgusted to read of the toxification of rivers and the cultivating of diseases because of its link to human suffering. So I guess I am an environmentalist because I oppose needless suffering in peoples and other animals today. I never saw myself as a humanitarian.

How does the animal agricultural system in the U.S. compare with the systems and processes of other countries?

Is less meat really not better?

The correlation that vegetarians have less of certain health problems is not proof of causation as any statistician knows. Vegetarians more likely to be health conscious as shown by their consciousness about meat. They also may be more concerned with eating healthy as they replace meat with other protein and nutrient sources. My problem with the correlation does not undermine their statement that the vegetarian diet is as healthy as the meat eating diet but simply the statement that is it healthier.

As a final note, I found that my anger was strengthened not as I thought about the farms themselves (though that made me reasonably angry and unhappy) but the thought of others’ reactions to what I read in this book. For example, I thought of a conversation with one of my friend’s mothers. My friend was making fun of his mother’s “free range and organic” chicken in the fridge. He explained that organic didn’t actually mean anything because there was no standard necessary to label something as organic. His mother didn’t care and shrugged it off as her stubborn child trying to undermine her. I imagined what it would be like explaining to her that free range had essentially the same lack of meaning. To me this fact is even more shocking than the true meaning (or lack of one) of organic. But I imagined that again she would not care. And this made me very upset. More upset than I have been as an environmentalist in awhile.

The sum of all of this is that I will continue to think about this book for some time. I need to continue to think about it.

Environmental News:

Here is one related to the book and could very well undermine the entire purpose.

Lab-grown Meat

First this takes animal welfare and rights completely out the picture when it comes to eating meat. It also makes meat an entirely business based production. Plus the environmental impact is huge. Just looking at green house gases, the industry could eliminate most of the gases emitted from the industry that emits the most.  That sounds significant!

Here is an article from the Washington Post that is very skeptical of the innovation.

Here is an article from Wired that is totally pro-lab meat.

Pacia Purcell: Eating Animals

October 4, 2016

This book tried to give a look into every aspect of why the way we raise animals for human consumption is bad. It was trying to appeal to every person, because obviously looking at the way these animals are treated is not bad enough to warrant a response towards vegetarianism, or even a response at all. As a vegetarian a lot of what was said in the book resonates with me, and a lot of it I already knew. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and feel like it was a useful read for me and would be for anyone.

There is one part where the author, a vegetarian, says that there are certain circumstances in which he would eat meat and even circumstances in which he said he would eat a dog. But would he eat his own dog or someone else’s? Being a vegetarian for as long I have, a little over 8 years, I have had many people ask me the question of would I ever eat meat again? My answer is no. Then comes the question of what if you were stranded somewhere and the only thing there you could eat was meat would you do it? Well duh. I love animals, but I also love life. If I was in this situation then I would be like an animal again, having to fight to stay alive, eating like an animal. I would not be looking to eat something because I liked the taste, but because I needed to stay alive. However, I cannot say for certainty whether or not I would eat a dog in this situation, but I can say for certainty that I would not eat my own dog.

The book talks about more sustainable and humane ways of raising animals for food, such as on more traditional-like farms. However, meat from these farm generally costs more to raise. They are kept alive longer, meaning more food that one has to feed them over their lifetime. They also require more land space and these farms usually cannot support the vast number of animals that factory farms can. Because the animal’s cost of living increases so does the cost of their bodies after they are slaughtered and sold for meat. Those living in poverty, or who are just cheap and would rather spend their money not supporting a more humane way of raising animals, cannot or will not afford these animals. With the way Americans today eat meat it would be nearly impossible to switch over to these types of farms for the production of all the meat animals. Things would have to go back to how they were before factory farms were the main suppliers of meat, where people ate less meat and had to pay a higher price for it. This is highly unlikely, as people love their meat and the meat industry makes a vast amount of money.

“Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?” Very few people in this country can plead ignorance to what is happening in and because of the meat industry. People may not know to what extent all of this is happening, but the majority does know that it is happening. So why don’t people stop supporting the industry? If you were walking down the street and you came across someone beating and mutilating a pig as it was screaming (because pigs do scream) would you stop the abuser, or would you keep walking? I believe the majority of people would stop and at least tell the person to stop, but then they might go and have some bacon from a pig that came from a factory farm. What a hypocrite. How are people who eat the meat any better than those who cruelly abuse the animals?

“Not responding is a response – we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.” The author states that this book is not a call to arms to become vegetarian, but it kind of is. By not eating meat people do make an impact. There are so many vegetarians in the country that they do make a difference, even if it is only a small one. Being a vegetarian is taking a stance against the meat industry, but also not being a vegetarian is taking a stance for the meat industry and the inhumane treatment of such animals. People feel a disconnect with their food. However if they knew and saw the story of the chicken that they were eating, would they still eat it?