Eating Animals Notes

March 1, 2017

This has been my favorite book that we have read so far (I can’t necessarily say I enjoyed reading it since I found myself cringing during many parts of the book). I like how honestly Foer rights. He doesn’t have an attitude of reprimand, but understands the complications that go into the decision of being a vegetarian, the effect community (like his college campus, his wife, or whether or not he was out in public or not) has on his vegetarianism. I think the book got harder and harder to read as the facts piled up, but I now feel less removed from the food I have been eating.

1-17: “Food, for her, is not food. It is terror, dignity, gratitude, vengeance, joyfulness, humiliation, religion, history, and, of course, love” (5). Hearing Foer’s grandmother’s struggle food food helped me to become more reflective on my own food waste and wants versus needs.

24-74: It upset me how logical the argument for eating dogs was, because I fully understood the reasoning, but it went against all of my emotions. The lack of laws against animal abuse in the factory farming industry do not make sense, and Foer makes a good point that the animals are treated “… with cruelty so extreme it would be illegal if inflicted on a dog.” I think why dogs are not eaten in many countries comes down to what Foer defined as sentimentality; realistically, all animals deserve the respect we give our companion animals, but emotionally, more people have a real connection with dogs rather than farm animals or fish, so tend to protect dogs more.

30: “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 argument against being eaten?” Related to this question, in Environmental Ethics, we had a class activity where half of the class were “Alphas,” aliens who needed to experiment on another life form to stop the spread of a disease, and humans, who defended themselves against being used as test subjects. When the Alphas countered that they would die if they did not experiment on us because we are the only suitable test organism, I found it hard to justify that they shouldn’t kill us, since that is the same rationale Americans, including me in certain cases, use for experimentation on animals. That realization was very humbling and made me wonder if breeding mice, for example, like the alphas wanted to breed humans is ethical. I think if this saves human lives, it can be justified, but at the same time, when I see the experiments in progress I turn away because it does make me feel guilty, much like people ignore the place their food is coming from and much like how Reese felt conflicted upon sending his animals away to be processed. I like how this book challenged me to no longer ignore the cruelty being done to animals in factory farms.

60: “It should provide no more peace of mind than “all-natural,” “fresh,” or “magical.” The juxtaposition of the words the food industry uses like “all-natural” and “fresh” with the word “magical” puts into perspective how the meaning of those words has become something abstract. I found this entire section of definitions very disconcerting because simple words like “intelligence” became more complex and words like “all-natural” that are supposed to hold so much meaning can no longer be trusted. Language is powerful, and big industries are using that power to manipulate buyers. It was also discomforting to hear about the power factory farms hold, over organizations like American Medical Association, CDC, Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization (139).

96-144: Foer was well researched and I appreciated how he gave first-hand accounts from people from a variety of professions. Hearing from the vegetarian rancher and vegan slaughterhouse builder were especially interesting perspectives. He also does a good job of addressing common misconceptions, like the argument that it is necessary to eat animals to obtain enough protein, and portraying both sides of arguments for and against eating animals. It is important to not ignore how effective meat is at delivering a protein diet to those who cannot afford to buy other, more expensive sources of protein. Foer’s explanation of the economics of food and the reality of feeding billions of people really put into perspective an important part of the controversy over eating animals. I had been so focused on the inhumane aspects of a factory farm with respect to animals that I did not consider the inhumane conditions for the factory farm workers (132). It was interesting to hear both sides of the argument about the resources that farming vegetables and farming meat use. I found it shocking that 1/3 of the land surface is used to feed livestock (148) and it seems logical that the grain and soy being used to feed animals (211) could be used more effectively to feed the hungry. I have volunteered at Feed my Starving Children, and they use grains and soy to make nutritious meals (for pennies per meal) to save people who are going hungry around the globe. At the same time, plowing and planting crops also damages the environment, grazing animals help maintain grasslands, and manure can help fertilize soil, but factory farming has taken away these benefits (219). The $26 billion in land degradation due to industrial faming (173), the pollution “…160 times greater than raw municipal sewage” (174) and the illnesses that go along with them (180) were other shocking facts to hear.

262: Foer’s explanations of the seating arrangements around a dinner table reminded me of an event I went to called the Oxfam Hunger Banquet that put into perspective the disparity of wealth around the world. Before we entered the room, we were handed a slip of paper telling us our level of wealth/poverty, which reflected the proportion of wealth distribution throughout the world. We listened to stories of people in that position of social status, and we ate the type of meal that they would have to eat (I was labeled as someone in poverty and sat on the floor to eat rice and beans while others sat at a table with a table cloth, candle and flowers eating steak).

Questions:

63: What is your definition of “human”?

199: “Where should I respectfully disagree with someone and where, for the sake of deeper values, should I take a stand and ask others to stand with me?”

11: Foer touches throughout the book on the meaning food has for people including health, pleasure, history and values. What does food mean to you?

3rd Google:

Here is a link to a website that explains and gives examples of zoonotic pathogens.


Eating Animals

March 1, 2017

So far this has been my favorite book we’ve read in this class. I enjoyed the flow, I found it very easy to read and understand. Some points that stuck out to me were…

  • He talks about how he would go back an forth between being a vegetarian, and even after he married his wife they would say there are vegetarians but still eat meat occasionally whenever they wanted. At this point I don’t think they were vegetarians for the same reasons most people are actually vegetarians. Animals rights doesn’t seem to be the reason why they became vegetarian because they weren’t strict about it. Vegetarians I think stop eating meat not only for the health benefits but mainly for animal rights. So at this point in the book its not clear to me why they decided to become vegetarians at all.
  • On page 17 it’s the end of the grandmother telling her story about trying to survive the war. When a Russian farmer saw her sick and starving he offered her meat. You would think since your on the brink of death that you would eat anything given to you, yet the grandmother didn’t eat the meat because it was pork. She didn’t eat the pork because it  wasn’t kosher. This is pretty extreme. I definitely would’ve ate whatever was given to me even if it was something I disliked just so I could survive. Her reasoning was “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”
  • Johnathan mentions in the chapter George how he hates animals especially dogs. So one day walking down the streets of Brooklyn he sees a black puppy needing to be adopted and someone who is supposed to not be a dog person decides its love at first sight and needs to adopt that puppy. In my opinion I wonder if after having a child some how this unconsciously change his views about dogs.
  • Humane Methods of Slaughter Act- this is pointless if it’s not regulated. Also, there is no such thing as humane slaughter.

Current Event

Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater

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Seagrass meadows bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth — can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research


Eating Animals

March 1, 2017

I enjoyed this book for a lot of reasons:

Structurally, Foer’s writing style is simplistic and engaging. There were sections I skipped (for the sake of time) but everything else that I did read had me nodding my head and truly eager to read the next bit. For a book like this it’s extremely important that he is able to covey what he is saying in the plainest way possible. This is a science book geared toward the general public, not scientists, and I think that Foer bridged the gap between the two parties quite well. Too often people shy away from scientific readings because they are too confusing and too hard and instead get misinformation from bad web articles, but Foer seamlessly wove a myriad of scientific articles and facts into his book, making it so simple for a reader to understand.

Content wise, Foer included so many facts, perspectives, stories, and consequences revolving around meat and factory farming that it was hard not to enjoy. He ponders a lot of thoughtful ideas and provokes his readers to question not only our own consumption and what it means for us but what our consumption means for all factory farmed animals, what it means for the environment, for our families and children, and for people all around the world. He focused a lot on animal cruelty but included many other aspects of factory farming. This is just a reminder that there are many perspectives to think about when considering any topic and to always keep an open mind to new ideas. Eating animals is a messy and complicated topic, which might be why people choose not to think deeply or morally about it or consider its ramifications or solutions.

In conclusion, I admire the way Foer stayed relatively objective. He presented the facts, but he never shamed anyone for their habits nor did he hold himself up on a pedestal. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if Foer was going to turn out to be a vegetarian because he swung back and forth so often (like so many people do). He understands that perfection isn’t easily obtained because he himself was inconsistent for so long, and that’s okay. Foer finally made a commitment (good for him) after years of researching and investigating. Personally, I don’t think that everyone needs to become vegetarian or vegan, but people should be conscientious about their consumption and eat less of those items (not 21,000 animals in a lifetime). If the demand lessens, then coming up with a solution to the issues of factory farming would be far easier.


 

A 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that solar could reach 1-3.8 million homes by 2020 but currently less than 1 percent of U.S. households have gone solar. In order to entice homeowners to install photovoltaic systems Sistine Solar, a company founded at the MIT Sloan School of Management, creates custom solar panels designed to mimic home facades and other environments. Sistine’s novel technology, SolarSkin, is a layer that can be imprinted with any image and embedded into a solar panel without interfering with its efficacy. Homeowners can match their rooftop or a grassy lawn, businesses can fit their panels with logos and advertisements, even a country’s flag can be embedded in the panels. The SolarSkin systems cost about 10 percent more than traditional panels but can save over $30,000 over the systems lifetime.

SolarSkin words by employing selective light filtration to display an image while still transmitting light to the underlying solar cells. The ad wraps displayed on bus windows offer a good analogy: The wraps reflect some light to display an image, while allowing the remaining light through so passengers inside the bus can see out; SolarSkin achieves a similar effect. This technology allows for more creative/imaginative uses of solar and putting it in places know one might have thought of before—municipalities could install light-powering panels on highways that blend in with nature, companies could create business signs out of them, panels with changeable advertisements could be placed at bus shelters to charge cell phones, information kiosks, and other devices. The possibilities stretch as far as one’s imagination.

If you want to know more, go to MIT’s website!


I’m going vegetarian again

March 1, 2017

This book was deeply upsetting to me even though I already had a vague idea of what goes on in factory farms. Just seeing it described like that, in the style it’s written in, honestly made me cry a few times. The scene where the slaughterhouse worker was talking about cutting the pig’s snout off made me have to set the book down and just kind of sob for a few minutes because it was so awful. Even though I’ve seen the PETA ads, I’ve seen pictures of factory farms, I never thought much about what I was contributing to by eating meat. I also honestly thought more of the meat I ate came from more humane farms, and I wholeheartedly believed in “cage free” and labels like that. Now that I’ve read this book, I’m probably going to stop eating meat again. I was a vegetarian from the time I was eight to the time I was sixteen because of animal welfare concerns and I’ve thought a bit about going back to it and I think Eating Animals pushed me over the edge.

Something I really liked about Foer’s writing was his use of personal experiences from both his own life and the lives of ranchers, factory farmers, and others. It gave a humanness to this story about animals, which I think is important- not to anthropomorphize the animals, but to animal-ize the humans. As much as animals are shown to have emotions and thoughts, people are shown to act on instinct- doing cruel things for money, lashing out against animals under poor conditions, ect. It shows that humans act in these ways under the pressures of late capitalism, and that it is not natural for us just as it isn’t natural for animals to live in confined conditions. In a way, humans are being factory farmed, too, but for labor rather than flesh. Just look at our prisons and how people are being forced to work in terrible conditions for literal pennies per hour! Or, more commonly, how humans are forced to put their whole lives and all their energy into their jobs, no matter how unpleasant, just to survive. As a farm animals purpose is to be eaten, a human’s purpose under late capitalism is to work. I think that making this connection is important in being more compassionate both to humans and to animals, and that animal welfare really has a lot to do with human rights. This is why I have chosen to stop giving my money to factory farms, because they are the purest representation of injustice against both humans and animals. Maybe it won’t make much of a difference (it didn’t when i was vegetarian before, but then again I was just a kid back then) but I do agree that the way we eat influences the way people around us eat, and that creates a ripple effect. I’m looking forward to seeing how this dietary change affects my health, my ideals, and the diets of people around me.

Current Event: Wild Elephants Clock Shortest Shut-eye recorded for Mammals

Recent studies using fitbit-like monitors and gyroscopic collars on wild elephants show that they sleep two hours or less per day, and they rarely lie down to sleep. I think this is interesting because it would seem like larger animals would sleep more- but the article says otherwise, showng a clear connection between larger size and less sleep. It says this may be because larger animals need to eat and do more to maintain their size, and thus sleep less. It also brings up new questions about what sleep is for, since it was thought to be for categorizing memories but elephants have amazing memories that can cross generations. The other thing this made me think about was that animals in the wild sleep less than animals in captivity. It reminds me of Eating Animals, because the book talked about boredom in animals and the self-injurous activities they do, and oversleeping might be something they do out of boredom. The article says that they sleep less in the wild because there are predators and other such dangers, which fits with this.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/wild-elephants-clock-shortest-shut-eye-recorded-mammals


Eating Animals

March 1, 2017

Eating Animals: This book was much better than the last two. It was much easier to read, and much more interesting/exciting. The little inserted letters from people involved in the industry and things like breaking into farms kept me interested the whole time. I’ve always known that slaughterhouses and factory was inhumane, but this is the longest thing I’ve read about it. At some point in the book he says “there isn’t enough non-factory chicken to feed Staten Island” which surprised me. I also didn’t realize how low the standards for organic/free-range food is. To be organic the animal just has to have access to the outdoors at some point, meaning there’s very little difference between that and nonorganic meat. This book isn’t going to turn me vegetarian by any means but it definitely raised question in my mind about the ethics of what I’m eating.

Current Event: Donald Trump has issued an order to start repealing the Waters of the United States Rule, which was put in place by Obama. It increased regulation of major waterways to prevent pollution, mostly from agriculture. Although many are worried about this, it will probably take years to repeal it as it’s buried real deep bureaucratically.

http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/tns-trump-clean-water-rule.html14-skagitriver-irenecallender1


Eating Animals- Post #7

March 1, 2017

Eating Animals:

Being a big time meat eater, this book gave me a stomach ache with certain things Foer presented in his book. When Foer explained the cruelty of factory farms and how animals are mistreated there, it made me extremely sad that the human race could do such a thing to innocent animals. The scene that really struck me was midway through the book when Foer tells the story of him and an animal activist raiding a poultry farm and saving a chick by slicing it’s neck. After reading that part, it finally hit me that this is a major problem that, to many, isn’t all that major.

On a day to day basis people do not think about what they are eating, instead all they care about is the taste of their food or how it looks. This is due to people not having the knowledge as some others do, as well as people just not caring about how the animals are being treated. So the solution to these problems are exposing the cruelty of these animals in a more effective way to get the message across.To me, I personally do not think people should not eat meat, but people do need to stop the mistreatment of animals in the process. The problem is that I do not believe this will stop until humans start looking at themselves and animals as equal beings that feel the same pain and misery as when they suffer.

 

Image result for factory farms mistreatment of animals

 

Current Event: 

WARNING: THE SALISH ORCA IS HEADED FOR EXTINCTION 

-The Southern Resident Killer Whales, also known as the Orcas of the Salish Sea, have declined to a frightening number of 78, as reported in 2015. The Canadian Minister for Fisheries and Oceans has finally called for a federal recovery plan for the orcas. This call has been long over due since the whales have been endangered in Canada since 2001, which makes it 16 years without a recovery plan while being endangered. According to the WWF-Canada, there are four main threats endangering the orcas. These threats consist of contaminants from watershed pollution, noise and harassment from vessels, industrial development encroaching on their habitat, and dwindling numbers of Chinook salmon. It will be interesting to see how the Canadian government responds to this call, as well as where the status of these iconic whales will be 10 years from now.

 

Image result for Salish Orca whales

 


Ensuring Cruelty

March 1, 2017

Eating Animals

 

This book basically expansively dives into all the reasons why I am an animal Throughout the book I kept catching myself exclaiming “yes!”, “exactly”, and/or “same”. There was very little in this book that I disagreed with. I want everyone to read this book if they want to understand why I think animals should have rights. However not everyone will have the privilege to read this book, here are some main points that I find important:

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

This is one of the many things in this book that broke my heart. This quote form Jonathan Saran Foer’s World Wars ridden grandmother hark on the knowledge we know, but choose to immorally ignore. To me, this quote could be turned into a motto for my activism. The reason behind my strain to do the right thing in regards of purchasing food and products. I go out of my way to ensure I am not eliciting overlooked and overfunded animal cruelty when I purchase anything (food, makeup, toiletries, gifts etc.). It might be inconvenient for me and annoying to some, but to me, I am living the life I would want everyone else would. Even though I am not starving like Foer’s grandmother was when she refused pork that was not Kosher, but I can embody some that same commitment to a moral standing. I put my convenience on the back burner if it means it lessens the suffering of animals

 

  1. It is the fact these practices in animal cruelty can be avoided.

To me, it is not a matter of people not knowing, it’s a matter of not caring or avoiding this torture. I think most people fall in the latter when it is between the two.  Foer makes the argument (more toward the end) that knowing this information and thinking it is wrong, but continue to support it is irrational and cruel. I agree, but I’ve learned that the only thing I can do is be an example for others to look up to and be a source of information. This book has reiterated the heartbreak and irrevocable anger I sometimes have towards human overconsumption. I had to put this book many times due to sadness and anger I felt toward the meat industry. Fortunately, all the hard hitting facts and personal anecdotes were all thrown together in a neatly written way and well understood from someone other than myself. I have felt alone in this battle of human vs. animal, but books and stories like this reassure me I am not alone, but I am still few.

 

  1. Animals cannot give consent

That’s all.

 

I have more to say, but withhold until I lead discussion

 

 

Current Event: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/well/eat/got-almond-milk-dairy-farms-protest-milk-label-on-nondairy-drinks.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FCruelty%20to%20Animals&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=collection

 

Basically, the dairy industry wants to claim the word “milk”. This article dives into the recent spike in cow’s milk alternatives and the reasons why. It also argues that the dairy industry is being petty and assumes it has bigger issues than a name claim.