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Eating Animals (thoughts)

February 16, 2010

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?

We have let the factor farm replace farming for the same reasons our cultures have relegated minorities to being second-class members of society and kept women under the power of men. We treat animals as we do because we want to and can.

This is not going to be a standard book review. I think Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is incredible well-written, and it’s obvious to anyone who reads it that it’s incredibly well-researched (there are almost one hundred pages *after* the writing ends devoted to notes and sources). But some books are more important than that. Eating Animals discusses one of the seminal issues of our time, and anyone who buys meat, dairy, or eggs in the US needs to read it so that they know precisely what their money supports. Also, I’d like to point out that Foer didn’t begin researching this book as a vegetarian out to support his position. He began researching this book in order to decide whether or not to be a vegetarian, and as he says in the book that he really likes the taste of meat, I don’t think anyone would accuse him of a hidden agenda.

As Foer says:

We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?

Before I read this book, I knew that factory farming was evil. But I had no idea just how unregulated the industry was, and I had no idea how horrific the ‘standard’ treatment of these animals was.

For example, did you know that factory farms can treat animals any way they’d like as long as the industry adopts it as ‘standard practice’? Rather than the government regulating this industry then, the big businesses decide what’s legal or illegal themselves. (Is anyone else getting a flashback to Upton Sinclair right about now?) As Foer explains:

If the industry adopts a practice-hacking off unwanted appendages with no painkillers, for example, but you can let your imagination run with this-it automatically becomes legal.

Did you know that independent studies from a variety of institutes have all determined that factory farming contributes more to climate change than anything else? Once again, going back to Foer:

The most current data even quantifies the role of diet: omnivores contribute seven times the volume of greenhouse gases that vegans do. …Most simply put, someone who regularly eats factory-farmed animal products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning.

Do you know that up to 11% of the weight of USDA-approved chicken that you buy in any grocery store can come from ‘liquid absorption’? And do you know that that liquid is also referred to as a ‘fecal soup’? Foer quotes Tom Devine, from the Government Accountability Project:

the water in these tanks has been aptly named ‘fecal soup’ for all the filth and bacteria floating around. By immersing clean, healthy birds in the same tank with dirty ones, you’re practically assuring cross-contamination.

Or that the chicken industry put pressure on the USDA so that fecal contamination that occurs when machines rip open a chicken’s intestines sloppily, rather than being a cause for condemnation, is now considered a mere ‘cosmetic blemish’?

Did you know that factory farms have ‘bred’ animals so messed up that they don’t have any immune system, which means that instead they’re fed 17.8 million pounds of antibiotics each year (probably more)? And did you know that these are the same antibiotics humans use, and that therefore factory farming is directly contributing to drug-resistant pathogens the world over?

For example, in 1995, when the Food and Drug Administration approved fluroquinolones-such as Cipro-for use in chickens against the protest of the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of bacteria resistant to this powerful new class of antiobiotics rose from almost zero to 18 percent by 2002. A broader study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an eightfold increase in antimicrobial resistance from 1992 to 1997, and, using molecular subtyping, linked this increase to the use of antimicrobials in farmed chickens.

Did you know that wild fish are caught using methods that are destroying our oceans?

One study found that roughly 4.5 million sea animals are killed as bycatch in longline fishing every year, including roughly 3.3 million sharks, 1 million marlins, 60,000 sea turtles, 75,000 albatross, and 20,000 dolphins and whales.

Even longlines, though, don’t produce the immense bycatch associated with trawling. The most common type of modern shrimp trawler sweeps an area roughly twenty-five to thirty meters wide. The trawl is pulled along the ocean bottom at 4.5 to 6.5 kmh for several hours, sweeping shrimp (and everything else) into the far end of a funnel-shaped net. Trawling, almost always for shrimp, is the marine equivalent of clear-cutting rain forest. Whatever they target, trawlers sweep up fish, sharks, rays, crabs, squid, scallops-typically about a hundred different fish and other species. Virtually all die.

And I haven’t even shared with you the conditions these animals have to deal with yet, have I? I haven’t told you the details of their lives, body parts sliced off with no attempt at painkilling, crammed in with so many others in buildings whose fumes and toxins are so extreme a person could die in ten minutes if the power got shut off. I haven’t told you about the slaughter houses, and what happens there. Because you already know that all of this is messed up (I originally had a much stronger word here, but decided to keep things PG). You know that animals destined for meat live in torture and die that way. You know that if you want to continue eating meat, you should avoid reading about or watching anything that details factory farming, because it is so bottomlessly evil. Which is why I’m sharing with you all of the *other* problems, ones that you might not have been aware of.

And why am I telling you all this? Simple. It’s because the only way to stop factory farming is for us, all of us, to take a stand against it. There’s no neutrality in this issue; either you buy this meat, which looks cheap in the grocery store but which carries with it innumerable environmental, health, and ethical costs, and thus support the factory farming industry, or you don’t. And it sucks that such a vast majority of meat available in the US today comes from factory farming, so much so that in order to not support it, you’re looking at pretty much a vegetarian diet, at least for now, until things change. As Foer says:

We shouldn’t kid ourselves about the number of ethical eating options available to most of us. There isn’t enough nonfactory chicken produced in America to feed the population of Staten Island and not enough nonfactory pork to serve New York City, let alone the country. Ethical meat is a promissory note, not a reality. Any ethical-meat advocate who is serious is going to be eating a lot of vegetarian fare.

A good number of people seem to be tempted to continue supporting factory farms while also buying meat outside that system when it is available. That’s nice. But if it is as far as our moral imaginations can stretch, then it’s hard to be optimistic about the future. Any plan that involves funneling money to the factory farm won’t end factory farming. How effective would the Montgomery bus boycott have been if the protesters had used the bus when it became inconvenient not to?

Here’s what I find most ironic, and unintentionally hilarious about this whole situation. This post of mine is nothing but facts. Almost all of the Foer quotes I shared are the results of studies done by independent observers. But just by sharing these facts, I’m seen as taking a radical stance. That’s how much power the meat, dairy, and egg industries have in our society.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 16, almost a third of my life, except for when I studied abroad in Russia (I was staying with host families, and at the time I felt cultural issues took precedence) and for two months when I thought I was joining the Peace Corps and was preparing my body for meat again (the day I found out I hadn’t gotten my medical clearance, I stopped eating meat; until then, I was eating meat that my dad had hunted). I decided to give veganism a go last year, and I was quite happy as a vegan for six months, until I found out that I am gluten intolerant. That fact was so overwhelming, and made it seem like I could eat so little, that I began eating eggs/dairy products for one of my meals each day. But no more; as of yesterday, I’m eating vegan once again, and I fully intend to stay that way.

Why? It’s certainly not for taste reasons. I love steak, I love sushi, I love ice cream and cheese and omelettes. But I don’t love any of that enough to be willing to support an industry that is not only being so cruel to animals that you might not believe me if I told you everything I know, but one that is also destroying my planet and my public health. If there were a cruelty-free option to eat eggs and dairy, I’d jump on it. But until we all boycott factory farming, until we demand change from these businesses in the only language that they speak (money), those options won’t appear. And so, for the sake of everything that I hold dear, in order to be true to my values, I’m sacrificing. And I’m speaking out.

I can’t make anyone else join me in my boycott (although, if my post makes you want to change your diet, feel free to ask me any questions you might have). But I can give you all the facts. What you choose to do with this knowledge is up to you. But you have to acknowledge that it *is* a choice. I’ll leave you with one last quote from Foer, in which he talks about the intellectual analyses of the meat industry currently going on:

There is one other rule to this game: never, absolutely never, emphasise that virtually all of the time one’s choice is between cruelty and ecological destruction, and ceasing to eat animals.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 6:34 am

    Great post Eva! I have this book on my TBR list and after reading your post I am definitely going to be moving that book up on my list. I am a meat-eater and was only able to go veggie for a few months back in college. But lately I’ve been really considering going veggie full force. I have autoimmune hepatitis and I really do believe that a healthy diet full of veggies and fruit may be key in helping me keep my liver stable. So, this book sounds like it might be the push I need to become more aware of the food industry’s dirty secrets regarding farm factoring and the treatment of these animals, and so forth. Thanks for including those quotes and writing an honest review. Cheers!

  2. February 16, 2010 6:39 am

    The problem is that factory vegetable farming isn’t really that much better. Having worked at an Oscar Meyer plant at one time, for instance, I can tell you that a Boca Burger ain’t exactly put together out of the finely kept pastures of God’s Green Earth. A factory farm growing crops instead of animals is equally nasty, consuming a godforsaken amount of diesel fuel, siphoning off tons of fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide, killing countless wild species of bird, animal and plant, and destroying not only the habitat that is torn up to make the farm, but generally much of the habitat surrounding the farm, as well. Just as with plants, you CAN buy foods that are more environmentally conscious, like organic. But just as with plants, this organic food is prohibitively expensive, limited, and honestly often still not terribly environmentally neutral. Most people, just like wtih meat, sort of say ‘well, I’ll buy organic when I can, but I’m not going to go broke over it’. The vast majority of grains, vegetables, and fruits comes from a system just as corrupt, destructive, and perverse as the animal system – it’s just a bit less easy to glamourize the evils of it, because you’re not directly hurting an animal that’s easy for us as humans to sympathize with.

    An environmentally conscious diet is a good first step – but this means evaluating all our food choices, not just the meat ones. And beyond that, the reason the organic vegetable market has grown is because people are BUYING organic vegetables – if we wanted to decrease the amount of factory meat, one would think the most reasonable thing would be to increase demand for eco-meat, thus increasing supply, thus producing economies of scale that decrease prices.

    But more than this, I think that insome ways, this is the same approach that we used for years for things like global warming – telling all the individuals in the country they need to change, and then frowning at the power brokers who continue to make the problems we consume. Sure, it would be great if everyone in the world started eating environmentally friendly foods – but it won’t happen, because that’s not the only problem people inthe world have. I mean, can we really blame someone who’s struggling to pay their bills for eating a cheap, filling meal, because they should have paid a premium in unavailable time, money, and effort to eat something healthy, when time money and effort are three things they simply don’t have? The only way to change a systemic issue in the long run is systemically – making it more attractive to do what’s right than it is to do what’s wrong.

  3. February 16, 2010 6:49 am

    Wow, what a post, Eva! I love that you have raised this issue.
    I was a vegetarian at university but the fact that I don’t like a lot of vegetarian alternatives meant that I was eating pretty much nothing but pasta and vegetables for three years, and I lost a lot of weight, which wasn’t good, as I was already underweight before I became a vegetarian! So now I eat meat a few times a week, but I only eat organic, free range stuff, which has been bred and killed in strictly controlled, humane conditions. This kind of meat is widely available in UK supermarkets, at a price, of course. I’m not sure about your options on that front in the US but it sounds like they’re limited. What angers me is that meat that has been produced through treating animals humanely and killing them in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary pain is sold at a significantly higher price than other meat, which is so many people’s deciding factor when it comes to food. If you’re faced with the choice of spending £10 on an organic, free range chicken or £3 on a factory farmed chicken, most people would choose the £3 chicken. In our society, cost is paramount, and until humane treatment of animals becomes the norm, and all meat costs the same, people will continue to buy the cheapest product they can, which inevitably is the factory farmed meat. It makes me so sad that saving a few pounds is more important to people than the welfare of defenceless animals. My flatmate always insists on saving 50p by buying caged hen eggs, which makes me so angry – for just 50p you can buy eggs from hens that have been allowed to roam free and have a quality of life. It’s a no brainer for me.
    Reading your post has made me want to go back to being a vegetarian though. I feel a bit sick, and thankfully I’ve only had vegetable soup for lunch…

  4. February 16, 2010 7:11 am

    Well this is definitely an eye opener post. I had no idea that such things went on and that animals were treated so badly. I think the ‘fecal soup’ may have put me off chicken for life. I have never really thought about how the meat in my fridge got there, but I will definitely look at buying better options. Though I have to agree with bookssnob above, I do think that cost is the primary factor in what meat we buy. When you have a budget and need to feed all the family, then cost will always come before farming matters. Hopefully one day the prices will be reduced.

  5. February 16, 2010 7:14 am

    Fantastic review. This sounds like a very powerful book and I think I need to read it. I could easily give up meat, but dairy might be difficult for me until I read this.

  6. February 16, 2010 7:20 am

    Great post. I’m almost through this book but I put it down for a little while. It’s made me shift toward a more vegetarian way of life than I was already living (I never eat beef or pork but now I’m trying to cut out poultry and fish, too). Not sure I can ever go vegan. I think before I review this book, I’m going to have to do a post explaining my whole philosophy. I salute you for believing in something so much and doing something that I would find incredibly challenging.

  7. February 16, 2010 7:35 am

    I started out to write the comment that Jason did and then stopped because I couldn’t write it and sound, well just as good as Jason did. I still plan on reading Eating Animals and I’m sure it will horrify me, but I probably won’t go vegan, for many reasons. But! I am already eating less meat than I was, so it is a start.

  8. February 16, 2010 7:56 am

    I’ve read similar books to this and switched to Organic, free-range eggs, milk, and meat several months ago. It’s been really expensive, but I have a greater peace of mind now. I know I can’t even 100% guarantee their humanity or safety, but I’m trying to make my way by letting my $ do some talking by what I purchase.

    Thanks for your review and passionate response!

  9. conradvisionquest permalink
    February 16, 2010 8:13 am

    great post!

    i just recently went vegan for ethical reasons. i also used to say i didn’t have the time or money to do it, but it’s amazing the solutions you can come up with when you are determined and willing to put the effort in. with the money i saved from not buying meat, i was able to buy more organic fruits and veggies. we also grow our own every season. i prefer fresh food, rather than buying the over-processed fake meat (although the huz loves it). it’s been incredibly easy and i wish i had done it years ago!

    “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything!” ~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

    I highly recommend Colleen’s podcast. You can find it at

  10. February 16, 2010 9:05 am

    This book might be the push I need to become a vegetarian. I want to buy organic, grass-fed meat, but it’s actually outside my budget right now as we barely have money to eat as it is. I really have to consider what I’m doing. Thanks for this review, Eva.

  11. February 16, 2010 9:47 am

    I’ve been wondering if the book was any good. Sounds like it is. I know about all the “stuff” and have been vegan for 17 years because of it. I find that a lot of people who so insitently eat meat have a hard time imagining what a person who eats no animal products at all could possibly live on besides grass. They think vegan is a privation diet but it is nothing of the sort. Jason is very correct in his comment about vegetable farming being almost as bad as meat farming. But there are always alternatives and they aren’t necessarily more expensive. The more processed the food the costlier it is. The more whole food you eat the cheaper it is even when it is 100% organic. And even better than buying at the grocery store is to buy a share in a local organic community supported agriculture farm. My husband and I get so much food for so much less during the growing season that we are sometimes hard pressed to be able to eat it all. Eating locally and eating in season also make a big difference. And, of course, if you have a yard or a sunny deck or balconey, you can always grow some of your own veggies.

    Sorry for the long comment. Thanks for the great post!

  12. February 16, 2010 10:16 am

    Thanks for the post. I recently read this book as well and was likewise impressed with Foer’s point of view as an “outsider”. My appreciation for this (as a longtime vegan myself) is that such books, when written by people who’ve been veg forever, seem to forget that it *is* difficult, for a variety of reasons, to contemplate changing one’s diet to vegetarianism or veganism. I like that he acknowledges the difficulties while not portraying them as impossible to deal with.

  13. February 16, 2010 10:51 am

    I plan to read this at some point and time. Interesting review. :)

  14. February 16, 2010 11:06 am

    Great post, Eva. Another part of the problem I think is that many meat-eaters have a stereotype of vegetarian food as just a bunch of vegetables. There are so many great vegetarian cookbooks out there, and I wish people knew how good this food can be!!!

  15. February 16, 2010 11:27 am

    I became a vegetarian a couple of months ago because I am having trouble digesting animal proteins… lately I have had issues with eggs/dairy as well so about 80% of the time I cut that out too. I’m still struggling with it as a whole. I did it for my own personal health issues, but I know that reading this book will encourage me to continue to do it for other reasons as well.

    Even without getting into the treatment of animals, just the amount of disease and the high usage of anti-biotics makes me question the need to eat animal proteins. I think a lot of folks are lured by the “organic” label but again, that doesn’t make it a perfect food.

    I have to get to get this book.

  16. Adam Bullock permalink
    February 16, 2010 11:41 am

    Great blog!

    After being just somewhat interested in factory farming for the past few years (we’ve all seen the horrible videos), I saw Jonathan Safran Foer on The Colbert Report (or was it The Daily Show?) and was impressed with the story behind the book. It’s my understanding that yes, he had been struggling with the idea of becoming a vegetarian for some time but now that his child was coming into this world, this was a decision he was making for his child.

    I’m 3/4th’s through the book and after mucho research this weekend, I have decided to be a vegetarian. About a year ago, I decided not to eat pork. Not because of my religion, but because of video I saw of a factory farm. This book (and subsequent research) reveals that it’s much more than just animal abuse at the time of slaughter.

    It’s animal abuse from the EMBRYO. This book taught me that animals are bred to SUFFER. Hens BRED to balloon unnaturally just for extra meat (nevermind their well-being as a result – about 30% arrive to slaughter with broken bones…and that’s before the terrible slaughtering process), their legs unable to support the weight of their drugged DNA; you’re not eating chicken, or pork anymore.

    The issue is more than just animal cruelty. This is cruelty to humans, as well. And if you’re cool with thinking “poor animals” and pushing it to the back of your mind, you’re missing the point.

    Sorry for the rambling.

  17. February 16, 2010 1:23 pm

    Nice post, Eva, and best of luck returning to a vegan way of life.

  18. February 16, 2010 2:08 pm

    To be honest, I’ve been afraid of this book for the reasons you’ve put up there. It scares me that I would have to face them straight up, and have no where to hide. Like so many others, I’ve know about factory farming for a while now, but I didn’t know it was so rampant in America. Makes me wonder if it’s the same elsewhere around the world.

    But this post is great, in the sense that it’s a real eye-opener. I’m thinking I should just take a deep breath, and grab my fears by their horns.

    Anyway, have you watched “Home”? It’s this film about the environment basically, but so well done with such awesome and breathtaking pictures. If you’ve not watched it, it’s on YouTube (watch it in HD!) HERE. I swear, it’s worth it.

  19. February 16, 2010 2:44 pm

    Good post Eva; it’s so nice to read when someone is passionate about something. I am also a vegetarian (since I was 20, so about half my life). However, I do eat eggs and dairy. And, yes, I wear leather shoes. I do eat veggies and fruits from the local farmer’s market, which I convince myself is better than the other options. Now if I could just stop eating the processed chocolate…

  20. lena permalink
    February 16, 2010 3:52 pm

    Amen amen amen!

  21. February 16, 2010 5:54 pm

    Great review, Eva!! I chose to be a vegetarian middle of last year and have never look back since!

  22. She permalink
    February 16, 2010 5:59 pm

    I loved Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so it’s really interesting seeing him write something so. . . different. I personally don’t eat that much meat– maybe once or twice a week and it’s either chicken or fish. I too started the restrictive diet when I was 16, but more for heart health than anything else.

    I have friends who are strictly vegan, and while I understand why they do it, they are very, very unhealthy. They do not take the necessary protein substitutes and thus look quite sickly and complain all the time about tiredness etc. I hope Foer also delves a bit into healthy habits for those who are vegan/vegetarian as protein and calcium consumption are just as important for them as for the rest of us! :)

  23. February 16, 2010 6:24 pm

    Thanks for this review. I was a vegetarian for environmental reasons up until a couple of years ago, when I cracked and started eating meat again. I’ve been considering going back to being a vegetarian – sounds like this is a book I need to read!

  24. February 16, 2010 7:17 pm

    I could just say ditto to everything Jason said and be done with it, but I’ll just start with the ditto and then add a bit from my own experience.

    After reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma last year, I stopped eating anything but free-range eggs–and I try to know something about the farm they came from since the definition of free-range is alarmingly loose. The treatment of caged laying chickens is beyond belief. My CSA provides more than enough truly free-range eggs for my purposes (unless I’m baking a pound cake), and I have a friend who raises chickens who can provide eggs if I get in a pinch. So I’m lucky on that score.

    I’m also very, very lucky to live in reach of Polyface Farm–the “beyond organic” farm Pollan writes about. Their buyers’ club has monthly drop-offs within 10 minutes of my house. Yes, the meat is more expensive, and it’s a hassle to pick it up on their schedule, but it is so worth it to know how the animals are treated and slaughtered. I sometimes supplement with farmers’ market meat, but I can only think of a handful of times that I’ve purchased meat at the grocery store in the past year, and even then I think it’s always been organic.

    I see from your quotes that Foer does talk about ethical meat-eating but it sounds like he’s dismissive of the whole idea. He is quite right that if you’re going to eat meat ethically, you will end up eating vegetarian a lot of the time. Meat probably cannot be raised ethically at a scale required to meet our meat consumption habits, but I’m not convinced it’s a zero-sum game, either. Ethical meat-eating might be a more realistic option for a larger number of people if they didn’t see meat as their main entree but as a garnish or supplement. If I eat steak, it’s almost always the smallest item on my plate. And I’ve become a whiz at stretching the Polyface meat I do purchase to last a long time. (Chicken stew made with chicken backs was my favorite discovery last year. The backs are cheap, and they make for a flavorful broth.) If everybody ate meat in this way (small portions once or twice a week), would we even need factory farms?

  25. February 16, 2010 8:03 pm

    Here’s what I find most ironic, and unintentionally hilarious about this whole situation. This post of mine is nothing but facts. Almost all of the Foer quotes I shared are the results of studies done by independent observers. But just by sharing these facts, I’m seen as taking a radical stance. That’s how much power the meat, dairy, and egg industries have in our society.

    This reminds me of reading Food Revolution by John Robbins. He had plenty of facts with the proper back up. He also included quotations from scientists and then quotations from the meat industry underneath the scientists’. It was sad really how flippant the meat industry and their lobbyists are in regards to these matters and their complete disregard for the facts.

    I have been vegetarian since I was thirteen and each time I read books like this I am glad that I no longer eat meat. I am not completely vegan but I don’t drink milk, rarely eat eggs and cheese although sometimes I break down. If we do buy eggs, we buy the free-range, cage-free eggs or eggs at the farmer’s market. It’s imperfect, I know. Still working on eliminating those things completely.

    I love your passion and applaud you for bringing these issues to the forefront.

  26. February 16, 2010 9:54 pm

    I was constantly sick with IBS when I was in the states…I wonder if it had to do with what I was buying at the store + eating in restaurants? I feel OK here.

  27. February 17, 2010 12:22 am

    SUCH a fantastic post Eva!!! I’m about to read this myself and I’m prepared to make big changes after reading this.

  28. February 17, 2010 2:10 pm

    Eva, this is a wonderful review; your own passion and your own thinking stand out.

    I’ll admit that I’m reluctant to read Foer’s book, only because I’m like an ostrich with my head in the sand, ignoring some issues I know exist. If I read the book (and educate myself), I’ll have to make some tougher decisions in defending (if only to myself) what I eat.

    I’ll read EATING ANIMALS, but I’m not yet ready.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  29. February 17, 2010 2:51 pm

    The book sounds great. The author was on the Colbert Report. Here is a link to the video clip:

  30. February 17, 2010 10:19 pm

    As I read this book I was agreeing while at the same time craving a hamburger. There were some points I wasn’t as on board with as others, and obviously agreeing with the logic and ethics and everything doesn’t guarantee I’m not going to be hungry for meat later…and then give in and go ahead and go ahead and eat it. I don’t buy a lot of meat for home, but I do eat it habitually when I go out. And now when I do I think about exactly what I’m doing when I eat it. That’s one thing the book has done to change me. But will I choose indifference and forget? Or will I take the next step and commit? I wondered if after reading this book if God will now hold me accountable for the food choices I make because of what I know. I think probably so.

    It’s a brilliant book. Truly.

  31. February 18, 2010 6:34 am

    Have you read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable and Miracle? Some think it’s preachy and maybe it is but the author not only makes an argument for eating locally and seasonally, she makes a valid argument why vegetarianism is not a viable option for many of the world’s population and how the packaged, vegetarian options actually create more a carbon foot print than ethical harvesting of animals.

    I was vegan for a short time. I eat mostly a vegetarian diet now. And I know that economics for the poor is a very real barrier to eating a vegetarian diet. It really is a less prpductive to argue if it can be done and more useful to look at all options to improve our health and to publicly criticize industry practices. We also should objectively look at the diet of the poor and why what we eat is a soci-economic, political issue.

    If you suffer diseases such as chrons (sp) vegetarianism isn’t an option. If you have issues with bowel obstruction, ditto.

    And globally, many climates do not support a vegetarian diet. Giving communities animals to raise for their milk and meat are viable ways for families to produce an income. Most countries have very little meat in their diets.

    While I applaud and fully appreciate the value of a vegan diet, I know we live in a world where we all do not have equal access.

    I stopped eating meat in the 80s like many people who were appalled by the documentaries about factory farming. It is inhumane and I believe these meat products are significantly contributing to our poor health.

    Still, I also know we could not nor do I think should we stop eating meat all together. We domesticated the cow and chicken and pigs. These animals cannot be kept as pets. And how humane is it not to drain off the milk of a cow?

    I think native people whose culture for centuries have revered all life and who harvest what they need, use every bit of the animal in a useful way are humane and ethical.

    I think we do need to send factory farming industry a strong message but not eating animal products all together isn’t the only option.

    Sounds like a very good book. Will look for it.


  32. February 18, 2010 6:39 am


    I love and eat a lot of Indian food. I know how wonderful vegetarian food is and I get really pissed when folks think serving me an iceburg salad and roll is a vegetarian option.

  33. February 18, 2010 6:42 am

    I believe like others have said, if we consumed less and opted for other harvesting practices that would be humane and healthier.

  34. bethfishreads permalink
    February 20, 2010 7:46 am

    As you know, I’m a meat eater. I don’t support industrial meat and dairy farming though. All meat and dairy I eat is raised on family farms (owned by friends — I can visit the farms and see the happy and free animals). I usually (not always, I admit) eat vegetarian (not necessarily vegan) in restaurants because of food safety issues. I haven’t eaten commercial ground beef (in any form — sausage, burgers, salami, etc.) in probably 10 years. I have friends who think I’m nuts, but I never worry about E. coli breakouts or mad cow scares. Eat local and buy local and know where your food comes from. That is the answer. We can go back to eating the way we are supposed to (and that means less protein in general and meat only a few times a week).


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