Eating Animals

I can't remember the last time I was so rattled by one book.
I'm not going to go as far as to say Jonathan Safran Foer is the Upton Sinclair of 2009, but well ... maybe he is.
Eating Animals raises some serious questions with American agriculture. From the excruciating passages on livestock slaughter to the downright nasty descriptions of how animals are kept and fed, JSF does a good job of making you pretty damn depressed.
And you should be depressed. Factory Farms account for 99 percent of all our food. Animals raised on these farms consume somewhere in the range of 17 million tons of antibiotics per year. (By contrast humans consume around 3 million) One river waste spill at a typical factory farm in North Carolina eclipsed the amount of oil spilled during Exxon-Valdez. And there's virtually no infrastructure to handle the massive amounts of shit that these farms produce everyday.
Is ignoring the reality tantamount to accepting it? Does buying meat at the supermarket make me complicit in some sort of meta-social sin?
I don't know. And the question of eating animals can't be painted in starkly moral terms. There's a ton of social aspects to the issue. Am I really willing to redefine my identity and how others view me because I won't eat their food? Can my ego handle that? Am I comfortable rejecting offers of table kinship -- our most ancient ground for social exchange -- simply because I refuse to eat a factory-farmed egg?
I don't know.
But Eating Animals did help me make one choice. I'm giving up chicken. And I'm giving up eggs. Granted, I never really loved either. It's a small step, but since chickens are probably the most oppressed (and most chemically overtreated) animals out there, it's a good start.
Will I give up meat entirely? Only time can tell. But wrestling with the issue is, if nothing else, a beginning.

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