Tomorrow I am going to post my review of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Before I really began reading this book, I wrote down my views on eating meat at that point and my own personal history/struggle with eating animals.. They have changed due to the reading of this book, but I will discuss that with my review. So here is me as of January 2010:
Currently, and for the last two years or so, I have become a partial vegetarian. I gave up beef and pork but I still eat poultry and fish. And I still eat dairy. People are very confused about the line that I’ve drawn even though we all draw a line somewhere. Even the most hardcore carnivores among us would turn their nose at a serving of dog, right? My line is actually much clearer: no mammals. But somehow this puzzles people even more than straight vegetarianism.
It was a long road to get to this place and I fully expect my place on the vegetarian-carnivore spectrum to change in the future. I grew up in a meat and potato family. Every night. My dad once bought half a cow and a freezer to store it in. It was 1995 when I first questioned eating meat (I actually grew up down the street from a veal farm and somehow managed to not understand what all those baby cows were for until I was in my late teens. I think if I had known, I would have become a vegetarian at an early age). I was in 7th grade which meant reading A Day No Pigs Would Die, dissecting fetal pigs, and the theatrical release of Babe. This combination led to my renunciation of pork for almost 6 years. I even wanted a potbellied pig as a pet (and convinced my Grandpa to get me one at a 4-H fair but my mom caught him just as he was about to exchange money with the seller). I’m sure there were some instances during that period that I ate pork, but they were rare. And I went on random no beef diets from time to time as well. When I was 13, I went to South Africa and we were served all kinds of exotic meat. I ate the giraffe and the wildebeest but still refrained from any pork. I was a pretty committed kid even if I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it.
And then I went to college and started dating my now-husband. In college, I ate what was given to me because I had no money. I often ate the vegan meals in the cafeteria, but outside of that dorm, it was a no-holds-barred diet. And Ben loves his meat. He got me to eat steak which I had never really liked and to eat it pretty consistently. So for the next period of my life, I really wouldn’t refuse any kind of meat.
And then one day, I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. I stopped eating beef for 3 reasons: (1) the environmental impact – if you can’t give up your car, the next best thing to do is to stop eating beef; (2) the world hunger impact – the amount of food we give to a cow to feed one person could feed 10 people if we gave it to them directly; and (3) the cruelty issue – the part of my conscience that had been nagging me since 7th grade finally took hold when I saw a news piece about a “farm” abusing its cows. I gave up pork too because it made sense to do together and even though I ate it, I never really liked it and I still think pigs are adorable.
Throughout all of this, I consistently ate poultry with a few caveats. I won’t eat at KFC because of its cruelty issues. Same with Tyson chicken. I can send you all video links if you want but will not subject anyone to them in this post unasked. I tell people I want to be a vegetarian but I’m just not ready to take that step. If I lived on my own, I might do it sooner. And if I cooked more often I might do it. But those are my excuses and I have to live with those choices until the day I decide to be a vegetarian. And then, of course, I’ll have to consider the next step of becoming vegan (but how I would miss my ice cream!). And I’ll always have to consider going back to being a regular, old, meat-eating American.
This is all my way-too-wordy explanation of my state going into Eating Animals. I wanted to post this first because it would be too lengthy to do in a review and because I wanted to do it before my thoughts were tainted by the book.
Look for my review tomorrow.