Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meat and me

Over Christmas break, I read a few books. By far the best was Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I read it primarily because I love Jonathan Safran Foer. I mean, I even love his name. It sounds sacred. It all started with his other book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It's definitely in the top 3 books I've ever read (tied with East of Eden and The Razor's Edge). It's a book that's written beautifully, chock full of beautiful moments and phrases, and characters that nearly break your heart. My favorite quote from it is a little letter. A girl asks everyone she knows for a letter. Not about anything, just to write. Here is the one her dad writes her:
You asked me to write you a letter, so I am writing you a letter. I do not know why I am writing this letter, or what this letter is supposed to be about, but I am writing it nonetheless, because I love you very much and trust that you have some good purpose for having me write this letter. I hope one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love.
Your father
Isn't that beautiful? Imagine 300 pages of that. So after reading that I wanted to get my hands on any book by him I could get my hands on. Which was, of course, Eating Animals.
So I read it. Not because I wanted to know more about the meat industry, or because I was looking for an excuse to become vegetarian, or even because I care about animals. I read it because I wanted to read word Jonathan Safran Foer had put together.
And what do you know, I stopped eating meat. Although it took me several weeks to use the word vegetarian, because it's a rather daunting adjective. Once you call yourself a vegetarian, you look like a coward or hypocrite if you ever eat meat again. I honestly didn't think I would last this long, but I'm a month and going strong. So here's my announcement:

I am a vegetarian.

Why? Well think about it. If I were to say to you "I've got a movie or a book about the meat industry." What would your (or anyone else's) response be? Probably something along the lines of "I don't want to see it. It'll gross me out." And as much as people want to pretend it's the killing or the blood that makes them feel sick, we know it's not. We don't want to have to face the disgusting reality that is dinner. Isn't that crazy? Americans are choosing to look away, to remain ignorant, because they know that when faced with reality, they'll have to change. People complain about Domino's pizza sauce not being made with real tomatoes, but not about their turkey's being genetically altered to the point they can't naturally reproduce.
So that's why I went vegetarian. I'm not opposed to killing animals. If you want to raise a turkey and slaughter it yourself, please invite me over for Thanksgiving. But I'm not interested in eating a mutant that grew to full size in 40 days in a cage so small their talons grew around the wiring. No sir, that's not for me. I'll stick to carrots and hummus thank you very much.

Ps. http://www.treehugger.com/galleries/2009/05/what-does-inside-factory-farm-look-like.php?page=10

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