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“What we know about eating animals is that we don’t want to know.”

November 20, 2009 2 comments

This quote comes from Elizabeth Kolbert’s thoughtful review of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals in The New Yorker. Foer’s book is getting a ton of publicity, it seems, and it is a very exciting time for vegans like me. By virtue of his hipster-approved novels and his combination of intellect and youth, Foer has shown that he has the power that many vegan freaks wish they had: the power to get more people to pay attention. I could blog about modern food problems until I was blue in the fingertips, and so could the rest of the vegan blogorazzi, and none of us would have the influence that he has. I am very happy to see it happening, but book tours and press junkets end after a while. We will have to see if interviews on Ellen Degeneres’ show and reviews in The Onion and New Yorker will merely start the conversation, or actually create a new movement towards veganism and vegetarianism. I hope Foer’s book is coming at the right time.

I want to believe that there are a lot of people out there who have thought a bit about the source of their meat. The sad thing is that most people choose to believe that if a burger can legally be sold to them for a dollar, everything with the system must be fine. These people do not choose to think about the power of corporate influence, the economics of how meat is created so cheaply, or maybe even the fact that a cow had to live a short horrible life so they could get a little salt-induced dopamine spurt. Like Kolbert said: “What we know about eating animals is that we don’t want to know.” Those who don’t want to know probably will not be part of the conversation. They are often the same people who say that eating meat is a god-given right and pleasure, or reduce the whole argument to “I have canine teeth, therefore I am supposed to eat meat.” Argh, it bugs me to think about the ignorance, so lets move on. Ignore the ignorant.

So, what about the people who do want to know? This is where we can get some hope from Foer’s book. There are potentially millions of new vegan converts out there, right? I mean, there has to be. Modern grocery shoppers increasingly care about organics, food-born illness, fair-trade, etc… So why not animal rights and corporate justice? For me, the biggest reason to go vegan was, and probably always will be, the satisfaction of removing myself from a system that repeatedly deceives us and corrupts everything it touches. To me, the food/agriculture industry is more evil than any of the bailed-out bankers, Big Tobacco, or Big Oil. I imagine there are a lot of people that hate being lied to as much as I do. Hopefully this book will make more veggie-leaning thinkers out there take the next step and do the right thing, just like Natalie Portman did (she became vegan after reading it).

I am simultaneously excited and frustrated by the transparency provided to us by the information age. The internet and investigative journalism should be giving us the truth that all the evil corporations are trying to hide. Unfortunately, that promise of transparency isn’t living up to its potential. Until our society at large decides that it is important to know where our food comes from, we cannot expect a high enough level of snooping around by do-gooders to make a difference. This is why I believe it is important to read (and buy) newspapers and magazines that do a good job. Those passionate journalists can’t find the dirt if they don’t get paid for it; at least not as effectively. This is also why I plan to read Eating Animals as soon as I manage to scrounge up the money.

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Interview with Director Robert Kenner

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Interview with the director of Food, Inc. Robert Kenner. If I could, I would get a copy of this DVD for everybody I know for Christmas, or just for them to have. The DVD is available now. I would also recommend the companion book and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma if you are into things like truth, fairness, knowing how the food industry works, and pulling aside the corporate veil that hides all those things. The movie is really well done. Like Kenner says at the beginning of his interview, it is not for the extremist or even the vegetarian. It is a film for people who are curious about food, and who are interested in knowing the truth.

Jonathan Safran Foer is a Vegetarian

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

foer

The author of Everything is Illuminated has a new nonfiction book out called Eating Animals which explores vegetarianism. Foer recently adapted an article from that book to contribute to the New York Times‘ food issue of it’s magazine. Read it here.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s website.