*title of the latest book by Jonathan Safran Foer
‘When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own’.
As I told a friend of mine the other day, I’m considering vegetarianism for the 3rd? 4th? maybe the 5th time? And this time I’m quite determined to stick with it. This is not merely the result of reading Foer’s book, but of recent events and serious considerations.
Facts I learnt from Eating Animals that you all should know:
1. ‘Free-range’, ‘organic’, and the similar words producers throw at you don’t mean squat. It should provide no more peace of mind than ‘all natural’, ‘fresh’, or ‘magical’. They literally mean the animals get ‘access to the outdoors’, which is nothing. ‘Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by-five dirt patch – and the door is closed all but occasionally’. Yes, that’s ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ for you.
2. 99% meat we eat comes from caged animals, which come from Frankenstein-like genetic stock, which suffer their whole life, and die a painful inhumane death.
3. They all are fed antibiotics as their daily diet. They have a lot of diseases. Factory-farm-related diseases pose a serious danger to humans. So next time antibiotics don’t work for you, you know why. And swine flu? And bird flu anyone?
4. Vegetarian diets are appropriate for any individuals during all stages of the life cycle, meet and exceed requirements for protein and have a long list of health benefits.
I’m not saying we all have to turn vegetarians, but if we eat meat, we should do so with our eyes open, and not try to ‘forget’ where it came from. ‘Eating Animals’ forms a valid story-based argument toward making informed decisions about what we consume, and taking responsibilities for our choices.
Let me quote Foer because he puts forth the argument so eloquently:
The global implications of the growth of the factory farm, especially given the problems of food-borne illness, antimicrobial resistance, and potential pandemics, are genuinely terrifying. India’s and China’s poultry industries have grown somewhere between 5 and 13 percent annually since the 1980s. If India and China started to eat poultry in the same quantities as Americans (27 to 28 birds annually), they ALONE would consume as many chickens as the entire world does today. If the world followed America’s lead, it would consume over 165 billion chickens annually (even if the world population didn’t increase). And then what? Two hundred billion? Five hundred? Will the cages stack higher or grow smaller or both? On what date will we accept the loss of antibiotics as a tool to prevent human suffering? How many days of the week will our grandchildren be ill? Where does it end?