I promise not to spend so much time talking about my personal eating habits in the future, but I just listened to this wonderful conversation between Anthony Bourdain, who is the host of my very favorite Travel Channel show, and Jonathan Safran Foer on whether or not we should eat meat.
You can listen to the discussion here, which I HIGHLY recommend.
Basically, Bourdain is about as meat-hungry as you can get- he has stated that it’s his reason for living. And Safran Foer is now making lots and lots of money for his recent book Eating Animals, in which he talks about all the reason he is, and we should become, vegetarians. The thing that made this talk so absolutely wonderful, however, is that there were very few things the two actually disagreed on. For that specific reason, this was one of the most informative talks I’ve heard on the subject. No one was angrily trying to prove that they, and they alone, were right and that their “opponent” was some horrible person. Instead, they talked about the real issue at the heart of all this: that factory farming, which produces 99% of available meat, is a very bad thing.
And I have to say that I almost 100% agree with both of them. They are really just two sides of the same coin. The message that one should take away from this conversation, the message that I think is what might save us, is that feeding ourselves should never be a throw-away, thoughtless moment in our day. It should be something imbued with conscious decision and never taken for granted.
I’m the halfway point between Bourdain’s meat lust and Safran Foer’s vegetarianism. I do lust after beautiful cuts of meat and dream of Spanish jamón, but I will only indulge when I know the provenance of the meat (where and how it was raised) or if, as Bourdain mentions, not eating meat would mean that I missed out on something of cultural significance. Which means that, more often than not, I eat like Safran Foer. But, where Safran Foer sees vegetarianism as his path out of the moral, environmental, and social murk that is industrialized farming, my path is actually to eat MORE meat than I have in years, which requires me to raise it myself. And, naturally, to share it with others.
ON EATING MEAT OUT OF POLITENESS OR ON CEREMONY
Safran Foer: “People sometimes say to me, ‘Well, we go to my grandmother’s house on Christmas and she makes this thing,’ and I say, ‘Well, then eat that thing, that’s a great use of food. The McNugget is not a great use of food. And if we can all just agree that we’re only going to eat meat when it matters, that we’re only going to eat meat when we really enjoy it, when we care, when it makes a difference, when it serves any kind of social function, that would be eliminating I think 80 percent of the meat we eat.”
Bourdain: “I will kill a pig and I will eat it. I will shoot an animal in the head and eat it. But I’m not doing it for fun, and I’m not blind to the circumstances and conditions in which animals are raised. I think there’s a lot of common ground here and we’re going to move, hopefully, toward the side of the angels.”