Eating Animals… or Not

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.

From another interview with Bourdain, Safran Foer, and famous chef Eric Ripert.

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.”


7 thoughts on “Eating Animals… or Not

  1. Pingback: Eating Animals… or Not (via Barnyard Bookworm) « The Slowvelder

  2. Thanks to Slowvelder for reblogging this great article. I subscribe to the belief that we are what we eat…..with wide ranging ramifications…
    The more that people discuss and think about this often emotive subject, the better.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I agree, we need to take that sentiment to heart a LOT more often.

      I also think we are HOW we eat: so many people choose to be blind to the fact that the meat they are eating comes from animals who were basically tortured their whole short lives, all in the name of “cheap” meat. These same people would NEVER personally treat an animal that way, but they feel that they aren’t guilty of the act because they didn’t do it personally. I believe that if you condone those practices by purchasing their products, you are guilty by association.

      I don’t say these things lightly or to make anyone feel like a horrible person. After all, I was one of those people at one point too. But I think it is morally (and environmentally and economically) imperative that people investigate where their food comes from. If they can live with the horrible treatment the animals receive, well, then they should be honest about that. And if they aren’t comfortable being a part of that system then they should take their food dollars elsewhere.

      (I know that some people will struggle to remove themselves from “the system” because of financial or availability issues, and I can’t fault them for that. We, as a local, small food economy, need to continue to work to make those issues disappear.)

      • Thank you for the thoughtful and well written post. I’ve recently started raising my own pigs and having a little trouble reconciling their cute little pink butts with bacon. Your post echoed some of my own questions of late. Thank you so much, I’m loving your site!

      • Thanks for the kind words! I’ve been a TERRIBLE blogger lately and haven’t updated in FOREVER. We’re in the midst of a huge remodel and I’m currently planning 2 weddings. Give me a few weeks and hopefully I’ll be back and have lots more fun and interesting stuff to share.

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