Sunday, April 03, 2011

Book: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

I would highly recommend reading this book. Jonathan's research is thorough and the reasons for not supporting factory farming are so compelling that I could not ignore and felt an urgency to encourage people to be more responsible for their actions. 

Below are some quotes from the book:

Animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause of climate change.

Someone who regularly eats factory-farmed animal products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning.

The first time I was exposed to farming issues was when a friend showed me some films of cows being slaughtered. We were teenagers, and it was just gross-out shit, like those “Faces of Death” videos. He wasn’t vegetarian – no one was vegetarian – and he wasn’t trying to make me one. It was for laugh. We had drumsticks for dinner that night, and I couldn’t eat mine. When I held the bone in my hand, it didn’t feel like a chicken, but a chicken. I always knew I was eating an individual, I suppose, but it never hit me before.

Before child labor laws, there were businesses that treated their ten-year-old employees well. Society didn’t ban child labor because it’s impossible to imagine children working in a good environment, but because when you give that much power to business over powerless individuals, it’s corrupting. When we walk around thinking we have a greater right to eat an animal than the animal has a right to live without suffering, it’s corrupting.

Sick animals are more profitable (than raring healthy ones). The animals have paid the price for our desire to have everything available at all times for very little money.

KFC chickens are almost always killed in 39 days. They’re babies. That’s how rapidly they’re grown.

People say ‘What’s the big deal if the animal can’t walk or move, ‘cause it’s just gonna get killed anyway?’ If it was your child, do you want your child to suffer three years, three months, three weeks, three hours, three minutes? A turkey chicken isn’t a human body, but it suffers... what each person has to ask himself. How much suffering will you tolerate for your food?

When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.

One study found that roughly 4.5million sea animals are killed as bycatch in longline fishing every year, including roughly 3.3m sharks, 1m marlins, 60k sea turtles, 75k albatross and 20k dolphins and whales.

“For me, factory farming is wrong not because it produces meat, but because it robs every animal of every shred of happiness. To put it another way, if I stole something, that would weigh on my conscience because it would be inherently wrong.” – Vegetarian Rancher

So what kind of crime is animal agriculture, which uses 756millions tons of grain and corn per year, much more than enough to adequately feed the 1.4billions of humans who are living in dire poverty?

Try this thought experiment: Would you castrate animals without pain relief? Would you brand them? Would you slit their throats open? Most people won’t do these things. Most of us don’t even want to watch them. So where is the basic integrity in paying others to do these things for you? It’s contract cruelty to animals, and a contract killing, and for what? A product no one needs – meat.

Martin Luther King wrote “one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular.” Sometimes we simply have to make a decision because “one’s conscience tells one that it is right.

We know that there is something that matters in a deep way about the lives we create for the living beings most within our power. Our response to the factory farm is ultimately a test of how we responds to the powerless, to the most distant, to the voiceless – it is a test of how we act when no one is forcing us to act one way or another.


ssumin said...

So free range animals are fine?

Boon said...

Sumin: According to the book, some of the free range animals farming are marketing gimmicks. The living conditions of those "free range animals" aren't much better than those caged animals.