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Monday, December 13, 2010

Jonathan Safran Foer: "Eating Animals" Video

You may recall that just a few months ago I did a blog post about Jonathan Safran Foer and his book "Eating Animals." To Jonathan the book is intended to begin a public dialogue about not necessarily being a carnivore or vegetarian/vegan, but about the third option, the "middle space" of simply eating less meat and being more aware of where the meat you eat comes from.

In truth if you're already on the path towards vegetarianism the book (and maybe this video I found on Youtube yesterday) will take you all the way there. If you're already a vegetarian and leaning towards veganism, the book may be the catalyst that makes you leave all animal products behind.
 IMO the video contains a great non-polarizing conversation about a topic that is often as divisive as religion or politics. This is the actual presentation I attended.

And if you eat meat it will make you think about the meat you eat. Where does it comes from? Is it healthy for you? How were the animals treated? And what is the baseline of decency we owe the animals under our collective care? Even those whose only purpose is to be eaten. He also answers questions like is vegetarianism healthy and is it expensive?

Particularly in the book he lays bare the reality that when most of us think of the word "farm" we envision pastures of green grass, a red barn, blue sky, sunshine, fields of grain and a farmer in overalls.... The reality is very different. The factory farms where cattle, pork and poultry are raised are closed to the public because if the public could see what goes on in them, most of us, even those who think they don't care, would be horrified, shocked and outraged by the conditions the animals are kept in and many would say we can't do it that way anymore.

Click on the Image to Enlarge

In the image above, beginning in the top left corner, is our perception of how chickens are raised. The reality is that 98% are raised in windowless warehouses crowded into tiny battery cages or packed "cage free" into open warehouses. Free Range only means outdoor access is provided, sometimes minimally so, not that the chickens actually live outdoors.

Understanding these differences may impact what you choose to eat or not eat, the way you shop and the way you vote. California recently passed legislation to outlaw battery cages in egg farming. This is a huge breakthrough in animal welfare and proves that our threshold of what is humane and inhumane isn't always impacted by cost. Knowing that banning battery cages would most likely raise the price of eggs, as a state, California went ahead and voted for the ban.

The best analogy I can give as to why I voted for the ban is to imagine choosing three random strangers that are the same gender as yourself and all of you stand in your bathtub together. Now imagine living in that bath tub, in a windowless room, with them for the rest of your life unable to stretch your arms and legs at will and not able to lie down to rest without being stepped on or laid upon. That's what life is currently like for the millions of chickens living in battery cages world wide.

I just found the video of the presentation I attended and wanted to share it. It's approximately an hour long, is informative and entertaining at times. If you're curious enough to watch it I think you'll enjoy it. In 2010 I can easily count the hour I spent attending this discussion as one of my most well spent of the entire year.

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