Monday, February 28, 2011

REVIEW: "Eating Animals"

"Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer is a fantastic book with critical information presented well. The author doesn't overload you with statistics and figures, and writes with a very easy to read style that flows well - resulting in retention of important facts that he uncovered in his research. Could you imagine a label on a pound of shrimp that says "26 pounds of other animals were killed for each pound of this shrimp"? That's a tremendous image.

His discussion of fish revealed a lot that I did not know about the industry - and added to my recently acquired information The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi recently. What was particularly highlighted to me was that there is absolutely no requirement for humane killing of fish.

There are also no standards for chickens, turkeys and pigs. The author uses great images to convey information about numbers of animals and their confinement.

As a vegan for 5 years, a vegetarian eating fish only occasionally to rarely for the previous 10, and only eating "white" meat when socially compelled or required by personal relationships for the previous 20 -- I rather thought I was doing my part. I write a food blog that provides recipes for friends and strangers, feed everyone I know, help provide information about how to eat compassionately and do what I can to support others in this choice. After reading this book, I am thinking that perhaps that isn't enough - though there are so many problems in the world, one might think that working to educate people about veganism is low on the list of priorities.

However, if you look at it like this - 1/3 of all available surface land on our planet is dedicated to animal agriculture, and 30% of global warming is due to animal agriculture. This doesn't even address issues of pollution & contamination caused by animal agriculture or the devastation of species diversity in the ocean.

If our increased demand for more & cheaper animal flesh as food products is one of the largest leading causes of the destruction of our planet - what sort of legacy is that for future generations? I think the future generations can live better without a steak, hamburger, ham or turkey if it means more equitably distributed nutrition and less disease - and a better, more well fed, happier & healthier planet - for all animals, including humans. Now I just have to figure out my role in all this better than just changing my own diet and encouraging folks in my limited sphere of influence.

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