” I can’t believe how much we have in common. We’re both studying the environment, we’re both utterly humorless about our vegetarianism, and we both love the Rolling Stones. Yes, not For their music, but for their tireless efforts to preserve historic buildings.”
This book is Lisa Simpson and Hugh Parkfield in a nutshell. Because eating animals is wrong. So horribly, horribly wrong. In Simpsons arcana, the episode that follows this one establishes that Lisa is in fact a vegetarian, but that episode finds Apu horrified at Lisa’s willingness to consume animal products, resulting in the realization that while you can find the choices of others wrong, it isn’t your place to cast judgement upon them.
Ya listening, Foer?
Many of his arguments are persuasive, and I truly hate factory farming. But a) not everyone has the luxury of choosing what they eat based on morality (his anecdote from his grandmother aside, “if nothing matters, what is worth saving” isn’t gonna keep most starving people from eating a burger if it’s not a matter of their religion), b) the problem with gray areas is that lines delineating black from white start to seem arbitrary (yeah, I’d eat a cow or a pig or even a bunny, but not a cat or a dog – I just don’t look down on those who’d eat what I wouldn’t), but that isn’t necessarily an point in favor of extremism, and c), most frustrating in the current political climate, unless everyone gives up meat tomorrow, it’s a drop in the bucket against factory farm conglomerates. The American People can’t even get basic healthcare for themselves, or slow down a rush confirmation of a supreme court justice a large majority think shouldn’t go through until after the election. We can’t do shit.
You want to help animals? End corn subsidies. It will keep the animals fed grass once it’s cheaper, which will lead to happier healthier animals, and takes one component of farming as monopolistic business out of the equation. But that doesn’t allow you to look down on others for eating meat.
It’s also mildly infuriating that Foer makes family central to his argument against eating animals, but he and Kraus had a fairly public split that may or may not have been emotional-infidelity related, which makes the line “if nothing matters what is left to save” ring differently years later.
From the book: “saying that meat eating can be ethical sounds “nice” and “tolerant” only because most people like to be told that doing whatever they want to do is moral.” Agreed. But that shoe fits just as well on the other side; failing to recognize that others have different priorities, morality, or just plain don’t have the energy to fight is just as blinkered.