An article in Salon.com about Eating Animals might persuade many people to read the book and/or reduce or eliminate meat consumption.
But reading through the article with a critical vegan eye, I can see a problem.
Jonathan Safran Foer wrote:
“These little daily choices that we’re so used to thinking are irrelevant are the most important thing we do all day long. An enormous and very destructive force — historically, it’s unprecedented how destructive our farm system is — has taken over America and is starting to take over the world. And unlike so many other horrible systems, this one doesn’t require electing a new government or raising billions of dollars or fighting a war. It can be dismantled just by people making different choices.”
Where he gets it wrong: He’s right to encourage people to think of their daily habits as powerful actions. (Go vegan, do it now!) But JSF is wrong when he goes overboard to suggest that all it will take to “dismantle” factory farming is a change in consumer demand.
- Reduced consumer demand can and will significantly reduce supply, but…
- Many meat-eaters don’t actually have a true choice. These meat-eaters are children in public schools, patients in hospitals, people in prison, people on assistance, and others who rely on care-givers to supply them with meals. They don’t have a choice in the matter, if they want to live they must eat what’s offered. And what’s offered? Why, it’s cheap, surplus meat, rejected by consumers who have a true choice.
- Many more meat-eaters don’t feel like they have a choice. Even though rice and beans are an excellent, cheap, readily available substitute for meat, current consumers won’t believe or accept that fact. They feel like rejecting factory farming requires spending their whole paychecks to buy faux meats or “humane” meats. They simply can’t imagine life without some kind of meat. For them, beans and rice won’t cut it. Forget fresh veggies from farmer’s markets, they won’t even eat the bean burrito at Taco Bell instead of the Big Mac… they just won’t. Others have the money, but still won’t spend it on vegan options. They feel trapped by habit, taste, tradition, budget, education, culture, time… whatever, but the point is they feel trapped. They don’t feel like they can make an ethical choice.
- Therefore, in order to truly change the inherently cruel, environmentally destructive, and hazardous to human health factory farming system of meat production, we have to work harder. We have to do more. We have to work to allow all humans a truly free choice and/or we have to work to reduce supply through other methods.
Our personal choices are not enough. If you care about animals, the environment, and human health, not only will you go vegan, but you’ll work harder! Our individual consumption choices are the beginning, but they won’t be the end of factory farming.
How will you work harder? It’s entirely up to you, but here are some suggestions >>