Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Natalie Portman Comments on a Provacative New Book

I'm linking to this article for two reasons. First, it is because Natalie Portman is involved, and well...you know. Second, it is because the book she is recommending, Eating Animals, was written by a relative of mine, Jonathan Safran Foer. I may have met Mr. Foer when I was a child, but I don't remember. I think he is a second or third cousin. I guess you could say we are not especially close. I read one of Foer's earlier books, Everything Is Illuminated, and found it complicated, but interesting. I have not read Eating Animals yet. Either way, here are some quotes from Portman on the book:

"The human cost of factory farming -- both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals -- is staggering. Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic, whose story has gripped the nation, in factory farms."

"But what Foer most bravely details is how eating animal pollutes not only our backyards, but also our beliefs. He reminds us that our food is symbolic of what we believe in, and that eating is how we demonstrate to ourselves and to others our beliefs: Catholics take communion -- in which food and drink represent body and blood. Jews use salty water on Passover to remind them of the slaves' bitter tears. And on Thanksgiving, Americans use succotash and slaughter to tell our own creation myth -- how the Pilgrims learned from Native Americans to harvest this land and make it their own."

"I say that Foer's ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile. But he reminds us that being a man, and a human, takes more thought than just "This is tasty, and that's why I do it." He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore's Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don't believe in rape, but if it's what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it)."


T. Paine said...

I have no problem with vegans and vegetarians. That is a choice they are free to make. I doubt that they will ever be enough of a force to change the ways of those that wish to eat meat, even that which is farm-raised.

Also, for the record, Catholics believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is not just a "representation" of him in the bread and wine. Just wanted to clarify... :)

Dave Splash said...

I will defer to you on the Catholic issue, as I have no idea. Like I said in the post, I have not yet read the book, so I don't know exactly what he is prescribing. I tried to be a vegetarian a few years back due to a woman I was seeing. Now that I am single (and cannot cook to save my life), it is really hard for me.

In my case, I lost weight and just felt better in general when I was not eating meat. I'd love to get back to it, but need a veggie girlfriend to make it happen.