As a part of the South Granville YYoga Book Club, I recently read Eating Animals by Jonathan Saefran Foer. While not his only focus, Foer writes extensively in this book about the modern means of meat production – a.k.a. Factory Farming.
Reading stories about how abused animals are in the factory farming process, I finished the book feeling that factory farming is morally equivalent to genocide.
In addition to the mistreatment of animals, animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined. And, factory farming practices carry incredible health risks – with H1N1 originating in a North Carolina pig farm and 98% of American chicken being infected with campylobacter or salmonella at the time of consumption.
The stories of abuse, destruction and threat seem endless.
And, it is overwhelming.
But, I’m writing today in an effort to prevent, to move through, paralysis and to foster an appreciation for doing something being worth something.
For many people, the thought of switching to a vegan diet to avoid the consumption of animal products produced in inhumane ways feels impossible, undesirable, and extreme. I have allergies to wheat and dairy, and the thought of voluntarily removing another group of food items from my diet feels unhealthy, limiting and isolating.
But at the same time, holding the reality of what is involved producing most animal products isn’t compatible with freely indulging all my carnivorous desires.
So where is the middle ground?
For me, the middle ground is letting doing something be enough because I’m not prepared to do everything right now and because doing something is so much better than turning a blind eye to the atrocity that is factory farming.
I want to share some of my ideas for small steps – and I’d love to hear your ideas.
- Start a conversation about small steps people can take to do something to address the issues arising from factory farming
- Eat smaller portions of meat (and other animal products) and commit to never throwing any away
- Avoid eating at large fast food chains (like McDonalds & KFC) that play a large role in creating an unsustainable demand for meat
- Cultivate awareness by asking restaurants where their meat products come from
- Give up meat for a certain number of days in the week. The idea of being a vegetarian on the weekdays is popular (omnivore on weekends), but maybe that is too extreme for you. Try 1 day or 2 days.
- Give up eggs. Chickens who produce eggs are some of the most horribly abused animals in the system. (And, if you buy “free-range” or “cage-free” eggs, do some research to make sure you are really getting what you paid for.)
- When you buy meat, remember that relative to inflation rates factory farmed meat is ridiculously cheap – and pay a more appropriate price for meat more humanely raised and slaughtered