No two books have changed my life quite so much as, first, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and a year later, The Qur’an.
I picked up the former at Heathrow Airport, and by the time my flight landed I had decided to stop eating meat.
My decision wasn’t based on the idea that eating meat was inherently wrong (although I know people who feel that way). I became vegetarian because Pollan’s book convinced me that the way factory farming raises, contains, feeds, medicates, and slaughters animals, and then distributes their meat, is completely unethical.
There seems to be no single area untouched by factory farming.
Environmentally, meat requires massive energy consumption, immense landmass to grow soy or feed corn, and the meat industry pumps tons and tons of nitrates and other chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico making way for poisonous algal blooms and “dead zones.”
In terms of labor, meatpacking remains one of the most physically dangerous and dehumanizing industries in America.
But it’s no surprise that laborers are poorly treated, considering the abysmal care for the animals themselves. [Read more…]