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Tim Ellis
09:50 AM on 11/10/2009
I like the comparison with environmentalistm and flying planes. Looking at vegetarianism as a worldview through which one strives to make posivite choices, rather than a binary challenge that can be failed in one bite, is an interesting take on the problem. Perhaps it's not for everyone, but I can see how it would help me in trying to give up meat. For that, and for an article well done, thank you.
10:34 AM on 11/10/2009
Just don't eat factory farmed meat. Eat grass fed, free range, humanely raised animals. There are more growers all the time. There large areas that are not suitable for agriculture that are suitable for grazing around the world. You won't find more nutrient dense food than meat. Our ancestors survived and thrived on meat allowing this species to evolve and thrive. They ate meat and fat fist followed by vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. There are no true vegetarians among primates or larger animals. There are great amounts of insects, eggs, larvae, insect parts attached to the vegetable matter that supposedly vegetarian animals eat supplying necessary nutrients not found in the plants. 10% of a grazing cow's diet is normally insects etc
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09:48 AM on 11/10/2009
I was initially skeptical about the impact of agriculture on greenhouse gases, but after reading a lot about it, the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

Having said that, there's no way I'm gonna give up meat. I only live once, I don't want that one life to be devoid of chicken wings and bacon and medium rare ribeye steaks. Just isn't gonna happen
10:05 AM on 11/10/2009
How do you know you only live once? What if your next several lives you get to be the cow or chicken? Maybe the pig will get to taste your bacon next time around.
Brendan H
10:22 AM on 11/10/2009
Only having one life doesn't sound like a good reason to give yourself heart disease or cancer.

I want to live my one life too, for as long as possible, and as healthy as possible. Considering the low incidence of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes amongst vegetarians, I think I'll stay away from the meat.
09:46 AM on 11/10/2009
Folks living in New York can do even more. Pending before the Assembly Agriculture Committee is A.08163 ( a bill to ban hen battery cages, veal crates and pig gestation crates on New York farms by 2015). The bill is hung up in the Agriculture Committee because the Chair of the Committee (William Magee) opposes it. He is a beard for big agriculture and the New York Farm Bureau, a lobbying organization dedicated to protecting the profits of New York's medium and large CAFOs and other agribusiness interests. To learn more about the Bill, go to

If the citizenry in New York does not make its voice heard, the bill will die in Committee. Powerful interests are eager to protect their profits and maintain the status quo. New Yorkers (and others like Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Dan Barber, Alice Waters) should take a stand. New Yorkers should reach out to their assemblymembers and demand hearings and a vote on the bill. The moment is now!

Rick Tannenbaum
The Hilltop Initiative
10:49 AM on 11/10/2009
Thank you..... I'll call right now!
We've only got the one planet, don't screw it up.
09:42 AM on 11/10/2009
It will be VERY hard for me to give up eating meat.
I used to be a vegan, but one day I craved a beef burrito, and have been on the dark side ever since....
I know that the amount of energy used to create just one pound of beef is enormous, but it's SO delicious...
I try to eat free range organic beef, and poultry when I can, but it ain't cheap...I also eat wild game...the difference between venison or wild boar, compared to store bought beef or pork is like night and's like...after eating it, you actually feel energized and kinda happy...
Sounds weird I know...
Ok..all that said...I'm eating less meat, and more veggies...and I'm not eating as much seafood anymore, even though I live in the sport fishing capital of the world...kinda hard to say no when someone hands ya a bunch of live lobsters...
09:56 PM on 11/10/2009
I sympathize...but I really think you need to learn how to make delicious "meat like" veggie foods!

Really! We don't just eat veggies! Every day I need veggie protein, something fullfilling and satisfying. You can make delcious vegan food you just got to a) get a cookbook and b) get acquainted with new recipes and foods.]

You don't have to be deprived, really!
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"You can't fight in here. This is the War room!"
09:41 AM on 11/10/2009
Some have said that if God didn't want us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat.

If we viewed all animals the way we view our pets, I doubt many folks could grill one.

...on the other hand, there're plenty of twisted people out there.
10:07 AM on 11/10/2009
A benevolent God who supposedly wants us to eat animals wouldn't have given them the ability to feel pain.
We've only got the one planet, don't screw it up.
10:18 AM on 11/10/2009
Ok seriously?
By that logic then, predatory animals should go veggie.
The ability to feel pain is a survival mechanism...
even the most basic life forms have some type of pain reaction.
09:59 PM on 11/10/2009
Yes! And a benevolent God would not have animals cry out in fear, pain and want to run away just so we can eat meat.

There is a reason why slaughterhouses are tucked away from view because there is something within us that knows it is horrible, wrong, sickening, mean....

It's not the way we were supposed to live.
We've only got the one planet, don't screw it up.
10:16 AM on 11/10/2009
If I were starving, and couldn't get more food any other way...d@mn right I'd grill someone elses Fido.
I don't think I could eat my own dog though...
Cats on the other hand...I hear they taste like chicken ;)
11:05 AM on 11/10/2009
Oh, here we go with ye olde Excusitarian's

"If I were ________________ I'd kill and eat my dog"

09:40 AM on 11/10/2009
People are unconscionably self-centered. There's nothing really necessary or even helpful about eating meat, there's really nothing difficult or onerous about becoming vegetarian. There is something unbelievably cruel and toxic inherent to factory farming. We are near extinction, boiling the planet and ourselves in our own waste. Jonathan Foer's attitude of "soft negotiation" is coming from a good, soft, typically liberal approach to rectifying one of our greatest threats to the environment. But for every Foer, there's twenty Anthony Bourdains, ghoulishly celebrating their taste for carnivorous gluttony as if it were a right embedded into the constitution. We will either grow up or die.
06:46 PM on 11/10/2009
"There's nothing really necessary or even helpful about eating meat."

It is fascinating how many vegetarians make statements of opinion as though they are statements of fact. This statement is not fact. I agree that there is something unbelievably cruel and toxic inherent to factory farming. However, this statement also applies to all industrial agriculture and not all animal pfoods are supplied through industrial agriculture. Factory farming is not an adequate argument for giving up meat. It is a very good argument for giving up foods of all kinds produced by factory farming and mono-crop industrial agriculture.
The way of truth & love has always won ~ Gandhi
09:40 AM on 11/10/2009
Beautiful article, Mr. Foer.

I've been a vegetarian for 25 years and am now a vegan which is still, even after a year, a process.

I read John Robbins harrowing "Diet For A New America" 20 years ago and have never been the same since. Once one is clear about the truth of animal flesh, one will never touch it again.

But John Robbins struggled with dairy before becoming a vegan. His reason was a touching one. He is the son of the founder of Baskin-Robbins and he remembered his father coming home every night with a new flavor of ice cream for the family. So he associated dairy with happiness and love. But he also noticed that his father and uncle died at early ages: 48 and 51 I believe. As he began to investigate diet, he realized they had eaten animal flesh and dairy all their lives and their arteries were clogged and their hearts gave out. It was another reason why he became a vegan and wrote this amazing book that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

I associate cheese with my parents because they loved it and so did I and I remember many happy hours spent eating cheese! Anyway, now I've cut cheese out of my life, and dairy altogether.

The more I know about the agonizing cruelty, devastating pollution to the Earth and water supplies, and diseases that come from eating animals, then not eating animals is for me, the only sane choice.
09:34 AM on 11/10/2009
Great post jonathan - your arguements resonate with me. am in the process of reading 'eating animals' . My journey has been - a little surprisingly - the opposite of yours. I ( and my wife ) had been a strict vegetarian until my son was born. When he was 3 weeks old he was diagnosed with allergy to milk, eggs and later on nuts. When he was weaned we started him off on soymilk - but I started getting conflicting reports on the long term effects of an abundance of soy including from his nutritionist. And it seemed that any attempt to introduce a reasonable quantity of protein in his diet resulted in it being from soy. So when he was around two we started him off on chicken and fish and he has been having them for the last 4 years. He did have and even now occasionally asks questions about killing of animals but for the nonce has not connected it with pain and food. That we cannot lead consistent lives has always troubled me - there is a solution I think ( in Hinduism ) but it involves a complete renunciation of the what we are accustomed to as normal human lives.
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09:33 AM on 11/10/2009
The last time I ate red meat was in 1985 and I don't miss it at all what made me stop was when I was told how long it takes meat to digest and how the animals are fed hormones--the process in which animals are treated and slaughtered was enough to turn me off forever including the by-products and sodium.

This a great read.
06:50 PM on 11/10/2009
I completely agree about the hormones and other chemicals in factory farmed meat. However, the idea that meat is difficult to digest or takes a long time to digest is a myth. It is another of those lies repeated often enough that it becomes the truth. Muscle meat and animal fats are actually digested quite easily and quickly by the average human body. I do not eat animals raised with hormones or plant crops raised with chemical pesticides and fungicides for the same reasons.
09:31 AM on 11/10/2009
The Frenchman might refer to the Englishman as Roast Beef, and the Englishman to the Frenchman as Frog's Legs, but the one is (or was) proud of his Sunday roast as the very symbol of his country, and the latter is not about to give up his delicacy. There is comfort in numbers, which raises the whole question of whether and to what extent one 's values are shaped by the society one has grown up in. I have been a vegetarian, then, after pangs of conscience, a non-vegetarian (a carnivore if you will), and I am a vegetarian again. My attitude to animals and people is, "Live and let live," as much as possible. That includes not being censorious about meat-eaters. I came not to like myself eating meat. That was enough to make me change.
An Englishman once said to a waitress in Wyoming, "I don't like beef. What do you suggest?" She replied, "I suggest you get out of Wyoming."
Forty years ago, quite a lot of people might have thought vegetarians not quite right in the head. Those days are mostly behind us.
10:15 AM on 11/10/2009
Once I had to get a meal while passsing through Iowa. The only vegetarian item on the menu was a "salad," which was actually just a plate of iceberg lettuce, nothing else. It was almost unbelievable.
09:30 AM on 11/10/2009
This "all or nothing" idea is something I've been thinking about since I read "Eating Animals." Thank you. By the way, "Eating Animals" is one of the most powerfully influential books I've ever read -- I think it's going to make a huge difference.
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Wake up! It's 1984.
09:19 AM on 11/10/2009
Wow. What a great blog. That last paragraph is a keeper. That's exactly my approach to animal welfare and environmentalism. I can't be perfect, but I can do what I can. I haven't eaten an animal in 20 years and I don't miss meat. Eliminating all animal products is a little harder.
Capitalism vs Humanity
09:18 AM on 11/10/2009
Beautiful article. Thank you for helping us progress, one small step at a time, to a more ethical, environmental, and enlightened place.
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09:15 AM on 11/10/2009
Keep on educating people with your story. My own perilous health status led me to quit red meat, the result being that I felt better without it. The added info about hormones, factory farming, and the facts that cattle use too much feed and water, then produce global warming with their methane, sealed the deal.
Obey the Beagle!
09:06 AM on 11/10/2009
My wife's and my journey to becoming vegetarians was a process. First we cut out the red meat, then the fish and chicken, then, lastly, dairy. Each time we gave up eating a particular animal, our hearts and bodies rewarded us with contentment and better health. Sure, eating animal flesh tastes good but when you take the time to find out how animals raised for food live and how they die then look at the overwhelming body of evidence of the damage eating meat does to the planet and your body, those tasty memories fade.