Friday, April 23, 2010

Eating Animals

Eating AnimalsI am grateful to have read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. I really enjoyed his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, and was thrilled to find out he had written a new book about food and the harsh realities of factory farming.

That said, Foer is basically advocating a vegetarian diet rather than a vegan one. He mentions veganism here and there, but never really argues for or against it. It is reminscent of his own indictment against Michael Pollan, who (in case you didn't already know this) is one of the reigning champions of ethical (i.e. family farm-raised animals) eating. Foer argues that Pollan is not seeing the whole picture by rejecting vegetarianism. What I find interesting is while Foer briefly mentions the horrors of factory farmed egg facilities (like what happens to baby male chicks in factories that only need female chickens), he does not go on to suggest Americans stop eating eggs.

Okay, done with the criticism. What I really appreciate Eating Animals for is its focus on fish and seafood. Now, I love shrimp. This is the one animal that I was reluctant to give up eating. And I've always considered fish and shrimp to be sub-par creatures, somewhere around the level of plankton or snails. Pre-vegan, eating a hamburger would sometimes prick my conscience. But eating shrimp never did.

Here is a quote from Foer:

"The average shrimp-trawling operation throw 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures overboard, dead or dying, as bycatch. (Endangered species amount to much of this bycatch). Shrimp account for only 2 percent of global seafood by weight, but shrimp trawling accounts for 33 percent of global bycatch. We tend not to think about this because we tend not to know about it. What if there were labeling on our food letting us know how many animals were killed to bring our desired animal to our plate? So, with trawled shrimp from Indonesia, for example, the label might read: 26 POUNDS OF OTHER SEA ANIMALS WERE KILLED AND TOSSED BACK INTO THE OCEAN FOR EVERY 1 POUND OF THIS SHRIMP" (Foer 49).

Wow. Thank you. I don't feel entitled enough to order that Kung Pao shrimp, after all.

I do wonder if there's a good non-shrimp substitute out there, however. I've seen fuzzy pictures of such things on other vegan blogs. Apparently you can get this at Asian grocery stores, which I haven't found so far, but to be fair, I wasn't looking very hard, and only went to one store. I did find a can of fake scallops at our local co-op. I don't remember the brand, but I did a happy dance in the aisle even though 1) I never really ate many scallops to begin with and 2) the can cost eight dollars! Needless to say, I did not buy the eight dollar can of fake scallops, but I was glad to know it existed, just in case I have a raging case of scallop-munchies in the future.

I did have a weird craving for chicken last night. Ironically, it happened because I was talking to my husband over dinner, telling him that I didn't crave beef or chicken at all. Then I started thinking about chicken sandwiches, particularly the kind you can get from Chick-fil-a ... luckily we were going to Whole Foods after dinner, which is where I picked up this:

Cluckphrey patties! I've never tried this brand of fake chicken before, but I like Food for Life's Ezekiel english muffins, and yes, I also bought it because I like the name 'Cluckphrey.' I look forward to trying a patty next week with some hot sauce. I will let you know what I think.

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