Monday, January 28, 2008

Diet for a New America

I read this book by John Robbins a week or so ago. It's an older book but I fear most of what it claims has only gotten worse, sort of. What I mean is that this book deals with all the problems that have arisen due to the way we eat. I would not be surprised if the creatures born into the nightmare that is modern factory farms have it even worse off than when this book was written. But there has also been great strides in the other direction.We are slowly becoming aware of these problems and while we might not be solving the problem from the view point of the author, at least concepts like organic are finally part of our national vocabulary. This does not solve problems such as the water usage or land use efficiency. Water use is self explanatory, but it should be pointed out why the land use is critical. The US alone could feed every person on earth with our existing farm land if everyone ate a vegan diet. Its a passionate book and it forces you to take a hard look at what we consume. In the end I wasn't converted to a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I am forced to question myself every time I eat meat, is it worth it? Shit one night while reading this book I ordered some Chinese food, I couldn't bring myself to eat chicken while reading this so I ordered some bean thing, once it got there I realized that bean curd is tofu, and not all that good but it was spicy enough that it was ok. Unfortunately I wish they had done a little test reading with non-vegans, the idea is to try to convert people which is a noble enough goal in this case, unfortunately I got the distinct impression that the only people who had any editorial say were already in agreement. There was one part in particular where they lost huge credibility. It's a section talking about how kind and intelligent animals are. It annoyed me in that it kept making the assumption that most people think of animals as almost robotic automatons incapable of feelings or emotions. It also talked about souls which I'm not into but it was an understandable point. The one story that really stood out was about a naturalist who had quite the conversation with a pig. I could not have tried to use the quote and hold a straight face. Anyone willing to use the story without even a hint of skepticism is clearly a person heavily biased, for me this tainted the entire rest of the book. The worst part is that it could have been dropped without hurting anything. I would still recommend the book but like anything in life take it for what it is and be skeptical, just be prepared to eat a bit less meat.

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