Beet versus meat: five things we learned about eating habits from Jonathan Safran Foer and Anthony Bourdain
This week’s debate on what we should be putting in our mouths comes from two extremes of the discussion: Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of Eating Animals, who argues that meat is murder, and Anthony Bourdain, author of Medium Raw, who argues that meat is murder—tasty, tasty murder. For 20 minutes on CBC Radio’s Q, the two slagged it out over whether it’s right or wrong to eat meat.
We listened to the discussion so you don’t have to. Here, a cheat sheet on what was said, so you can annoy your entire family at the Thanksgiving table. Spoiler alert: no one wins, and the discussion horse is beaten to a point where it’s pâté.
1) Bourdain avoids the trifecta of bad American cuisine—“the King, the Clown and the Colonel”—but doesn’t look down on people who eat it because it’s a convenient and cheap meal for people in lower income brackets.
2) Bourdain has never eaten dog because they’re “cute” and accepts being a hypocrite about it.
3) Safran Foer says most Thanksgiving turkeys are bred through artificial insemination and have never seen daylight, which defeats the purpose of giving thanks for the plentiful harvest.
4) This quote from Safran Foer is hilarious and incomplete (moderator Jian Ghomeshi interrupted him to end the debate): “We’ve become too used to the idea that something that comes between two buns…”
5) Safran Foer wants everyone to eat like “our grandparents,” saying that if we all did it, “Tea Partiers would be eating lentils just like me.”
5 thoughts on “Beet versus meat: five things we learned about eating habits from Jonathan Safran Foer and Anthony Bourdain”
Bourdain wins… hands down. Why, you ask? Because he is an actual chef, has travelled the world seeking all universal perspectives on food from a cultural point of view, and is not simply focusing on one point of view (as in the murder aspect), but focused more on how our entire world consumes food. Safran… stick to small veggie conferences and pleeeaaase don’t try to put out another book!
PS – I’m a vegetarian and support Bourdain, so please no criticism from the vegemeatarians
Bourdain wins because he’s a chef and a traveler? I really can’t fathom how being a professional chef gives you the trump card in this debate. I’ll concede that maybe there is something to his views on culture in different parts of the globe (I’m not entirely sure there is), but in our North American culture, Safran Foer is just as much an expert.
As for Safran Foer only focusing on one point of view, I must assume that you didn’t actually listen to the debate. He does not only point out the ‘murder aspect’, as you put it, but also talks about the negative environmental impacts of the meat industry and the detriment it has caused to human health.
JSF did not make the aggressive “meat is murder” argument. He pointed out that, whether they are vegetarians or meat eaters, the vast majority of people would not support the way animals are treated on factory farms. He didn’t seem to want a vegetarian vs carnivore debate, but rather a discussion about changes that need to be made in the meat industry that both sides would support.
AB pointed out that meat smells good, tastes delicious, and has emotional significance for a lot of people. Although I enjoy meat and agree with him on these points, I would have to say that JSF made the stronger case here.
In this debate Foer also stated that If people became aware of where their meat was coming from and started to buy ethically raised pasture raised meat then that would be OK. Yes, this would put more pressure on the small scale meat farmers to produce more meat which is why factory farming exists in the first place. But if North Americans would eat far less meat and pay more money for ethical meat – not only would it taste better and be better for us; but we would actually live healthier lives and be more thankful for the meat that we DO get to eat. Eating this way will also allow you to feel better about yourself knowing that the animal that gave its life for your plate led an infinitely better life than the ones on styrofoam trays in the supermarket.
JSF made the most logical of arguments. I doubt that many who would meet their meat would be able to eat it.
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