"The justification for eating animals and for not eating them are often identical: we are not them."
This line, for whatever reason, stood out to me as I've been working through Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. (Check out the website here.) I'm about halfway through, and was very hesitant to get this book--not because I was "afraid" of what I might learn (though I have learned some things from it, and the book has extensive references), but because I thought the book would be cute and mildly pretentious. (I don't know anything about Foer, haven't read his novels, but have this probably unfair image of him as a NYC literati hipster...hence my reservations.)
But the book is in fact quite good so far. The problem is that between this and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, there isn't very much left to eat on a daily basis that can leave one feeling very good. That is, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the thought that there's nothing one can do right when it comes to eating. (The butternut squash I purchased at the new Meijer store in Richmond today was shipped from Mexico; how much oil did that take? One might say: at least it didn't suffer during the ride...) When one confronts the problems with "industrial" food, whether meat or produce, it's hard to know where to start with righting one's own ship, at least until the local farmer's market opens in June...
I hope to have something more cohesive to say about Foer when I finish the book. I've been eating quasi-vegetarian (with some shrimp and fish--though fish is looking like a worse deal the more I read and learn) for several months, but I don't have strongly settled views about most of the subtleties of the "eating animals" debates.
But back to Foer's line above: what do you make of it? It's easy, perhaps, for the animal liberationist (say, Singer) to say that "we are not them" is a red herring (ha ha) (speciesism, etc.) when it comes to justifying eating animals, but is that right?