I love JSF so much. His fiction, which I have discovered since being away, makes me laugh/cry/hold my hand over my mouth and then to my heart. I would strongly recommend Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They are beautiful examples of contemporary literature.
I read his latest, Eating Animals, about a month ago. In the middle of meat-laden, sausage-fest Finland, my stomach lurched and my mind raced as once again his writing drew me in, this time with exposing facts about the factory-farming industry of America.
I've never been a huge "I Love Steak" person, but have always eaten a fair amount of meat, and particularly enjoy a nice piece of fish. My mouth waters at the thought of Salt and Pepper squid from Yingers on Gouger St.
The problem is that for the most part, the nice piece of fish isn't really so nice. I know our standards in Australia when it comes to farming are no doubt better that beefy, porky America(ns), but the fact remains that a lot of the time, 'free-range' doesn't really mean free-range, whole species are being wiped out of the ocean for the purposes of putting a pretty piece of pink flesh on top of a ball of rice, and we're eating stuff that's been modified to benefit our tastebuds and our hip pockets at the expense of being strong and healthy as animals themselves.
And aside from this, the book really raised the question of why, really, we do it. JSF questions whether "because it tastes good" is reason enough to justify slaughtering animals. And it's hard to argue with this. I've really probably always known this, but to be honest, it's the social aspect of eating that is the main thing that makes the decision to say "No thanks" quite hard. And I do like a bit of the old being social.
But look, it's not great for me, animals, the environment, the trends of our eating in Western Society. And I just don't really need it in my life.
So there you go.