Saturday, March 20, 2010


Sometimes I feel guilty eating a hamburger and sometimes I don't.  It depends on the hamburger.  I don't eat them very much.  A few weeks ago I had one that was fairly terrible... this was at a place near the Farmer's Market... it was mediocre and terrible. And when I was done, I thought: Some poor animal got ground into tasteless gray chuck in order for me to meat that bland and mealy burger that just made me feel disgusting.  Its death was probably painful and brutal, if relatively quick, but its life must have been a nightmare of drudgery and pain... tedium... confinement... casual cruelty.  Animals suffer... they have no fewer nerves than humans doNatalie Portman hates meat-eating.  Today I had a delicious bacon avocado cheeseburger... really excellent as these things go.  I thought: Man, I wish I lived near this place so I could have these more often.  Then I felt guilty, thinking about the poor cow.  But the guilt felt distant, like I was seeing it in a museum.  Then I felt guilty because the guilt felt distant.  But I also thought: People have been eating animals, and animals have been eating animals, since there were people and animals.  There is nothing inherently wrong about it.  The industrial food complex is an ugly, ugly thing.  But there is nothing inherently wrong with eating animals.  I feel that I should, morally and rationally, become a vegetarian. But I do like to eat. I love it... I love it so much.


Little Miss Nomad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Little Miss Nomad said...

There is nothing unnatural about eating meat, but the way we Americans in the 21st century do it, by and large, is neither good for planet or ourselves. You shouldn't feel bad about yourself when you eat a crappy burger. You should feel rage at the people who disrespected that cow, at whatever point that became a bad burger.

Did you ever read Fast Food Nation, btw? That'll send you off meat fast. Foer, on the other hand, irritates me enough that I want to eat meat just to spite him.

Meanwhile, who cares what Natalie Portman thinks?

N A said...

I didn't read it. I don't eat meat all that often anymore, really. I do eat eggs a lot. Mostly these days I eat oranges and avocados.

Ian said...

The most intelligent handling of this issue that I've ever come across is in "Consider the Lobster," by David Foster Wallace. You've probably read this already, but it's a remarkable essay, and worth revisiting.

My wife and I actually stopped eating mammals (for the sake of integrity, I counted it wrong to eat anything I couldn't in good conscience kill myself, leaving fish/seafood in the "okay" column but everything else off limits) for a period of about two years; then, because my wife was pregnant and not gaining weight, we decided to go ahead and eat meat again. I've gotta say, the first beef I ate after my long hiatus--a Steakhouse XT burger from Burger King--was absolutely the most sublime culinary experience of my life. Since then, I've had a hard time giving it up entirely, the voice of my conscience not being as loud as the hedonistic urge of my palate.

Interestingly, though, my wife stopped eating beef during her pregnancy, because she had a dream in which our baby was born with a cow's head. Perhaps there are deeper cultural undercurrents at play, her being Hindu, but I still think it's sort of hilarious that this is the reason she doesn't eat beef.