Moving Toward Vege-Veganism

By Mary Hofmann

Eating Animals, by Jonathan SafranFoer, envisions a Passover without meatand provides compelling reasons why weshould consider moving toward becomingvegetarians/vegans in our scary newworld of factory “farming.”

While Michael Pollan (Omnivore’sDilemma and Food Rules), Mark Bittman(Food Matters), Alan Weisman (The WorldWithout Us) and others aren’t as straightforwardin drawing parallels betweencurrent human behavior and the roots ofcompassion for all creatures that originallyled to kashrut, a Jewish thread certainlyruns through much of the current literatureurging us to change our ways of dealingwith Mother Earth.

Food has been much on my mind oflate. My grown granddaughter Vanessahas been a vegan for several years and mydaughter Cathy recently became one aswell, despite her husband’s voraciousappetite for meat. Her little ones still eatthe occasional chicken, but I see thewriting on the wall. Cathy is fearless as acook and creates fabulous dishes…in fact,her vegan challah was an amazing hit atservices (and the Jews in Merced, neverhaving had access to store-boughtchallah, have been spoiled by four ofthe best challah bakers in California for30 years).

Eating meat has worried me for years,and the more I learn about modern methodsof ‘growing” and “harvesting” meat, themore concerned I become. While othershave certainly exceeded Foer in describingthe brutal methods of meat manufacture,I believe he has been most persuasive inforcing the reader to face his/her ownemotional feelings…our ease of denialafter years of seeing “meat” as a separateentity from “cow” or “chicken,” and ourability to ignore that which we don’t haveto watch. Perhaps it’s because Foer, anovelist, speaks to me as a reader ratherthan to the world as a reporter, that I’mputting a plan in place.

Coincidentally (for me, at least), theReform Movement, always a force insocial action, is also looking at meatconsumption as a moral issue…at least interms of amount of consumption, if notcessation. But that’s a first step I took along time ago.

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