You might want to think twice before you drink it. Jeffrey Moussaief Masson explains why in his new book, The Face on Your Plate, which I reviewed this week for Book World (or what’s left of it, although anecdotal evidence suggests that individual reviews do get more readers in Outlook, where much of the Post’s book coverage now runs, than they did in the late lamented stand-alone section):
Masson, a vegetarian turned vegan (no dairy, no eggs), wants us to call a chicken a chicken, not just chicken. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s OK to eat because said chicken was raised “humanely.” It probably wasn’t, as Masson describes in a painful chapter called “The Lives They Lead,” which talks about the cramped, unnatural, traumatized, diseased and short lives of broilers and egg-layers, dairy cows, salmon and other factory-farmed animals. And there are billions of them, all sentient creatures, all capable of suffering.
In the milk industry, for instance, unwanted male calves born to dairy cows are carted off to slaughter, often before they can walk. “The worst thing you can do is put a bawling baby on a trailer,” says Temple Grandin, the well-known autistic researcher who has worked with the meat industry to improve slaughterhouses. “It’s just an awful thing to do.”
In the same piece I wrote about The Foie Gras Wars by Mark Caro, an entertainment reporter for the Chicago Tribume:
If there is a culinary equivalent of shoe-leather reporting, our enterprising reporter has done it for this book. He toured the handful of U.S. farms that produce the stuff. He hung out with animal-rights activists who see foie gras as an easier target than, say, hamburger. He traveled to France to see gavage as it has been practiced on small farms for generations. While there, he took part in a “foie gras weekend” where guests eviscerated and dismembered birds and boiled the fatty, fleshy bits into potted treats. He ate foie gras mi-cuit, sliced on toast, whipped up with a dash of pig’s blood, potted in crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©es, even, in one chef’s misguided attempt at creativity, put through a cotton-candy machine.
You don’t need to be a vegetarian to conclude that some things just aren’t meant to be eaten.