Make way for…

The other day I got a call from a reporter for the Huffington Post, who wanted to talk to me about my book. Because it was the Huffington Post, I got the sense that she wanted me to be as controversial as possible. I doubt I lived up to this expectation; usually when I try to be controversial, I fail miserably. For example–and this is not a joke–I once wrote a column that I was sure would be total flamebait. It was about treasury bonds.

Anyway, the reporter asked me whether I’d heard of the book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, a children’s picture book about vegetarianism and factory farming. I said I hadn’t. She asked whether I would mind if Iris read the book. I said, well, I’m not going to bring it home from the library, but if Iris comes across it and wants to read it, I’m not going to try and stop her, either.

Iris was lying on the couch reading a (different) book, and she said, “WHAT? WHAT BOOK?” After I got off the phone, I explained that it was a book arguing that people shouldn’t eat animals.

“But I love crispy duck leg,” said Iris, and went back to reading.

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7 thoughts on “Make way for…

  1. Glenn Fleishman

    I have tried to inculcate in my children the contradictory ideas that we must treat all living things with kindness, even tiny bugs (maybe even microorganisms?), but that it’s perfectly fine to eat animals if they were raised with kindness.

    Cognitive dissonance is a worthwhile thing to sow. My kids may decide that even kindness doesn’t justify eating other thinking creatures (or their products), or that if we’re being “natural,” omnivores have eaten all kinds of things for a hundreds of millions of years.

  2. Laura

    Duck cracklings are the reason, among many, that I could never be a vegetarian. Sooo good.

    I’m curious, though, how Iris would feel about the book. But just the same way that I don’t tell my daughter she MUST eat meat (which she’ll hardly touch), I also wouldn’t dream of telling her she MUSTN’T.

  3. Mark Dominus

    I got a lot of email after I wrote that vegetarianism article. I was expecting the usual complaints from the Internet parent squad about how I was ruining my kid, and I did get those. But I also got a ton of vituperative mail from non-vegetarians calling me all sorts of filthy names for daring to suggest that there might be any legitimate ethical issue involved at all. I was not expecting that.

    My conclusion is that these people are all feeling guilty and defensive. If they really felt it was a non-issue, they would no bother to reply at all. Nobody who really believes what they are saying can write “There is absolutely no ethical issue here, you filthy scumbag!”

  4. margie

    I commend you for actually teaching your daughter about food ethics. It stills floors me that people seem to believe that meat magically grows in little styrofoam packages.

    I still remember the first time I caught a fish, gutted it, and ate it. Taking the time to appreciate the life – however ‘primitive’ – that I’d taken was a powerful and valuable experience, and I try to remember that every time I’m purchasing, cooking, or eating meat.

  5. nomitai

    A former teacher was having lunch with her intermediate school students one day when one of whom offered her a slice of pepperoni pizza. “I’m vegetarian,” said my teacher, declining. “But pepperoni’s not meat, it’s just . . . pepperoni,” was one student’s reply.

  6. Mark Dominus

    I once offered someone a bite of my liverwurst sandwich. “No thanks,” she said. “I don’t eat mammals.”

    “Liverwurst is not a mammal,” I said. “It is a nematode.”

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