Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Catherine Friend on The Compassionate Carnivore

In advance of her upcoming event at the Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church on Wednesday, April 30th, we asked the Hit by a Farm author to talk a bit about her new book, The Compassionate Carnivore.

Humans have been eating meat since our ancestors began the fairly creepy practice called kleptoparasitism. Basically, we’d let the more skilled predators like lions, leopards, and other clawed beasts chase down and kill the prey, then after some hard-working panther had stashed his dead gazelle in a tree, we’d climb up and steal it.


Luckily, our meat now comes so neatly packaged in shrink wrap that we can easily forget we’re eating an animal. But then about 30 years ago those pesky animal rights activists began chanting “Factory farming is bad for animals and eating animals is bad.” The only part of that mantra that stuck in my head was “eating animals is bad,” but since I wasn’t going to give up meat, all I acquired was a healthy dose of guilt about my cuisine.

As a farmer who raises meat, I like that people keep eating meat. But as one who cares about animals, I’ve come to the really uncomfortable conclusion that those unrelenting activists were right about one thing: Factory farming is bad for the animals.

So what’s a carnivore to do? Are there any choices between giving up meat entirely and assuaging our guilt with a 16 ounce prime rib, medium rare?

I think so, which is why I wrote The Compassionate Carnivore, Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald’s Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat. The book looks at animals, their lives, why those lives are worthy of our consideration as meat-eaters, and how we might change our meat-eating habits to reflect that.

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