I read Working Undercover in a Slaughterhouse: an interview with Timothy Pachirat at BoingBoing today. Right before I went for my morning run, actually.
Normally when I run, I think about what I want to work on, writing-wise. Or if I really get in the zone, I just sort of let the music wash around between my ears and don’t think about much of anything. But today, I couldn’t get that interview out of my head.
Not because there’s anything particularly shocking about it. Really, it’s less graphic than excerpts from Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma that talk about slaughtering chickens, or portions of Temple Grandin’s books. There’s nothing overtly disgusting, and it’s not a brutal expose of industrial filth or unusual animal suffering.
But I guess that’s the thing that really stuck in my head about it. That it was all very routine and business as usual. The interview is very much about the industrialization of violence, in this case violence against animals. And the way the many workers dissociate themselves from that violence by laying it all at the feet of the few that actually deal with the animals in the last moments of their lives. And as consumers, we’re even more in that dissociative boat.
It bothers me, and I need more time to think about why. This could really develop into a complex ethics monologue of the sort that I generally despise reading, so I’m not going to do that to myself or to you. But if it bothers me so much that twelve hours later I am still thinking about this, that tells me I have some mental dissonance that I need to resolve.
I like hamburgers, and I like steaks. However, I don’t know if I like them that much.
So I’ve decided for the next month, I’m going to go without meat and see how I feel. My plan is to go for the wussiest variety of vegetarianism out there, which is to say I’m keeping eggs and dairy, and I’ve already admitted to myself that I love sushi too much to even consider giving up fish. But at the very least, I’m done eating anything warm blooded for the next thirty days.
We’ll see if I’m dying for a hamburger on April 8. Right now, I can’t really tell.