Quitting Meat: Process Of Change, Jonathan Safran Foer

When it comes to meat, change is almost always cast as an absolute. You are a vegetarian or you are not. It’s a strange formulation

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Excerpt from Huffington post article by Jonathon Safran Foer, 11.11.09

…I wonder if more of the difficulty doesn’t come from the ways that we talk and think about change. When it comes to meat, change is almost always cast as an absolute. You are a vegetarian or you are not. It’s a strange formulation, and it’s distracting. (Those who profit from animal suffering and environmental destruction want us to think in dichotomies, rather than practical realities.)

Imagine someone asking you, “Are you an environmentalist or not?” For most of us, caring about the environment isn’t an on-off switch, but a set of daily choices that we try to respond to as best we can. I buy energy-efficient products, and turn off lights when leaving a room, and recycle and so on. But I also fly on airplanes. Does my occasional flying completely undermine my identity as someone who cares and tries? Should I, faced with my inability to live consistently, make no efforts to live better?

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Obviously not. We don’t live our lives on the inside flaps of philosophy textbooks. We live in the world. And in the world, everyone is a hypocrite. In the world, change is not a switch but a process. Being serious about changing requires a certain amount of forgiveness. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t draw lines in the sand, or that we should be quick to accept all of our own apologies.

But if animal welfare matters to us, if the air and water matter, if swine flu and E. Coli matter, if global warming matters, if biodiversity matters, if rural communities matter, if our ability to tell honest stories to ourselves and our children matters… then we shouldn’t be distracted, intimidated or misled by someone else’s idea of purity. We should begin at the beginning, and begin now.

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