Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bookshelf: Jonathan Safran Foer (Part 1)

I don't even know where to start with this one. Let me begin by saying that I haven't actually finished reading "Eating Animals" yet. I'm only on page 171. I'm going to do a proper review once I finish the book and try to be objective but before that I feel it's only fair that I write a bit of a preface. I need you to know that you and I on even ground here because it seems that people see/hear that I'm reading this book and automatically judge me. I was sitting outside the laundromat on Saturday afternoon reading while my laundry was in the wash cycle. I had about 25 minutes to kill and it was sunny and warm outside so I sat on the bench, cracked open the flourescent green book (totally eyecatching by the way) and began reading. Not more than five minutes went by before a guy walking past took one look at the cover and asked, "Are you one of them vegans?" I laughed, first at the fact he'd lumped vegans and vegetarians together (there's a difference by the way) and second, just because I'm reading a book about eating animals does not necessarily mean I'm a vegetarian. I responded cheerfully, "No."
The thing is, I don't consider myself to be a vegetarian. On Thanksgiving I love having turkey (especially the dark meat), when I go to restaurants I often order something with chicken, beef or seafood, and when I dine at friends' homes I eat whatever they're serving because that's what Miss Manners would say to do. I do not, however, eat pork or ham. The reason? I could never eat Wilbur. I dream of a having a farm someday with tons of horses, a few miniature horses (because they are adorable - have you seen the utube video of Einstein???), maybe some goats, sheep, and at least one pig, maybe two.

Fun fact: pigs are as intelligent, if not more, than canines, but you wouldn't eat Fido, would you?
Fun fact #2: while considered taboo, it is legal to eat dog in 44 states.

I was fed ham and pork as a toddler, but once I was able to voice my own opinion I quickly put an end to my grandmother force-feeding me hotdogs and ham. I also don't eat lamb or duck, and I once was served a cornish game hen at a wine tasting and politely declined. It had been deboned but was still in bodily form and I just couldn't fathom stabbing it with a fork and putting it in my mouth. I love shrimp, lobster, fish, sushi, sashimi, clams, mussels, squid, though I don't care much for oysters. I don't care if they're supposed to be an aphrodisiac. They're just too... squishy.
So no, I am not a vegetarian. Sometimes I crave meat, like the beef I had once in NYC that literally melted in my mouth, or the sashimi I had in Hawaii, or my uncle's turkey at Thanksgiving, which is never dry and always has great flavor. But I'm a walking contradiction because I'm probably one of the biggest animal people you will ever meet.
Growing up we had all manner of animals come through our house whether for a night or a lifetime, from an owl (it was abandoned by its mother during a storm and we took it to a bird rehabilitation center), turtles (2 box and 3 snapping turtles until they grew to be too big - snapping turtles are not something you want to cuddle up to), bunnies, parakeets, hampsters, cats, a dog, geckos, not to mention the family of deer and single bear that have crossed our lawn on many occasions.
I give money to the WWF from time to time (http://www.worldwildlife.org/). I am on occasion ($$ permitting) an equestrian. You will rarely (if ever) find me at a zoo, aquarium or places like Sea World or Barnum & Bailey's Circus. They make me sad and upset and I don't support their cause. I have a very soft spot in my heart for the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN because I think what they do is absolutely amazing (http://www.elephants.com/).
I swam with wild dolphins off the coast of Kona, HI a few years ago and it really changed my perspective on sea life. Drop yourself in 50 feet of open ocean with a pod of thirty wild animals and we'll see how you feel when you get out. I can't even put the experience into words. So obviously I think what the people in Taji, Japan do is horrific and unacceptable.
The long list of shows I dvr includes shows like Animal Cops Philadelphia (to which my sister always says, "Why do you watch this stuff? It's depressing!") and Whale Wars. And if you've read this blog from the beginning then you know that I cry uncontrollably while reading/watching books/movies like Marley & Me, Merle's Door and The Horse Whisperer.
Also, I volunteer every other week at a cat shelter. I got involved a year ago because I wanted to help out with something in the community just so I could feel a part of something and Pets In Need was the first organization I stumbled upon.
http://animal-adoptions.org/

So now you can imagine how much of a contradiction I am between the love of animalia and devouring meat as if my life depended upon it. I can't really call myself unbiased then, can I?
Regardless, when I finish "Eating Animals" I will try my best to give you a great review. I've got exactly 100 pages to go...

xoxo
~Stephanie
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