Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Erik Marcus: Meat Market &

Just got back from dinner with Erik Marcus of followed up by his book signing in Pasadena.

Incredibly cool guy. Unbelievably passionate about his work and committed to changing the world.

Good combo. I like him.

Check out his new book: Meat Market: Animals, Ethics & Money. Buy a copy thru the link or cruise on over to a Borders to support a guy who deserves to be supported and to learn what's up with the abuse in the production of the meat our world consumes.

First of all, did you know we killed 10 BILLION animals in the US alone last year? Yikes. That number always blows me away...

His thoughts: There are a lot of compelling reasons to become vegetarian/vegan. The three major ones: nutrition reasons, environmental reasons & ethical reasons. His focus is on (and he thinks animal's rights activists' focus should be on) the ethics issue.

His big point: Our farms aren't what they used to be and animals are not treated the way they used to be treated. We now have factory farms. Animals are now commodities--not a whole lot different than scrap metal. The definition of a commodity is that it is essentially undifferentiated, meaning that, as a consumer, I'm just gonna buy the cheapest version of it. Now, if I'm the producer of these commodities, that means that I'm competing to deliver the cheapest price possible--and I'm constantly trying to shave a penny here and a penny there. If I fail to find ways to cut costs, I'll simply be driven out of business by my competitors who do find ways...

That's cool with scrap metal but when you cut costs in the production of animals, you're doing so at the great expense of animal welfare.

Imagine what happens when you commoditize and demand the reduction of cost to the production of animals, specifically to eggs as an example: Now, if my competitors can deliver an egg for less than 10 cents, I better be able to do the same thing. The only way I can do that is to pack as many chickens into the smallest space as possible requiring as little human labor as possible. Among the things you get in this scenario are chickens getting their beeks burned off so they won't peck at themselves and other chickens once they're put into battery cages so small they can never flap their wings their entire lives. Apply it to pigs and you get things like castration without anesthesia so you can save a few cents per, and real pleasant stuff like that.

My bottom line: animals are NOT commodities. They're sentient beings who should be treated with compassion. And, if we're going to consume them and their products, we should do so while creating the least amount of suffering possible. Our current system, is, in my opinion, disgustingly unethical.

I fundamentally believe that if more people had more awareness, they would, as consumers, DEMAND more humane treatment and be willing to pay more for that. I'm committed to raising people's awareness in this and all other domains. As it is, I refuse to contribute to the suffering and hope you'll join me in the effort.

Also: be sure to check out & for some other good stuff.

Thanks for all your hard work, Erik.



At 12:43 AM, Blogger Ryan G said...

Erik rocks. Actually I owe him an email...

I've listened to his podcast from day one and ordered the early printing of his important book. With The China Study (all about the health aspects), its one of the two most important AR/vegan related books published this decade, I would say. Erik was also there in the nineties with his Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating book of course.

Gary of the Animal Writings blog is in the process of writing a "book tour" of Meat Market that makes a great companion to it. See Part 1 here


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