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Food writer and ethicist Michael Pollan has covered much of this material in his books, but as a conscious eater and compassionate occasional carnivore, he's more flexible; Foer, who favors a vegan diet, is more orthodox. To wit: "Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else?" he demands, in a prophetic-sounding tone, which echoes the rabbinic scholar Hillel. "If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn't motivating, what would be? If being the number-one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming), isn't enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?"
Good questions, all. I experienced visceral nightmares as a result of Foer's revelations of what goes on inside industrial slaughterhouses. Will I rethink my holiday dinner menus as a result? Beyond considering taste, obsession, and religion, I'll consult my conscience and let you know.
Diane Cole is a contributing editor of US News & World Report and author of the memoir After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at email@example.com, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.