Friday, November 30, 2007

Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy

When it was Lebewohl’s turn, he got up, noteless, and looked at the audience. “What am I gonna tell you?” he said. “My food will kill you.” Abe Lebewohl, Second Avenue Deli

This is an excerpt from Bill Buford's Heat, just re-posted by The New Yorker. The closest I have come to reconsidering meat-eating was reading this great writing. If I change my mind on being veg, I suppose the only way to go is by doing some slaughtering & butchering before eating. Being around some of America's greatest cooking didn't provoke a critical look at my eating the way that Buford's writing did.

When we made sausages at the butcher shop, people often ate the meat raw, straight from the bowl, which—I don’t know, call me old-fashioned—just seemed wrong. But it illustrated an attitude toward good meat: if you’re lucky enough to get it, don’t mess with it. Bill Buford

But how can I make my own kosher salami? And which way to the cardio ward? And won't I end up dead in Katz' with a pastrami sandwich stuck in my craw after this binge?

I become a vegetarian in 1979 (pescatarian by 1989) reviewing the evidence available to me at the time. Including IB Singer's statements on the matter. I picked the most progessive option available.

"When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent. I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it comes from God. If there would come a voice from God saying, "I'm against vegetarianism!" I would say, "Well, I am for it!" This is how strongly I feel in this regard." IB Singer

Nowadays, the picture is more complex, since it is not just a case of factory farming vs. tofu eating. Eating fish can, in some cases, be contributing to eco-ragnarök more than a burger who you knew back when he had a face.

The year before I became a vegetarian I was a Camus-carrying existentialist/fatalist, but hey, at 17 I was more idealistic than at 16. Today? I suppose I am keeping faith with that idealist even if I am often a tired would be cannibal.

Certainly the appeal of having a rabbi of some sort to declare what is kosher and what is trayf is evident when faced with the moral/health dilemmas of the flexitarian/locavore. I am presently staying with a Pareto-vore Solution: 80% of the moral and health issues are solved by eating from 20% of the menu! Or something.