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Transcript of TOK Presentation
-Mark Bittman Emotion, and the lack thereof, allows us as humans to domesticate certain animals for food, and others for companionship. (e.g. the pig and the dog) Michael Pollan notes that there is a sense of "table fellowship" derived from eating meat, seen as many as a strong vote against vegetarianism. (e.g. Thanksgiving)
This also ties into the idea of meat being a deeply ingrained part of our culture. Both Franz Kafka (vegetarian) and Abraham Lincoln (not a vegetarian) had famous episodes of compassion for animals wherein each man felt shades of pity and shame for these so called "lesser-beings." According to a study conducted by the United Nations and the Pew Research Center, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 percent more than the entire transport sector is responsible for. More than 250 million male "layers" are destroyed every year - tossed into plastic containers to suffocate, sent through macerators, sucked through pipes onto electrified plates. On one plate of sushi, seemingly small in scope, can hold thousands of other lives - lost via "bycatch." (not "by accident") Shrimp trawling operations result in 26 lbs of other sea animals thrown overboard, dead or dying, for every 1 lb of shrimp harvested. Typical cage for egg laying hens allows each 67 square inches of floor space, less than the size of a sheet of printer paper. In this day and age, less than one percent of meat produced for human consumption in the U.S. comes from privately owned "family farms." Two generations ago, virtually all farms were "family owned," though now, this is not the case. The "inherent" problems with a vegetarian lifestyle - cost, accessibility, time - are based in the fact that food culture is a predominantly omnivore-centric realm with accommodations to non-meat eaters seen as a catering to a very specific, niche way of life.
In the U.S, we choose to eat less than .25% of the known edible food on the planet, with our factory farming industry having grave consequences for society. While our food culture is ultimately dictated by tradition and societal perceptions, individual choice can change that. Sources: Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and, 2009. Print. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print.