Author and Professor of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley
Con to the question "Should People Become Vegetarian?"
"I’m not a vegetarian because I enjoy eating meat, meat is nutritious food, and I believe there are ways to eat meat that are in keeping with my environmental and ethical values. I don’t make the decision to eat meat lightly. Meat-eating has always been a messy business, shadowed by the shame of killing... Forgetting, or willed ignorance, is the preferred strategy of many beef eaters, a strategy abetted by the industry. (What grocery-store item is more silent about its origins than a shrink-wrapped steak?)...
Meat eating may have become an act riddled with moral and ethical ambiguities, but eating a steak at the end of a short, primordial food chain comprising nothing more than ruminants and grass and sunlight is something I’m happy to do and defend. The same is true for a pastured chicken or hog. When obtained from small farms where these animals are treated well, fed an appropriate diet, and generally allowed to express their creaturely character, I think the benefits of eating such meat outweigh the cost. A truly sustainable agriculture will involve animals, in order to complete the nutrient cycle, and those animals are going to be killed and eaten.
That said, I have the ultimate respect for vegetarians and vegans. For they have actually done the work of thinking through the consequences of their eating decisions, something most of the rest of us have not done. My own examination of those consequences has led me to the conclusion that eating a small amount of meat from certain kinds of farms is something I can feel good about. But we all have to decide this question for ourselves, and different people will come to different conclusions, depending on their values."
Experts Individuals with PhDs, heads of government, members of federal legislative bodies, and individuals with graduate degrees and significant post-graduate involvement in fields relevant to the study of human diets. [Note: Experts definition varies by site.]
Involvement and Affiliations:
Contributing writer, New York Times Magazine, 1995-present
Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley, 2003-present
Series Editor, Modern Library Garden Series, 2001-present
Fellow, New York Institute of the Humanities
Member, Advisory Board, Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California at Davis
Member, Stegner Circle of Advisors, Trust for Public Land
Chair, Growing Green Awards Committee, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Contributing Editor, New York Times Magazine, 1998-1999
Contributing Editor, Harper's Magazine, 1995-2003
Executive Editor, Harper's Magazine, 1983-1994
Senior Editor, Channels Magazine, 1981-1983
Associate Producer, WOR-TV's Straight Talk, 1980
Associate Producer, Gateway Production's A House Divided, 1978
Assistant Editor, Politicks & Other Human Interests, 1977-1978