Last updated on: 5/24/2011 | Author:

Michael Pollan, MA Biography

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.”

“Animal Welfare: FAQ & Useful Links,” (accessed Apr. 28, 2011)

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
  • Assistant Editor, Village Voice, 1974-1976
  • Reporter, Vineyard Gazette, 1973
  • MA, English, Columbia University, 1981
  • BA, Bennington College, 1977
  • Graduate, Mansfield College, Oxford University, 1975
  • Born in Long Island, NY, Feb. 6, 1955
  • Named to the TIME 100 list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010
  • Named as one of Newsweek’s top 10 “New Thought Leaders,” in 2009
  • His book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, in 2006
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should People Become Vegetarian?