It isn’t everyday that we find ourselves nodding over a vegetarian screed, but Jonathan Safran Foer’s Against Meat in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine is an uncommonly honest piece of writing. Most importantly, Safran Foer acknowledges the cultural loss that results from giving up meat–and that that loss is not a frivolous concern. In the debate over eating animals, the fact that omnivorousness is not only about hedonism is rarely discussed.
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of sushi “lunch dates” with my mom, and eating my dad’s turkey burgers with mustard and grilled onions at backyard celebrations, and of course my grandmother’s chicken with carrots. Those occasions simply wouldn’t have been the same without those foods — and that is important. To give up the taste of sushi, turkey or chicken is a loss that extends beyond giving up a pleasurable eating experience. Changing what we eat and letting tastes fade from memory create a kind of cultural loss, a forgetting. But perhaps this kind of forgetfulness is worth accepting — even worth cultivating (forgetting, too, can be cultivated).