Over the course of six months, I never expected my perspective could change so drastically. After reading many influential texts, watching many depictive films, and having a number of important conversations with my colleagues, I’ve come to a realization;
People choose to turn a blind eye on anything they don’t want to believe is true and aren’t willing to put any effort forth. Even I admit, I was one of these people, prior to Professor Leither’s Critical Thinking and Writing course. I knew some of the realities of factory farming. I’d seen the mainstream documentaries that have become commonplace in all middle schools and high schools across the nation. One factory-farming documentary that particularly caught my attention is Meet Your Meat.
How is meat still consumed if videos like this have been widely viewed by the public? The problem lies within everyone’s personal motivators. We all want what’s best for our own self and even if this means turning our head to the devastation that factory farming causes, then so be it. I believe the root of this problem lies in the fact that there is no dire need to stop consuming meat right this moment. The public consensus is that nobody should stop until it actually affects him or her personally.
While to some, thoughts about environmentalism lie deep in the recesses of their brains, to others this thought is more common. The active population of those who are working to make a change and to prevent things depicted in Meat Your Meat or just be more environmentally conscious is very minute. About seven percent of the US population identifies as vegetarian (Crawford). Although this may seem like a lot, there are many individuals out there that claim to be supporting the environment, when in reality they aren’t. “…Someone who regularly eats factory-farmed animal products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning” (Foer 59).
After months of discussion and analysis on topics in the realm of environmental concern and human choice, it became very clear to me where the problem lies. All humans have desires. For most Americans, a popular desire is meat. Furthermore, why do these individuals continue to consume meat products even if many are aware of their origins and the potential environmental harms involved in production? A recent survey I conducted with a group of Santa Clara University students depicts this phenomenon. When asked if they were aware of the fact that factory farming hurts the environment, over 55% (16 out of 29 respondents) reported that yes, they were mindful of this. With this in mind, why aren’t changes being made? Why isn’t meat being expunged from the diet of those who are aware of its impacts on the environment?
We must begin to look past our personal motives and think about things with broader perspective. The environment will continue to be affected at an alarming rate even though there is a simple solution; stop eating meat. As easy as this may sound, for Americans, it’s a tall order. If it doesn’t affect someone personally, then why should they make a sacrifice? I have come to realize that humans operate on a personal basis. The environment is not included in an individualistic thought. Therefore, it is removed from concern and left to the governing officials to deal with. We all must begin to take responsibility and open our eyes and minds to the eminent destruction of the environment that we as a population are ultimately causing. The facts are there, but our minds are not. Famous American Novelist, David Foster Wallace, highlighted this phenomenon perfectly in his speech, This is Water.
We all must become more aware of everything around us. While eating a burger may seem like such a customary and habitual action, in reality, it affects things beyond the scope of our surrounding environment. People must realize that their actions, compounded with the actions of so many others, have the potential to do great harm. Something must change, and it all starts with the individual. We must open our eyes and stop flouting the harmful affects of our engagements.
Crawford, Elizabeth. “Vegan Is Going Mainstream, Trend Data Suggests.” Foodnavigator. N.p., 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Meet Your Meat. Norfolk, VA :PETA Video, 2003. Print.
Wallace, David Foster. “This Is Water.” Kenyon College. 21 May 2005. Web.