Discussing his new book Eating Animals, newly converted vegetarian Jonathan Safran Foer tells New York Magazine that he didn’t appreciate Anthony Bourdain’s tone during a recent Larry King segment in which they debated the question “Is Meat Safe?”
“We were backstage in the green room and he was saying factory farming is the worst blight in America right now,” says Foer. “In fact, I’d say he agreed with everything in my book. Then we get on the show and he says he thinks humans are designed to eat stupid little animals. Now, that annoys me. I find that disappointing — that his shtick is much more important to him than what he knows to be right.”
Actually, if you play back the tape, Bourdain seemed pretty penitent during this part of the back-and-forth:
That said, we may be designed to eat meat. We are not designed to eat fecal coliform bacteria. I think the standard practices of outfits like Cargill and some of the larger meat processors and grinders in this country are unconscionable and border on the criminal … I think certainly we could eat better in this country. It would probably not be a bad thing if we ate less meat, if the ratio of animal protein to vegetables changed along the lines of the Chinese model.
That’s certainly a different tact from previous statements like, “I don’t think the personal health and purity of my colon is that important compared to pleasure,” and “as a chef, I’m not your dietitian or your ethicist.” We wonder why Bourdain didn’t go far enough for Foer — can’t a man like meat while also disliking factory farming?