I have been meaning to create a segment on KKonnect that introduces new music/books/film and more to the KKonnect readers. This will be a “Currently reading/listening to” sort of section. Many readers are familiar with Korean music/tv and other forms of entertainment so I won’t always talk about Korean things. However, I will do my best to tie in what I have to say to Korean culture. For my first entry, I would like to introduce our readers to a book I have had on my shelf for a while but have only recently got around to.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a must-read for anyone who is interested in knowing where their meat comes from, how it’s prepared, and the history of the industry that handles the food we eat everyday. I have been a vegetarian for almost two years but I learn something new from every page I read. It is not Jonathan Safran Foer’s or my goal to convert anyone to vegetarianism/veganism (perhaps I will write an article on that later), but rather, persuade people to question what they eat. The morals, the nutritional value, the economics, and much more. For over twenty years I would eat fast food every week or turkey on Thanksgiving without giving my plate any sort of thought. The food was in front of me so I ate it. This is completely normal, it is what we are used to doing. Foer’s book goes into detail about this and why the world, especially countries that consume a lot of meat (e.g., the USA and South Korea).
Originally I was afraid to take on this book. I was already (and still am) a vegetarian, but I wasn’t looking forward to read a 260 page essay on animal ethics. I started reading a couple weeks ago when my summer break began and I have to say, the book is more than just essays. It’s entertaining and enlightening. Foer talks about his grandma who survived the holocaust and how that has affected his eating habits. He also writes about tagging along with an activist for animal rights and breaking into a “farm” – not the kind with the red barn and tractor (which by the way is a rarity these days) – but the kind where most of our meat comes from, a factory farm. There are letters he puts in his book that were submitted to him from pro factory farmers and those against it.
Okay, so I have written enough about the book to give you an idea of its content (and I applaud you for getting through this far). You may now wonder, “But why read it?” or “What does this have to do with Korean culture?” – both of which are great questions. I read this book because I have always cared about animals, I loved my dogs, hamsters, and all the other pets I have lived with or seen at the zoo (or in the wild). I think this same sentiment is shared globally. However, we still eat them, and we always have. In America, almost every dish we have consists of some kind of meat or animal product, whether it be chicken, beef, eggs, fish, or lard. In South Korea, meats like Kalbi, Bulgolgi, along with dishes and soups have meat as their main ingredient. It’s near impossible for most to even consider eliminating these things from their diet. Coming from someone who is half-Korean and have-Caucasian – coming from a human being, let me just say, it’s not an easy thing to start doing. My mother often forgets that I’m vegetarian, and it is difficult for the both of us because I would love to eat the food she makes (bulgolgi especially), but I think she is beginning to understand me now.
Eating Animals is a step in the right direction for anyone who cares about how we treat animals, and how we treat our own bodies. I do not think ignorance is bliss, but it is the status quo. You don’t have to give up meat to read this book. In fact, at the very least, you will become more compassionate for other living things. Then maybe, just maybe, you will think twice before biting that burger.