On Bittman and Being an Animal Welfare Person

The Providence Journal just published an interesting and pragmatically oriented profile of Mark Bittman, covering his efforts to reform America’s disastrous eating habits. Plenty of good stuff here, but this Bittman quote deserves a response:

I’m not an animal welfare person.

Oh, but he is. He is certainly not an animal rights person, but, like most Americans, he’s very much an animal welfare person whether he will cop to it publicly or not. That’s because anyone who is not emotionally dead on the inside cares about animal cruelty and wants to prevent it. And sincerely caring about animal cruelty is all it takes to be in the animal welfare camp.

Bittman is OK with animals being killed for food. But he’s as passionately opposed to E6 Cattle style cruelties as the staunchest vegan.

There are certainly influential voices in the food movement—Anthony Bourdain, Tom Philpott, and Michael Pollan—who rarely seem the slightest bit willing to discuss animal welfare issues. But, in Bittman, vegans have an ally when it comes to animal welfare—no matter how he categorizes himself to a general audience.

When at long last Americans demand that obscene crowding and overt cruelties be eradicated from America’s food supply, that will be the end of factory farming as we know it. Americans will still eat meat, but it’ll be much more expensive and they’ll eat a lot less of it. It’s going to take a wide range of people working together to bring about this societal shift, and Bittman is doing as much on this front as anyone. Link.

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