Awhile ago I mentioned picking up a few food-related books at the library, among them Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. I was skeptical because of its legendary ability to turn readers vegetarian, and as I began reading it I was unconvinced. I’m a Foer fan, but so far (I’m only a third of the way through) he just seems smug and arrogant. There’s absolutely no wiggle room: you either agree with him and give up meat, or you’re completely ignorant (and kind of evil). Seriously, he probably judges lions every time they take down a gazelle. His tone was really starting to annoy me.
Then, I had a dream about a turkey.
Now, like I told Adam, this could just be from spending too long on the ZooBorns site before bedtime. The site, which I discovered while filling out my NCAA bracket (clearly I needed to see a real bearcat), features baby animals from all over the world. There are palm-sized monkeys, muppet-like sloths, and over-the-top-adorable miniature donkeys. There’s a pig-like creature so cute it made me momentarily reconsider the deliciousness of bacon. And then there’s the Southern Ground Hornbill.
This is not a cute baby animal. I mean, I know all the people who care for the animals have to love them all the same, but this is the baby in the nursery that looks like an alien. Actually, it reminds me of one of those challenges on Top Chef when they all have to cook with strange proteins- this could easily have been one of the proteins (if it weren’t endangered). And instead of one of the fluffy, cuddly baby animals, this is the one that somehow made its way into my dream.
You see, the turkey in my dream wasn’t a big, proud, feathered turkey. It was a featherless adolescent that showed up in my apartment, as if it was my new pet. I didn’t know what to feed it, I didn’t know how to tell Adam about it and, most of all, I didn’t know how to keep eating meat. I was seriously planning a blog post in my head (in the dream) in which I admitted omnivorous defeat at the
hands pen of Jonathan Safran Foer.
Then I woke up, and all was right with the world.
It does make me reconsider Foer’s argument about companion animals. Our decision ‘to eat or not to eat’ is closely tied to whether or not a particular animal is a pet. My dream turkey was definitely a pet, and it made me immediately uncomfortable about the idea of eating poultry. So dream Alex (with a pet turkey) is vegetarian but waking Alex (pet-free) loves Popeye’s? Clearly, this ‘pet’ designation is completely arbitrary. I mean, I look at the capybara and see a mammoth guinea pig, i.e. a pet. I’m sure that people from other cultures look at a capybara and see lunch.
So maybe this dream has me thinking a little too much (or, for Foer, not nearly enough).
What do you think?