An Interview With John Robbins On The Great American Food Machine
We call some animals pets and other animals dinner because our culture says that some animals are part of our circle of compassion and others are not. To some extent, an animal that is destined for human consumption is exempt from the laws restricting cruelty to animals. In other words, you can do anything you want to an animal as long as you’re going to eat it. There are Filipino communities in the United States whose members carry on their cultural tradition of eating dogs, and many people who don’t think twice about the treatment of veal calves find it very objectionable to see a dog treated that way.
The nurse leads me into the family waiting room, sits down on the couch beside me, and opens Mother’s chart. She says that Mother has congestive heart failure, a leaky valve in her heart, chronic lung disease, and osteoarthritis. In addition to this, the bone scan shows that the malignant melanoma on her back has metastasized into her pelvis, spine, and skull.
The prison van passed through the ratty grounds, by the crumbling remains of the 1820s cellblocks and a burnt-out station wagon. The afternoon’s thick heat had turned into a yellow evening haze. Bright razor wire had curled like Christmas tinsel along walls, culverts, corners of buildings, up power poles. The Hudson River glittered at the bottom of the hill. I’d been told the inmates were expecting a new teacher. I’d be “obvious” — my age and sex and suburban neatness all crowded into one word. The prison buildings sat stubborn, old, and impenetrable. I still hadn’t seen an inmate.
“This is 1448,” Alija said. “My very-great-grandfather Radmila. He was Serb, I think. His grandfather plant first seeds. This wine is ten years before Ottomans come, ten years before Islam. Some things I know from school, others from Islam. But I learn most from wine, and stones.”