On the day that sees the launch of a new Philadelphia organization promoting "Veganism, Social Justice, and Respect for the Earth's Inhabitants and Resources," the Peace Advocacy Network, it seems appropriate not just to link to PAN's press release (I'm sure we'll be hearing more from them in the future), but to mention a new book with a similar goal.
Gristle, from The New Press, brings together essays from a wide array of people, including Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, Frances Lappe, Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, the granddaughters of Cesar Chavez and more, to look at the various ways eating meat, and the factory-farm system that produces it, affects our environment, our health and our social fabric. Edited by the world's most famous vegan, Moby, and Miyun Park, executive director of the Global Animal Partnership, the book makes a diverse case that Westerners need to re-examine a habit that has recently ballooned to planet-threatening proportions.
We had the chance to pose a few questions to Moby about the book, how it came together and how it fits with his artistic aims. Here is that exchange:
E2P: As co-editors, what was the division of labor between you and Miyun Park?
Moby: It all came together surprisingly smoothly. Miyun definitely did more of the hard work.
E2P: So why did you decide to call the book "Gristle?" A "trial by fire" to weed out non-serious readers?
Moby: Honestly, because we thought it was equal parts disturbing and funny.
E2P: In your ideal scenario, how does the average reader react to reading "Gristle?"
Moby: It's hard to say, as there's so much information in the book. My hope is that people stay informed and make whatever decisions work for them, as even cutting down on meat consumption is a great step.
E2P: Have you felt the need to soft-pedal the environmental angle recently due to the FAO's admission that the 18% they calculated for livestock's contribution to greenhouse gases may be off by a couple percentage points?
Moby: Well, many UN scientists actually think the number is quite a bit higher when all variables are factored in. A lot of scientists would put the number at 25%.
E2P: Have you been tempted to work more of this kind of message into your songs? After all, 'Animal Rights' (1996) doesn't seem to really be an album about animal rights.
Moby: Some people (Joe Strummer, John Lennon, Chuck D...) are great at writing issue-oriented or -inspired songs. I'm not. I've tried, but it's really not my strong suit.
E2P: Miyun Park says "This book isn't about veganism, and it isn't about bringing down the animal agriculture industry." So is animal agriculture OK after all?
Moby: The book is about presenting people with the facts and ramifications of factory farming and large-scale industrial animal production. What people do with the information is up to them. There are so many different types of animal agriculture, from the pernicious to the relatively benign, so it's hard for me to make any huge blanket statements.
E2P: If you're a "self-professed dweeb" as the New York Times said recently, did you consider it important to open the book with a he-man athlete's essay to get the whole meat=macho thing off the table right away?