I want to like Michael Pollan ... I really do.
But while I'm inching closer, I'm still not there yet.
Pollan, the author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," was a guest last night on "Chicago Tonight," a local news program on PBS. He reiterated his well-known advice: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He also recommended not buying products that are widely advertised, as most of it is processed food.
I'm on board with all that. What I don't support is his view on animals. In "The Omnivore's Dilemma" he shot and killed a pig. Something about being able to murder the animal you're going to eat.
While he admitted last night that Americans consume too much meat, he made a point of telling the host that he's not a vegetarian. He recommends eating a bit of meat "for the flavor."
He repeated one phrase that irks me, regardless who uses it: grass-fed beef. A piece of beef doesn't have a mouth. It's dead; it doesn't need to eat. A cow, on the other hand, is the one who is eating the grass. So instead of "grass-fed beef," people should ask, "Would you like a piece of grass-fed cow?" And the answer, of course, should be no.
Despite the obvious differences between Pollan and animal-rights activists, I think it would serve our cause well to align -- not completely, of course -- with Pollan and other organic, "slow food," "whole food" proponents.
We have more in common with people like Pollan and chef Alice Waters than Big Ag does. We both detest factory farms, and we both support organic farming.
Last night Pollan ended the interview recommending people reduce their consumption of animal flesh, particularly for environmental reasons. He suggested abstaining from eating meat one day a week, such as having "Meatless Mondays," which animal-rights group FARM also advocates.
So while animal rights' and Pollan's views on animals differ, when it comes to fighting Big Ag and factory farms, an alliance with Pollan may be beneficial to our cause.
(Photo of Michael Pollan courtesy of ChicagoMatters.org.)