Know what you’re eating

Danny Cozzi

Animal rights activists know all too well the struggle of trying to expose the dangers and moral issues of factory farming. I should know; I’m one of them.

At least that was the case until developments sprang up in the pursuit of raising awareness of animal rights issues.

Now, it’s even easier to realize respecting animals requires little effort on our part and has incredible impacts.

Whether you become a vegan or simply reduce the amount of meat you add on your plate each week, knowledge is the key to eventual change.

A Jan. 13 New York Times column by Frank Bruni provides one important discussion of animals. Bruni’s column doesn’t preach vegetarianism or faux-leather jackets.

He told us what’s happening in our society and how we view our pets and other animals.

“An era of what might be called animal dignity is upon us,” Bruni wrote.

Even though we treat our pets with as much love as our human families, we treat other animals with sharp silver knives and bubbling deep-fryers.

It’s the psychological and physical distance from farmed animals that makes that behavior so easy to write off as something “normal.”

According to a Jan. 24 report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 9.74 billion hogs were slaughtered in 2013 and 2.56 million cattle suffered the same fate by the time that information was published.

So maybe we’re not in an era of “dignity” yet. Rather, I’d say we’re in an era of promoting more awareness.

What matters to me here is for people to understand what they’re eating.

NIU Green Paws Environmental Alliance, an environmental awareness group, is pushing to have Meatless Mondays on campus to show the environmental and health issues that arise from producing and eating too much meat.

“It’s just an effort to increase your own health as well as improve … environmental impacts that come from raising meat,” said Green Paws President Erica Bray.

Green Paws will have a table set up from 12:15 to 4 p.m. Tuesday in DuSable Hall to gain signatures for a petition for Meatless Mondays.

The Vegetarian Education Group also promotes education on animal rights issues.

With monthly potluck dinners and a casually informative approach, the group strives to make local changes.

“We have to start small,” said group President Julia Radgowski. “Being passionate about your lifestyle really influences others.”

In a similar effort on a larger scale, Chipotle is raising awareness of factory farming.

The Mexican food chain will release a satirical series on Hulu about the adverse effects that industrial agriculture can have. The series will air on Feb. 18, according to a Jan. 27 New York Times article.

The main intent is to entertain us. After the laughing subsides, I hope the series starts a serious conversation.

After all, what is satire for if it doesn’t make us reflect on something wrong in society?

Whether you care about the environment, your health or the welfare of animals, you have every reason to cut down on eating meat.

The best way to effect change is to expose issues directly.

Shock and truth forces us to reflect on ourselves and our choices.