I’ve had some inquiries lately regarding a song being released by a Canadian punk band, Propaghandi, called “Human(e) Meat: The Flensing of Sandor Katz.” The song describes slaughtering and preparing me as food. It does so using images I take to be references to and interpretations of the chapter “Vegetarian Ethics and Humane Meat” in my book The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. I find it ironic that group named for Ghandi, someone so insistent upon practicing resistance in nonviolent ways, would express their ideological disagreements with me through violent imagery describing my death, as well as a threat on my life. That is not funny to me.
I am always open to dialogue. I am not without ethical questions about meat. I identify with many of the ideals that motivate people to vegetarianism. But I also love meat and other animal-source foods, and I feel deeply nourished by them. After a relatively brief period of vegetarianism in my own life, I followed my body’s cravings back to meat. And I am not alone; I also observe as a cultural phenomenon that many one-time vegetarians return to meat, frequently spurred by pregnancy or health crisis, following their bodies’ calls.
We do have choices other than renouncing meat altogether or resigning ourselves to mass-produced meat, raised in cruel confinement and made toxic by a diet of industrial by-products and synthetic chemicals. Animals, even those destined for slaughter, can be fed well, given space to graze and roam, and treated with consideration. Meat does require death, but not cruelty. We can and must reclaim meat, as we must reclaim our food in every aspect and re-integrate its production into the fabric of our lives. This means cultivating relationships with plants, animals, microbes, and fungi, the other creatures that sustain us. And an important aspect of those relationships, if we are to feed ourselves, involves ending their lives. I do not take animal slaughter lightly. But I do believe that if the slaughter of animals were visible in peoples’ lives, we’d eat considerably less meat, and have a culture less prone to glorifying violence (as in this song).
Sandor Ellix Katz aka sandorkraut
Author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements
and Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods