I wanted to cut and paste the whole thing, it’s just that good. But here’s a couple of excerpts.
Barnard: Apologizing to the animals or having them come from a local farm doesn’t change the ethics of it nor does it change the health aspects of it. (…)
We’re not carnivores. We’ve never been carnivores, ever. And even today, the most you can say is that people have become honorary omnivores. And that’s only because a) we are creative and find ways to do things that are not natural for us; and b) the dangers of eating animal products occur after the age of reproduction. If people developed cardiovascular disease that was fatal by the age of twelve or thirteen, eating animals would have died out long ago. You get it after you’ve already reproduced.
Dairy is a northern European invention and nothing that nature ever had in mind. It’s all because we figured out how to make cows stand still. (…)
Rumpus: So it’s a narrative that works for us—that animals don’t suffer as we do—and we go with that?
Barnard: I think that’s right. Another thing to think about is why people make the decisions that they do. The evidence that someone who eats animal remains is much more likely to have heart attacks, certain cancers, weight problems, hypertension, dementia of the Alzheimer’s type—that evidence is quite conclusive. So why do they do it? Well, first, they might not have the information. There’s a lot of noise, a lot of conflicting information out there. That’s the first thing.
Rumpus: You mean like about milk being the “perfect food”…?
Barnard: Yes: “you need red meat for iron,” “you need ‘complete’ protein,” whatever… The second thing is: where is your herd going? I think herd mentality is a good thing overall. Because if every sheep had to figure out the velocity of the wolf and their personal risk, that would take forever. It’s much better to say, “If the herd is running, I’m running with those guys.” And humans have herd mentality, too. (…)
I am always struck by how difficult it is for people to see how much cruelty they are bringing not only upon animals but upon themselves and their loved ones and other people, how much we are screwing up the planet, how much we are hurting our own health, how hard it is to change all that, how eager people are to make a buck at everybody else’s expense—all those things are discouraging.
But I think it’s fair, if something really is disgusting, to make people aware of it. For example, I just sampled about 120 chicken samples in Buffalo, New York. And we sent them to the lab and tested for fecal contaminaton. We’ll find it in about half of the samples. If you take a chicken thigh and wring it out, there’s fecal soup that comes out of it because there’s chicken feces everywhere in these places, and as they go through the chill bath, that spreads it around and the meat soaks it up and that measurably increases the weight of the chicken product they’re selling. How many people know that? They see the little preparation label that tells you to make sure you cook it, as if somehow a little peppering of bacteria has come from the atmosphere. They don’t realize that it’s chicken dung that’s not just on the surface but soaked into the meat. So people are serving their kids cooked poop. I think it’s fair game for people to know that. They may decide they’re going to do it anyway. But if some people think, “Why am I eating a dead bird soaked in poop?” I think if some people get disgusted by that, it’s all to the good. Their coronary arteries will be healthier.
Even if you’re not vegan, have a read! It’s a really interesting interview.