ColumnThe founder of Facebook vows to eat what he kills. Like?
Mark Zuckerberg has just announced his intention to only eat “that which he kills with his own bare hands.” It’s hard to discount any idea that springs from the mind of the guy who dreamed up Facebook while he was still a teenager. But I’m having trouble deciding if this slay-your-own-entree idea is The Next Big Thing, or if it’s merely evidence that earning a billion dollars in your early twenties can turn you into a major head case.
Not that I have a problem with people wanting to kill their dinner – I happen to be a committed carnivore, so the fact is, someone’s killing my dinner. It would be the height of prissy hypocrisy for me to look down on the people who slaughter the source of my turkey burger, while I stay clear of the carnage, keeping my hands (if not my karma), perfectly clean and pure. So while I’m not opposed to killing animals for food, I’m way too squeamish to do it myself.
Still, there’s so much hypocrisy when it comes to eating meat, and I think Zuckerberg should be commended for at least opening up the dialogue. My daughter prefers not to eat anything with a face, but she will make a completely unreasonable exception for pepperoni (although pepperoni really doesn’t have a face, coming as it does from assorted scraps of random beasts), even if it is the particle board of the meat world. Other people will eat any form of meat, while taking a moral stand against fois gras, because they think it’s cruel to aggressively fatten the liver of a duck just to make an unctuously tasty appetizer. We are all hypocrites.
Personally, I draw the line at veal, not for any logical reason, but because knowing it comes from a baby cow makes me want to lie down and weep. If this makes me a hypocrite, so be it. I am comfortable with the unpredictable nature of my position on animals, which boils down to this: we are higher up on the food chain than pigs and chickens so it’s all right for us to eat them. But to enjoy killing animals, to do it for sport, for the unfathomable pleasure of watching a creature die, is abhorrent to me.
I am not advocating legislation against this – I think people have the right to hunt for the fun of it, it’s just something I’d prefer they not do, much like chewing tobacco or speaking loudly on cell phones. If I ruled the world people simply wouldn’t hunt for sport. They also wouldn’t wear ironic sunglasses or use the word “panties” in spoken English.
But if you’re going to eat meat then you should have the guts to admit that it comes from animals, from living, breathing creatures who frolic and feel pain, who love their moms and run joyfully through the woods on a summer day. And despite a Hemingway-esque overabundance of macho posturing, there is a certain unflinching courage in Zuckerberg’s willingness to admit to himself that his meat did not originate shrink-wrapped from the Whole Foods butcher counter.
I somehow find myself admiring this young man’s plan to kill his dinner, to look his meals squarely in the eyes before he takes them down and has them sauteed with truffles and a nice buerre blanc. And yet, I can’t help thinking about Zuckerberg’s other recent passion, the adorable, fluffy white puppy named Beast that he adopted a few short months ago. This sweet little dog, with his rich daddy and his own Facebook page, was promptly proclaimed “the luckiest dog alive,” but I’m not so sure. One can only hope that Zuckerberg doesn’t get a sudden attack of the munchies one day, while teaching little Beast to fetch.
Susan Goldberg is a slightly lapsed treehugger. Although known to overuse paper products, she has the best of intentions – and a really small SUV. Catch her column, The Goldberg Variations, each week here at EcoSalon.