OK, bear with me on this one. It’s a toughie, but hear me out.
I read Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats about 11 years ago and at the time no-one was really talking about free-range or hormone-free anything and we had just recovered from all the Mad Cow disease madness. (remember that?)
I was never a big meat eater, but grew up in a house where you eat all the food on your plate and do not question brown stew (even the carrots were brown). And vegetarians were equal to communists.
Someone in my bookclub bought this book. On the cover it looked innocuous, about a half-Japanese/half-American documentary maker making a documentary to sell American meat to the Japanese market and she sets off with a television crew across rural America.
The book is funny and brilliantly written, but it has a rather chilling message about what goes into meat. It is very, very well researched and well worth a read. It also touches on infertility which, at that point in my life, wasn’t even an issue. Yet.
So, mostly due to this book I followed my instincts and don’t eat red meat. I will eat the odd mince or piece of biltong these days, but wish that I could stop eating all meat. Every time we feed our children chicken that is not free-range I feel bad, because we all know what goes into that and how it affects young children. In reality it is expensive to live completely organic and free-range, but we try. We try really hard.
Often people ask me why I don’t eat red meat and I’m not a tree-hugger or communist and not even really a vegetarian at that, and I don’t to launch into a psychotic babbling session about “this book I read”, but it makes me think of the book every time someone asks me. So I guess it did change my views.
ps: She also wrote another book called All Over Creation that deals with genetic modification which was also very thought-provoking.