Michael Pollan Dodges the Discussion with Jonathan Safran Foer

The Huffington Post just published a long interview with Michael Pollan that covers, among other things, the criticism he’s received by Eating Animals author Jonathan Safran Foer. Pollan’s response, in part:

Well, look, nobody is anti-meat enough for the animal-rights purists, except for someone who says that eating meat is morally indefensible. So there’s certain people that are never going to be satisfied by any message short of ‘Don’t Eat Meat,’ and that’s not my message.

That’s not my problem with Pollan and I doubt it’s Foer’s problem either. While it would be great if Pollan came out and pronounced veganism the most compassionate and sustainable diet, I don’t think anyone’s expecting him to do that. Where Pollan’s position breaks down is that, to my knowledge, he’s never once presented veganism as a viable option.

Indeed, his maxim, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” basically rules out being vegetarian or vegan, and yet Pollan has never bothered to clarify his position on this matter. He could easily add something like, “In my effort to be pithy I oversimplified things a bit, but of course a well-planned vegan diet can also be a terrific option.”

But he never says that, and he never says why he doesn’t say that. Instead, he closes down the debate by calling people like Foer animal rights purists. It’s remarkable that Pollan, who’s sold more books about food than anyone this decade, refuses to take a position on vegetarianism that he’s willing to defend.

It’s really a case of Jonathan Safran Foer wanting to have the conversation, and Pollan refusing to make a genuine response. Link.

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