By Tracy Wang
When you have a plate of chicken legs in front of you, do you ever stop and consider where those meat come from? I believe not. Like some lines from ‘Eating Animals’ say, we are very good at disconnecting the ideas of eating and killing animals, as if those meat can miraculously appear out of thin air, whenever we wish to consume them.
In ‘Eating Animals’, we follow actress Natalie Portman’s narration along on a journey of American farming history, and many destructive impacts of factory farming that has been feeding Americans for many decades.
We witness some farmers who follow the traditions of farming, and let their poultries run around in the pasture, but we also witness factory farming which we only ever were able to catch only a few glimpses. Compared to many other films on this topic, we do not see that many scenes of animal cruelty, though what we have seen is enough to make us stop and think about what we are eating and where they come from.
However, even without those heart wrenching scenes of factory farming, we are deeply affected by this film that is based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer. The shift of focus from visuals of the treatments of those animals to the impacts factory farming has on the environment and people strikes the right cord in our hearts, and makes us not only look at the food we eat, but look at the environment and people around us.
When we see a farmer sends his turkeys onto a truck to a slaughterhouse, our hearts break along with him; when we see the pink ponds that are filled with animal waste, we feel disgusted; when we hear of the difficulties in doing the right thing of recording what factory farming is doing to animals, we question what we would do if we were in their shoes, and most likely, we come to the conclusion that we could almost never achieve what those farmers do and believe.
The effectiveness of the film relies on its seemingly calm but shocking revelation of what have been dangling at the periphery of our minds, and its many questions that are both asked and not asked. It takes us into the lives of those who are struggling to tell us the truth, and it brings us into a world where we hardly ever go.
The power of the film relies on the facts or statistics it throws at us, but it is not the act of watching this film that is so powerful; instead, it is what happens after this film that makes this film so significant.
How are the animals treated in factory farming? Where do our meat come from? In what ways are we helping the system of factory farming thrive? What could be the alternatives to this system of farming?
These questions slowly but surely eat away at our thoughts and mind, and make us unable to hide away any more from the harsh reality we live in, and the horrible future we are weaving for the next generation.
If you are ready to confront some truths that are going to flip everything you’ve known or believed, you are ready to dive into ‘Eating Animals’.