Consider the Dung Beetle and Other Eminent Arguments

In “Carnivore’s Dilemma,” Robert Kunzig explores basic but contradicting aspects of human relationship to meat – health, nutrition, ethics, taste, sustainability, and culture.

Kunzig’s prose feels somehow inappropriate, yet compelling, as he refers to the slaughterhouse as “the city of beef” where the cows’ life purpose consists of putting on pounds of “well-marbled beef.” It is not sterile, he does not use careful, scientific language to refer to the animals and the process they endure at the slaughterhouse. Instead, he embraces a language of personification and objectification in one, humanizing the cows while also being blunt about their purpose during their short lives. This causes a disruption in how either side of that argument is usually presented – either cows are serving humans as an inferior species with useful traits, or that consumption of meat is murder, and humans are disgusting for taking advantage of the poor animal that lives its life in harsh, unethical conditions.

The constant contradiction in Kunzig’s language drives the narrative, attracting audience from both sides of the argument – “Meat is murder. . .Meat is delicious. . .Meat is nutritious. . .” His sources include his own witness, as he goes on to a Texas slaughterhouse and interviews the main operating officer, as well as learns more about the process.  As Kunzig relays the interviews of multiple people that genuinely love their job and believe in meat as a tool to helping the world, the sidebar displays graphs on the footprint of meat, with devastating numbers leaning unfavorably to beef. This produces a double sided effect, allowing the audience to interact with both real stories and beliefs, as well as the numbers that prove otherwise.

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