I’m posting a link, here, to a piece that I just published with Religion Dispatches magazine. It’s not a philosophically astute essay, so I’m not sure readers here will find it interesting for that reason. I’m reflecting, mostly, on the violence of eating. The violence of eating meat, of course… but also the violence of eating more broadly. The occasion for the reflection is the recent ethical essay contest at the NY Times: to come up with a morally defensible reason to eat meat. But also in the background is a recent graduate student conference at Columbia, where religion and meat was a hot topic of discussion. Mark C. Taylor opened the conference with a line from A River Runs Through It: “In our family, there was no clear line between religion & fly-fishing.” His charge, as I heard it, was that recent thinking about animals hasn’t dealt enough with blood sacrifice. Wendy Doniger, in her keynote, meditated on a rather endless series of lists from (mostly) The Laws of Manu, developing all kinds of prohibitions against violent forms of consumption, including an injunction that we maintain awareness of the “screaming silence” of vegetables. I was kind of taken by her claim that these lists (of prohibitions) are a way of rationalizing (and thus, controlling and regulating) the moral ambivalence that’s attached to our violent consumption of fellow creatures. This seems right to me. I’m more confused about how effective this is, or should be. Readers: what do you eat? And how? Do you make/keep lists? Are they, in even a loose sense, inspired by any creedal codes or regulations?