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Key Words: Sorry, meat lovers, the coronavirus has ‘kicked open the door’ to a vegetarian future, claims N.Y. Times op-ed

‘With the horror of pandemic pressing from behind, and the new questioning of what is essential, we can now see the door that was always there. As in a dream where our homes have rooms unknown to our waking selves, we can sense there is a better way of eating, a life closer to our values. On the other side is not something new, but something that calls from the past — a world in which farmers were not myths, tortured bodies were not food and the planet was not the bill at the end of the meal.’

That’s award-winning author Jonathan Safran Foer — best known for 2002’s “Everything Is Illuminated” but who also penned the nonfiction work “Eating Animals” in 2009 — summing up for Times readers his belief that the coronavirus pandemic has “kicked open the door” to the realization that we, as a society, need to move away from the meat industry.

“The combination of meat shortages and President Trump’s decision to order slaughterhouses open despite the protestations of endangered workers has inspired many Americans to consider just how essential meat is,” Foer wrote in his piece, which was published Thursday.

He pointed out that an “astonishing” six out of 10 counties the White House has identified as COVID-19 hot spots are places where those slaughterhouses are located.

Foer laid out details of the “grisly reality” inside these plants as well as the impact of the factory-farm business model on the environment, human health and, of course, animals.

Still, America’s split down the middle as to whether it’s willing to tap the brakes.

“Meat is embedded in our culture and personal histories in ways that matter too much, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the ballpark hot dog,” he acknowledged. “Meat comes with uniquely wonderful smells and tastes, with satisfactions that can almost feel like home itself.”

But the coronavirus pandemic could make a lasting change in how we approach the thorny issue, he said. Just look at the recent successes of Impossible and Beyond Meat BYND, -2.86% as evidence that consumers are willing to adapt and consider alternatives.

“At the very least it has forced us to look,” Foer wrote. “When it comes to a subject as inconvenient as meat, it is tempting to pretend unambiguous science is advocacy, to find solace in exceptions that could never be scaled and to speak about our world as if it were theoretical.”

His bottom line: We can’t protect the environment or guard against future pandemics while scarfing down meat regularly as if there isn’t a direct correlation.

“This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism,” he said.

While “end of meat” climbed Twitter’s TWTR, -0.49% trending list, the comments section on the Times story also blew up, with hundreds of readers chiming in:

Bill Wilson of Dartmouth, Mass., doesn’t buy the writer’s argument.

“Balanced true smaller organic family farms, focus on eating locally grown and shifting all the big-agri subsidies to food equity programs would transform our health and our environment,” he wrote. “Chemicals and mass food systems are the enemy, not meat eaters.

On the flip side, David from Harrodsburg, Ky., thanked Foer for his “amazing” perspective.

“Finally, an article that states everything I believe in! I’ve been ‘off’ meat for 7 years. I’m 56, on zero meds, (zero) lost weight and feel great every time I eat a meal,” he said. “I am a vegan for the health of the planet, for the animals who deserve to live in dignity, for the poor workers who are in the slaughterhouses and finally for my own health! It’s a win every time I sit down for a meal.”

And, of course, the internet was busy doing its thing:

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