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episode 255: Political animals (with Leah Garcés)


Imagine, for a moment, what it’s like to be an animal rights activist. Tens of billions of animals are being tortured and slaughtered every year. It is, to you, a rolling horror. But to the people you love, the world you live in — it’s normal. You’re the weird one.

So what do you do? How do you engage, politically and personally, when so few see what you see?

Leah Garcés is the Executive President of Mercy for Animals and the author of Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry ,which documents her journey to reduce the suffering of chickens by building coalitions with none other than well… industrial chicken farmers.

I wanted Garcés on the show because her story is about more than animal suffering. It’s about the core question of politics: the choice we face, every day, between condemnation and compromise. Whether your issue is health care or climate or civil rights or abortion or taxes or foreign policy, you’re faced daily with people working for a world you find repellent. What do you do when they’re the majority and you’re the minority? How do you maintain your own morality when the system itself is sick? When do you draw bright lines, and when do you erase the lines you’ve spent your life drawing?

This conversation gets uncomfortable at times — the realities of factory farming are not easy to face. But, trust me, you will want to stick with it. Garcés offers an extraordinary lesson in the daily practice of politics, one worth hearing even if it’s not ultimately your path.

Book recommendations:

Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard

Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna

Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey by Joe Hutto   

If you enjoyed this podcast, you may also like:

The Green Pill

Bruce Friedrich on how technology will reduce animal suffering

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

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 09 September 2019  1h32m