The looming question, nonetheless, was always "why is Foer so compelling?" As a vegan, I find Gary Francione's books and opinions to be clear, straightforward, and quite convincing. I like Francione's insistence on vegan education and consistency (of beliefs and practices) as major ways of enacting change; Foer, on the other hand, presents himself as someone who often wavered in the ethics of food choices, and oscillated between being an omnivore and being a vegetarian. However, when speaking to others about veganism, I am more likely to mention Foer, not Francione, despite the fact that I disagree with several of his points.
This week, as I was reading through Carl Dennis' Poetry as Persuasion--the section on political poetry, specifically--I realized exactly what it is that makes Foer's voice more effective--it is not only Foer's willingness to speak more for himself than for the overall cause, but also his recognition of the limits of his position. Dennis maintains that this is an element necessary for effective political poetry, lest is become propaganda. Foer does not impose limitations, but opens possibilities for dialogue, as I mentioned earlier. Carl Dennis also argues for "a greater openness to the world" rather than a "subjective agenda." Foer, in his empathy with the great variety of people--from animal rights activists to "livestock" farmers, does this, too. I certainly do agree with Francione in my own personal beliefs in practices--that veganism is the moral baseline; but people have to first stop to consider food at all before stopping to consider the ethical implications thereof. Thankfully, based on the recently-passed Dietary Guidelines, people are starting to reconsider food. And this is a step in the right direction, indeed.