Californians go to the polls in November with a high-profile ballot initiative to decide: whether to ban factory farms from raising livestock in small cages. For Nicholas D. Kristof, it's an apt moment to consider our transforming attitudes toward animal welfare. The Oregon farm boy turned New York Times columnist is a carnivore, but one who recognizes that "every hamburger patty has a back story."
As a boy, Kristof became emotional every time his family slaughtered its geese, but he still eats them, if respectfully. But while there's some gray area, he draws "the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions." Now even Burger King is squawking about animal welfare—a sign that the tide is changing, and that "in a century or two, our descendants will look back on our factory farms with uncomprehending revulsion. But in the meantime, I love a good burger."