The short story “The Ethical Treatment of Meat” by Claude Lalumière was published for the first time in 2003.
Raymond and George think that adopting a fleshie could be a good idea for their family. It’s not an easy choice as they’re the first to do it in their neighborhood. However, that growing trend also leads to some social problems because the most radical people think that eating fleshies’ brains when they grew up isn’t right.
“The Ethical Treatment of Meat” begins in a way that seems to be in a rather familiar setting, with a couple deciding to get a pet. At that point, the story starts becoming weird because the adopted animal is a fleshie boy and especially because the fleshie’s brain seems to be considered a delicacy.
Claude Lalumière doesn’t explicitly explain the nature of what are called people nor of fleshies but by putting together the various details the reader can guess the answers. The author reinterprets in an original way speculative fiction’s narrative elements in an original way, putting them in a frame of apparent normality. The result is a story for which genre labels are limiting.
After the startling start, Claude Lalumière quickly develops the themes of “The Ethical Treatment of Meat”. The presence of the fleshie child leads George and Raymond to think about ethical issues concerning meat, especially after they started attending a church in which the preacher is a convinced animal rights supporter.
The reactions of the community to George and Raymond’s choice are diverse but for many people the idea that animals can have rights is absurd. In a few pages Claude Lalumière describes in a non-trivial way the various positions and the consequences of the two protagonists’ activism.
The result is a story quite over the top, in some ways surreal but not for this less significant concerning the theme addressed. Reading it can make you laugh if you appreciate a certain type of black humor but it’s a case in which it’s used to address serious themes. “The Ethical Treatment of Meat” is a type of story that’s thought provoking in a way that can generate controversy. You can find this short story for example in the anthology “Other Persons – Altre persone” published by Future Fiction in English and Italian.