Read Nicholas' New York Times essay from July 31, 2008.
"Yes, I do eat meat," he wrote. "But I draw the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions. ... Defining what is cruel is, of course, extraordinarily difficult. But penning pigs or veal calves so tightly that they cannot turn around seems to cross that line."
Nicholas recalls how his experiences as a boy on his family's farm continue to inform his feelings about animal cruelty, particularly after his family started raising a flock of geese.
Nicholas says he admired the geese, which are known for mating for life. When it was time to slaughter one of the geese, young Nicholas was given the task of rushing into the barn to grab a goose for the chopping block. "Then I'd be walking out to the door, and out of that panicked flock one goose would emerge and walk toward me absolutely terrified, but sort of protesting in a very 'goosian' way. It would be the mate of the one that I was holding," he says. "And boy, that is a kind of courage—and it sounds funny to say it, but courage and humanity, if you will—that I have just never seen since. That has haunted me ever since."