Eating Animals- Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals was a difficult book to get through. Sometimes I could only read a few pages before I would have to put it down. As someone who is already committed to a vegetarian diet, I was able to take comfort in the fact that I contribute less to the disgusting situations described in this book. But I am far from perfect. Cheese makes a regular appearance on my plate, my car has leather interior, and don’t even get me started on my shoes.

Foer discusses the sacrifices involved in eliminating meat including being viewed as a difficult person by others, and being unable to partake in meals that are considered family tradition. Both are reasons that I continue to be vegetarian rather than vegan.

He is honest about how he enjoys the taste of meat and has struggled with removing it from his diet. It’s a constant conflict between enjoyment and morals. Something that I believe most people would agree with. Most people like animals. They would have very conflicting emotions if they were forced to kill one themselves. I have several friends who tried to go vegetarian after they learned about what actually goes down at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Their intentions were excellent, but after a couple of weeks the shock wore off and they began adding meat back to their diet. Much like the author did several times prior to writing this book.

It’s very informative. My only complaint is that the descriptions are too gruesome, but it is hardly the fault of the author for presenting his research. The fault lies with the system that we have all enabled to take over the industry.

Quotes

“What our babysitter said made sense to me, not only because it seemed true, but because it was the extension to food of everything my parents had taught me. We don’t hurt family members. We don’t hurt friends or strangers. We don’t even hurt upholstered furniture. My not having thought to include animals in that list didn’t make them the exceptions to it.”

“There were things she believed while lying in bed at night, and there were choices made at the breakfast table the next morning.”

“Because there are so many animals, it takes me several minutes before I take in just how many dead ones there are.”

“That’s the business model. How quickly can they be made to grow, how tightly can they be packed, how much or little can they eat, how sick can they get without dying.”

“When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.”

“Whether we’re talking about fish species, pigs, or some other eaten animal, is such suffering the most important thing in the world? Obviously not. But that’s not the question. Is it more important than sushi, bacon, or chicken nuggets? That’s the question.”

“Not responding is a response- we are equally responsible for what we don’t do. In the case of animal slaughter, to throw your hands in the air is to wrap your fingers around a knife handle.”

“Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use, and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty would change us.”

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2 thoughts on “Eating Animals- Jonathan Safran Foer

  1. I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian when I read this, and this book really sealed the deal. I liked the fact that it was by just a normal guy and not someone who was already an animal-diet hater to start out with. Plus, I had already read Foer’s other brililant novels and LOVED them so I had to read this. Are you glad you read it? I know, during the pig section it was especially hard for me…

  2. I think that whenever I read information about how pigs are treated it’s upsetting, because they are friendly like dogs. I actually live pretty close to Smithfield, NC, so I felt like that whole section was taking place right in backyard, which made me feel guilty (even though I haven’t eaten pork in years.)

    I am glad that I read it because I think it is important to be educated. I never try to pressure my non-vegetarian friends to become vegetarian, because I don’t want to be perceived as rude, but I can’t tell you how many times people have found out that I don’t eat meat and bombard me with questions/ accusations. I think that by reading Eating Animals I will be better able to answer their questions when the opportunity arises.

    I have not read any of his other books, but I like his writing style and definitely look forward to reading more of his work.

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