Eating Animals

“It’s a telling assumption, one that implies not only that a thorough inquiry into animal inquiry would lead one away from eating meat, but that most people already  know that to be the case…. I, too, assumed that my book about eating animals would become a straightforward case for vegetarianism. It didn’t. A straightforward case for vegetarianism is worth writing, but it’s not what I’ve written here.” Jonathan Safran Foer – Eating Animals

I came across this book while reading a vegan food blogger’s post about why she and her husband became vegan. I, too, assumed that the book would be a gruesome account of all the cruelties that are part of our omnivorous diet. True to his word, Foer does not tell that simple a story. He begins with the social nature of eating, surrounded by family, specifically his Holocaust surviving grandmother, his against-the-grain father, and perhaps most importantly his new son. He covers factory farms, and, in stark contrast, family farms. He discusses the public health and environmental impacts, and even the subtle differences between animal rights and animal welfare. By the book’s conclusion, I felt a little less guilty about feeding my daughter some of the ‘good stuff’ from Seven Sons Farms, but a little more guilty about offering her meat from unknown sources if, at a restaurant, I couldn’t easily find something toddler friendly and vegetarian.

I admit I had been willfully ignorant of the differences. “How bad could it really be?” I often thought naively. (Hint: it’s pretty bad, but you should really read for yourself like I finally did.) It almost seems like cheating that I had already converted to vegan(ish)ism before reading this book. I didn’t know. And now, I wish everyone knew. Everyone deserves to know. If you want to eat meat, you deserve better food than what’s available in the supermarket.

Since I read the Kindle version, I’ve decided to buy an actual paper copy of this book to loan to anyone who wants to read it. It is truly illuminating.

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