Book Review: Eating Animals


Awhile back, my friend Katie loaned me her copy of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer. I put off reading it because I was overwhelmed with having read The Omnivore's Dilemma & then watching Food Inc. But I finally read it & finished it a few weeks ago. It's taken me awhile to write this review because I can't wrap my mind around what I want to say.

Here's what the book is about. Foer is Jewish, sometimes Kosher, & sometimes a vegetarian. When he & his wife have a baby, he decides they either need to go full vegetarian, or not, but he needs to make a decision either way. This book is the result of how he reached his decision.

It's a short book & because it's a personal story, opposed to a 300 page journal article, I read it quickly, unlike The Omnivore's Dilemma, which felt like a homework assignment that I had to force myself to read.

What isn't easy to read, is the detailed accounts of animal abuse, which is a big focus of the book. I have a pretty high threshold for violence, but there were parts of this book that made me physically sick to read. It's rough & it's definitely not for the faint of heart. That being said, it really gets the point across.

So here's where I'm having trouble. This book was published in 2009, but in the book, Foer points out that it took him years (3-ish?) to compile all this research & that some things will have inevitably changed by the time it's published. For instance, there weren't Whole Foods stores when he was writing this, so the option of buying better meat wasn't really there yet, which, obviously, helps his pro-vegetarian platform.

Here's the deal, if you're a vegetarian, this book will validate your choice; if you're leaning towards becoming a vegetarian, this book will be the tipping point; if you read this book & still eat meat, you'll feel like an asshole.

I will say, reading this book is the first time I legitimately thought about becoming a vegetarian. As I was reading it, I thought, 'there's no way I can keep eating meat', which I've been struggling with for about a month or so now (& driving John batshit with in the process).

For now, I'm still eating meat, but I'm what Foer calls a "selective omnivore." I'm only eating meat that doesn't make me feel guilty. Tyson, Purdue, Smithfield: you will no longer be receiving any money from me. I've started buying our meat (& milk & eggs) from Whole Foods. Yes, it costs more, but whatever. If $20 of meat is only 1 or 2 dinners a week, then so be it. And I swear, the meat is better! Even John says so.

I feel like a lot of people focus on red meat when they think about going vegetarian, but beef is the least of my worries. I'm freaked out by chicken & pork, which I eat a whole hell of a lot more of than I realized. I have a particularly hard time with chicken, because, as I've quickly realized, everything I order at a restaurant involves chicken. Calypso Cafe: chicken nachos or chicken pita. Any Mexican restaurant: chicken soft tacos. Any fast food restaurant: grilled chicken sandwich. Baja Fresh or Blue Coast Burrito: chicken burrito. Indian: chicken tikka masala. Thai: chicken curry. It's making eating out a bitch.

Anyway, I could go on & on about all the issues this book raised for me, but I'll wrap this up. The fact is, this book made me think more than anything else has, so if you're looking for that, read this book. If you feel confident that you can live out the rest of your days not knowing what "thumping" is (hint: it involves piglets), then stay away.

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