Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old Macdonald's Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old Macdonald's Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  329 ratings  ·  80 reviews
For most of her life, Catherine Friend was a carnivore who preferred not to consider where the meat on her plate came from—beef didn’t have a face, chicken didn’t have a personality, and pork certainly shouldn’t have feelings. But Friend’s attitude began to change after she and her partner bought a farm and began raising sheep for meat. Friend’s ensuing odyssey through the...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by Da Capo Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Compassionate Carnivore, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Compassionate Carnivore

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 913)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Petra SockieX
This was a load of rot. Written by two women, a couple, who have made their packet and have given up the city life to have a green farm and breed mostly sheep.

The book's purpose is to tell us all that we should eat local meat where we have personally inspected the farm (seriously, the author gives details on exactly how to find local farms to inspect and how much to 'tip' the farmer for showing you around even if you are later going to give him hundreds of dollars for his animals). It is recomm...more
I have been a vegetarian for over twenty years now. For about the past three years, I have - for a couple of personal reasons - been considering eating meat again. Pretty much every website is extremely biased - either "If you're a vegetarian, you're an idiot!" or "If you're not a vegetarian, you're an idiot!" and one day about a month ago I was frustrated, thinking, "If only there was a book to help me think about this... relatively unbiased, to present a 'good' way to go about eating meat, if...more
Dec 08, 2009 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
I probably don't need to tell you what this book is really about but I will anyway: factory farms suck. If you're going to eat meat, please please please buy it from a small farmer who knows their animals and do yourself a favor to ask the right questions to find out how the animal was raised AND killed.

That said, this was one of the best food books I've read. Friend and her partner own a sheep farm and her perspective as a farmer, animal-lover, AND meat-eater is unique and strong. I feel like...more

Get ready to quit your life and start a farm. Don't name your animals though because you will feel sad when you send them off to slaughter. It's okay to name them though if you are only going to slaughter their babies.

Okay, the author doesn't actually say quit your life and start a farm. She just assumes you have a fuckton of financial resources and a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance.

I rated this low because I don't see myself recommending it to anyone. I appreciate the detail given to...more
Part of the reason I disliked this book may be that it was just not the book for me at this time as a reader. Part of it may be that much of the arguments Friend makes are things I have seen in other books such as Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me. I will admit that I skimmed parts of the book due to the repetition. It is not that I disagree with the arguments; it's just that I have seen a lot of the stuff before, so I did not really need to see it again. The memoir parts, to be honest, had a li...more
I was disappointed by this book because I was looking for it to be something other than what it was. I felt it was somewhat repetitive and didn't have much true information in it. Also, I was shocked that Catherine Friend didn't ever actually witness the "compassionate" slaughter of her own food-farm-animals, so how could she really know? While that is a personal choice, the whole point of the book was about creating a connection to your food and killing it responsibly. I expected more. As someo...more
When I read this book, I was a vegetarian. It was suggested to me to read this book, seemingly to debate about the ethics of eating local versus factory meat with the person who suggested it. However, I did not see the book as a debate platform, but rather an insightful and interesting account of the author's personal path. I commend the author for finding a new way to view her food. Since reading this book, I have changed my diet to vegan. I think it is important to take the good from the book,...more
I thought this book was good. I used to be a vegetarian. I just sort of fell into eating meat again. Inattentiveness, I think. Laziness--it was easier to cook one rather than 2 meals (and now three). So I was eating meat and sort of looking the other way. I preferred not thinking past the plastic wrap. When I saw this book at the library I felt I should read it. As a way of taking responsibility.

She writes well. A lot of what she had to say was difficult to read. But in between the hard stuff s...more
Pretty good book. I borrowed it for a balanced perspective on the food/meat issue and I guess I got it. While I maintain my principles about boycotting meat altogether, I accept that I will have to agree to disagree with the writer who does offer an alternative to many omnivores out there reluctant to give up their meat.

In this book Friend explores in depth an issue that was briefly touched on by Foer in "Eating Animals" - small, sustainably-run humane farms. And for those who hold the fundamen...more
Elizabeth Topliff
If you care where your meat comes from and how it's treated from birth until it reaches your plate, then read this caring, practical, quirky story told by a Minnesota lamb farmer. She discusses the best meat options for us with consideration to nutritional value, humane treatment of animals, environmental impacts, and concern for genetically modified feed/growth hormone (rBst)/antibiotic fed food animals.
Hillary M.
I started reading this book because I was thinking of becoming a vegetarian again, and this caught my eye at a book sale in my town. Reading it, I had no idea how impacting it would be.

The point of this book is, as the title suggests, to make us become more conscientious about the meat we consume-- how much we eat a year, how many animals die in vain from plate loss and wasted food, and how the animals on the farms that provide the meat are treated.

I think a major thing that changed was my persp...more
Factory farming first hit home to me in March 2008. My husband and I were driving home on the interstate from Gainesville, Florida, when a semi passed by me. This semi was full of live chickens crammed together throughout the bed of the truck. I remember it was cold out and that there were lots of feathers floating through the air. My husband and I looked at each other, horrified, decided we were not going to have chicken for dinner that night, and my research into American food issues began.......more
I read the author's first book, "Hit By A Farm", and really enjoyed it. This one however, felt forced and rushed to me, and I didn't find it nearly as informative or entertaining to read. The author raises some good points, but lacks the follow through to really make an impact.

Catherine Friend runs a sheep farm with her partner Melissa. They are low scale farmers, and produce a small amount of sheep bound for the slaughter as compared to larger farms or factory farms. But because of her daily wo...more
Meggan recommended this book to me and I started reading it, thinking that it was going to be a bit boring, sort of, "blah, blah, blah, I've already read plenty about this stuff. I know it all." Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I think it's the best book I've read so far in terms of helping to convince me that we need to change our meat eating habits. It's also the book that I will now be recommending to anyone who asks me about why we eat meat the way we do. It's a bit more approachable than O...more
This one is great, and one I would recommend to anyone who cares even the slightest about their food and where it comes from - how it lived and died. I've tried and failed many times to give up meat, and just this week I was told that hey, this is how it is, one person can't change anything, just face facts. Catherine Friend shows that this way of thinking is not only dumb, but untrue. We vote with our dollars whether we are going to eat factory meat, where the animals live and die miserably, or...more
I've read numerous books on the subject of vegetarianism and veganism. According to these authors, these two options are the only way to be humane and considerate for animals as well as for the environment. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the meat eaters with an attitude of, "I've heard about bad conditions, but I don't care. I'm going to eat meat anyway because I want to." What's a girl like me, who is compassionate as well as a meat lover and an anemic? (Kinda need that source of ir...more
This is NOT an argument about whether it is right or wrong to use animals as food. This book shows meat-eaters (and milk-drinkers) how they can improve the lot of milk, egg and meat-producing animals; how to improve the life-quality of livestock to make things healthier for us, the animals and the environment. Does a good job of describing the different methods of farming (factory vs pasture, caged vs barn-bound vs free-range vs feedlot), what 'organic' certification means (not always as green a...more
An interesting perspective from the farmers point of view. Time will tell if humane husbandry, and the higher costs associated with it, is viable economically. In the mean time it is quite difficult to find meat products in the Los Angeles area that conform to this ideal. The other practical problem with this approach is that of demand - in order to support the current supply of meat in the US we would have to utilize every inch of land not used for crops for livestock pasture. Not sure how peop...more
Nov 10, 2009 Keri rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who eats food (even vegans)
This book is a straight forward, super-accessible read that I'd recommend to anyone who wants to try to eat better -- for themselves, the environment, the animals, and the economy. Filled with practical advice and real examples of ways we can all be more compassionate in our food choices, and why it's important to not just "walk away from the table". Plus, there's the added bonus that the author doesn't make you feel like crap if you slip up and eat a factory-raised animal product on occasion. A...more

Catherine Friend writes with a humble, humorous sincerity that is hard not to love. Despite deep ideological differences between myself and the author, her recognition of the complexities of the issue and her sensible presentation of a wide variety of important considerations (health, stewardship, empathy, social interactions) engendered many productive discussions between my wife and I not just about whether or which meat to eat, but more broadly about why we make the food choices we do. A ple...more
Don't give up meat! That's a message I can deal with. Catherine Friend provides information on farming, factory farming and what it means to be a carnivore at this moment in time. She advocates doing what you can, in the manner of Michale Pollan, and voting with your food dollars by giving them to small, sustainable farmers raising animals the way you prefer (grass-fed? grass-finished? conventional? no problem!) rather than giving up meat entirely. I liked the book because I agree with her but t...more
Sandy Hall
I really enjoyed both of the author's books chronicling her entry into and subsequent life on a farm and read this one simply to hear more from her. I think it's an excellent read for those who maybe don't understand the connection between the life of an animal and the death of that same animal when it's raised for food. I love that as a newcomer to farming she had to learn to cope with that transition and I think she explains why you should care if your edibles were "free-range" or "grass fed"....more
Mar 09, 2009 Malina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
Choosing to be a meat eater while looking for happy meat is something we started doing almost 2 years ago, partially due to The Omnivore's Dilemna, Fast Food Nation and Nourishing Traditions. While lack of employment makes that not possible at the moment, it is something that will be renewed as soon as we have stable income again.

This book is an excellent addition to the modern muckrackers of our food supply. She brings an interesting perspective as a small sheep farmer originally from the city...more
Sep 20, 2011 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Judy by: Kristina
This book is written by a lesbian sheep farmer who helps her partner in running a small, sustainable farm. Their goal is raising "happy meat." I learned a lot, and I feel I understand much more about the subject than I did before. That said...I think the core of this book could be distilled down to an article, there is so much repetition. As much as I agree with her goals, she presents a rather biased view. Since I mostly agree with her, it didn't bother me much - but she uses footnotes, quotes,...more
I was totally charmed by this author from the beginning. As someone who has wrestled with the morality of eating meat for awhile, it was a great exploration of the options along the spectrum -- from eating factory meat without concern to committing to veganism. Friend has very realistic suggestions for finding humanely raised meat in your community. When I started reading this last fall I was eating meat, now I'm not, but I like having a bit more information and feeling like if I go back the oth...more
Stephanie Piontkowski
This was good at explaining some basic facts about farming of all kinds, though extremely repetitive. It could have been half as long without losing content quality. A good informative read overall.
I know I'm a vegetarian, but I like to learn about other sides of every issue. In some weird way, I have to have some respect for a person who can raise their own meat, it says something that the eater is very aware and respectful of where her food is coming from. The fact that I don't think I could ever do that is one of the reasons that I am and probably will always be a vegetarian, I want to remember where my food is coming from, and it would be too painful for me to do that with meat. Yup, d...more
not enough new material if you're already involved in sustainable agriculture. Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Mineral was a very nice surprise after the first two chapters of yes-i-know-that-already, but this book never did manage to teach me anything. which was disappointing, because Catherine Friend is a good writer. i would like to learn from what others have experienced with exactly the same path i'm on: ethically raising, and killing & butchering, meat animals for food and profit. but th...more
I told you I was reading everything Friend's ever written -- and we come to the meat. A layman's (laywoman's) look at the meat industry and how our meat is raised. I was already pretty much against feedlots, etc., but now I really want to start questioning where my meat comes from .... Friend is gentle and reasonable about the whole issue, advocating for less food waste (YES) and small steps on one's way to being compassionate to the animals whose lives make our own possible. A good, solid, thou...more
This book really changed the way that I look at meat. I love meat and have no desire to become a vegetarian, but I do care about animals and my body as well. This book is written by a rancher who also loves meat and her animals and she gives amazing insight into the meat business. It was astounding to learn how much meat is wasted each day and she gives a great perspective on the best way to get local meat and make sure that we pay attention to what we are eating and the larger picture. I recomm...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 31 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice
  • Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms
  • A Slice of Organic Life
  • Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood
  • The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health
  • Food Politics
  • In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules
  • Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee—The Dark History of the Food Cheats
  • Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty
  • The Profitable Hobby Farm, How to Build a Sustainable Local Foods Business
  • Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness
  • Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It
  • The End of Food: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Food Supply--And What You Can Do about It
  • Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front
  • Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment
  • Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine
  • Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew
  • Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
Catherine Friend had what she calls a "boring" childhood, but she says that boring was just fine -- because it gave her more time to read. She read so much her parents had to set a "no-reading-at-the dinner-table" rule. She was slightly shy as a child, but enjoyed playing Beauty Parlor with her sister, taking family trips, and watching STAR TREK and TIME TUNNEL.

She studied Economics, but because...more
More about Catherine Friend...
Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet The Perfect Nest The Spanish Pearl A Pirate's Heart

Share This Book

“Would it really be so bad if you slowed your life down even a teensy bit? If you took charge of the ingredients of your food instead of letting corporations stuff you and your family, like baby birds, full of sugar, corn products, chemicals, and meat from really, really unhappy animals?” 13 likes
“If we are going to start calling industrial corn sustainable, then we might as well say that petroleum is a renewable resource if you're willing to wait long enough.” 7 likes
More quotes…