Andrea's Reviews > Eating Animals

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
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's review
Nov 11, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction, 2010

So before I decided to become a vegetarian I didn't read anything like this. While my decision was partially based on the constantly updated knowledge about the sophistication of animals and their communication skills along with the well-known cruelty of the food industry, I told myself it was mostly a reaction to the knowledge that feeding, keeping, and moving food animals is terribly detrimental to the environment. Horribly. And that's true. It is. I was fairly sure that reading about the cruelty in depth wouldn't have too much of an effect on me. I knew about it already and had rationally already chosen to change my behavior accordingly. I believed myself desensitized to actual strong feelings by my lifelong knowledge of the practice, but about half way through this book, it really got to me in a way that it hadn't before.

Of course, I also think it's incredibly important to read the book for the information about the unbelievably detrimental effect the meat industry has on the environment, public health, and biodiversity. The information about the sophistication of the intelligence of animals usually considered to be dumb can be pretty astonishing (fish learning!). I was frankly shocked to finally pay attention to how much weight the meat industry lobby has in government. All of this was balanced against stories of wonderful grandmothers who provide meat-laden foods and family farmers who fight to do what is right for the animals that they say they love. If the book doesn't encourage you to consider vegetarianism (or, gasp, veganism, which I am now considering), then expect it to cause you to seriously consider where you get your animal products. And I believe you should consider where you get your meat (if you don' want to stop), because 99.9999999999999999% of the time, it's been tortured, unless you know who you're getting it from and you've done the research.

And that's another thing that has changed. Before I read this, I was practically afraid to tell people that I'm a vegetarian. It makes my family and my coworkers uncomfortable. I want to make them happy to spend time with me. I want to make the time we spend sharing stories over food a happy time. But reading this made me feel like it's important to share this information with them. Whether they are ignorant of it or they are just choosing to forget because it's uncomfortable to remember, I feel like they should know what people are doing to the animals that they remember fondly from our childhoods feeding them apples, and how it's hurting not only the animals, but us as well.
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webya "But reading this made me feel like it's important to share this information with them." Well put!

This is where I am now. I used to call myself a "non-annoying vegetarian" but I find it's becoming more and more difficult to put my preferences behind everyone else's--not to mention my feelings toward animals and factory farming and the status quo.

I do think the best way to make a good impression about vegetarianism is by modeling. Let the people ask, and even then, you only have 30 seconds to tell them what it means to you. That is a small window that doesn't open very often.

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