I was a vegetarian in college. Being a vegetarian was such a defining part of my character that people who knew me then still ask if I eat meat or not because they can’t remember. It’s an interesting thing. I recently joined Max and Raleen’s new book club on Goodreads entitled Uncovered Book Club, where Raleen’s choice of the month was Jonathan Safran Foer’s non-fiction work entitled Eating Animals. Having been a vegetarian and previously liking some of Foer’s writing, I decided to skip over endless books on my TBR to read this.
My biggest takeaway from this book was also my biggest shock. I expected the book to be about vegetarianism, it’s superior lifestyle, and the numerous environmental benefits that lifestyle has on society. In a lot of ways, this book did just that. Before he gets into the nitty gritty of the meatless lifestyle, Foer invites the reader to examine their philosophy around animals, and ultimately life. For example, how do we choose what animals are acceptable to eat and what animals are not? Foer goes through several iterations on how we could define acceptable animals to eat. He uses intelligence, companionship, and culture to attempt to create an algorithm for how US citizens (as he is one) choose their meat. I thought this was amazing.
Have you ever really thought about why we find it so unacceptable for someone to say they’ve had dog before, but people frequently eat rabbit when others have bunnies for pets? Why do we feel no shame in eating pig (and trust me, I think bacon is delicious) when often times pigs are more intelligent than our dogs and cats? Why do we as a country spend so much money euthanizing dogs and cats to put them in mass graves, while there are starving people in most major cities? Even though I had chosen a meatless lifestyle at one point in my life, I had never given any of this much thought. As I read about Foer’s experiences learning about a variety of chicken, pork, fish, and beef producers, I kept thinking back to his philosophical argument. This is important to me, because I consider myself a person who has reasons behind her moral stances, but this book exposed me to an area where my reasoning was weak if even there at all.
There’s nothing revolutionary about this book. A lot of the bad Foer exposes is bad that is known to most people. It definitely made me reconsider my diet and I’ve already implemented changes cutting out turkey, chicken, and pork completely out of my diet again. However, I did enjoy his discovery of range free livestock. I wasn’t very familiar with particular major company or brands, so it was nice that these individual farmers got a decent amount of space in his book.
Overall, I gave this book 4 our of 5 stars on Goodreads, because it helped me open my mind to something I wasn’t quiet seeing. I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone, but if you like philosophy I think this would be a good book to have in your queue. Foer writes with such conviction and such dedication, that it inspires to the reader to apply more rigor to their lives and their morals.
Until Next Time World…