Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood - facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child's behalf - his casual questioning took on an urgency. His quest for answers ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the emotional ingredients of meals from his childhood, and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong. Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir and his own detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits - from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth - and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting. Marked by Foer's profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, widely loved, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we've told-and the stories we now need to tell.
This is a book that everyone should read, vegetarian or not. It is didactic without being dull, it presents its arguments without preaching, it manages to be both approachable in style and appealing to educated readers, and it offers up new arguments in addition to some familiar ones... Perhaps Foer's vision is idealistic, but it is hopeful. And one of the loveliest qualities of Eating Animals is its hopefulness, not just for animals but for human beings as well. (Reviewed by Cindy Anderson).
New York Magazine
Foer’s book is sometimes noble and powerful and brave—but it’s also deeply irritating, even to a fellow irritating vegetarian. Its polemic force is blunted by the signature JSF aesthetic: chapters tagged with cutesy titles (“All or Nothing or Something Else”), formal play to no obvious end (one section is written as a faux dictionary), and serious thought replaced by clumsy rhetorical jazz-hands (“When we lift our forks, we hang our hats somewhere”).
O, The Oprah Magazine
For a hot young writer to train his sights on a subject as unpalatable as meat production and consumption takes raw nerve. What makes Eating Animals so unusual is vegetarian Foer's empathy for human meat eaters, his willingness to let both factory farmers and food reform activists speak for themselves, and his talent for using humor to sweeten a sour argument.
Huffington Post Eating Animals is part personal journey, part modern muckraking and a surprisingly candid and empathetic book on food. Foer doesn't preach but instead invites us to have a conversation with family farmers and factory farmers, animal activists and slaughterhouse workers. His book is important not because he has all the answers (he often acknowledges his own uncertainty), but because he asks the right questions and makes it impossible for us not to ask them too.
San Francisco Chronicle
A work of moral philosophy...After reading this book, it's hard to disagree [with Foer].
The Washington Post Eating Animals suffers from Foer's sometimes-sanctimonious attitude and the same over-the-top writing that has always divided his readers into love-him or hate-him camps... But Foer's particular brand of modernist prose.. does serve to bring another round of scrutiny - and a new demographic of reader - to the kinds of farms that, as he puts it, "treat living animals like dead ones."
New York Times
An earnest if clumsy chronicle of the author’s own evolving thinking about animals and vegetarianism, this uneven volume meanders all over the place, mixing reportage and research with stream-of-consciousness musings and asides.
Stirring....compelling, earnest...Foer brings an invigorating moral clarity to the topic.
Los Angeles Times
Some of our finest journalists (Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser) and animal rights activists (Peter Singer, Temple Grandin)-not to mention Gandhi, Jesus, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke and Immanuel Kant (and so many others)-have hurled themselves against the question of eating meat and the moral issues inherent in killing animals for food. Foer, 32, in this, his first work of nonfiction, intrepidly joins their ranks...It is the kind of wisdom that, in all its humanity and clarity, deserves a place at the table with our greatest philosophers.
St. Louis Post
[Eating Animals] is extraordinarily thoughtful and intelligent, and reads more like philosophy than journalism.
A blend of solid - and discomforting - reportage with fierce advocacy that will make committed carnivores squeal.
Starred Review. Foer combines an array of facts, astutely-written anecdotes, and his furious, inward-spinning energy to make a personal, highly entertaining take on an increasingly visible (and book-selling) moral question; call it, perhaps, An Omnivore's Dilemma.
The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer's book, continues to consume the industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both.
Factory Farm Alternatives
Foer suggests that meat lovers who don't want to support factory farms consider patronizing small family farms rather than buying grocery store meat, which has been produced by factory farms. The products offered by these small farmers tend to be pricey, but these producers say that their animals live most of their lives outdoors, pain-free, with access to high quality food and water. Foer, who is a vegetarian, doesn't consider them perfect (and he says that some practices, like castrating pigs, are still unacceptable to him), but he finds them to be admirable alternatives for those who choose to eat meat.
Profiled in Eating Animals, Frank Reese's Good
Shepherd Poultry Ranch (Kansas) features free-range poultry and American
Heritage Turkeys. Niman Ranch (California),
also featured in the book, is a producer of beef, pork, lamb and poultry, although the company does not appear to be as ethically run as it was when founder Bill Niman was in charge (more on this at SFGate and Wikipedia).
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