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.
I spent the first twenty-six years of my life disliking animals. I thought of them as bothersome, dirty, unapproachably foreign, frighteningly unpredictable, and plain old unnecessary. I had a particular lack of enthusiasm for dogs - inspired, in large part, by a related fear that I inherited from my mother, which she inherited from my grandmother. As a child I would agree to go over to friends' houses only if they confined their dogs in some other room. If a dog approached in the park, I'd become hysterical until my father hoisted me onto his shoulders. I didn't like watching television shows that featured dogs. I didn't understand - I disliked - people who got excited about dogs. It's possible that I even developed a subtle prejudice against the blind.
And then one day I became a person who loved dogs. I became a dog person.
George came very much out of the blue. My wife and I hadn't broached the subject of getting a dog, much less set about looking for one. (Why would we...
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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).
Full Review (1015 words).
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-...
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