Excerpt from Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Eating Animals

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer X
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2009, 352 pages
    Sep 2010, 368 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Cindy Anderson

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

And George isn't a kumbaya being who wants only to give and receive affection. As it turns out, she is a major pain in the ass an awful lot of the time. She compulsively pleasures herself in front of guests, eats my shoes and my son's toys, is monomaniacally obsessed with squirrel genocide, has the savant-like ability to find her way between the camera lens and the subject of every photo taken in her vicinity, lunges at skateboarders and Hasids, humiliates menstruating women (and is the worst nightmare of menstruating Hasids), backs her flatulent ass into the least interested person in the room digs up the freshly planted, scratches the newly bought, licks the about-to-be-served, and occasionally exacts revenge (for what? ) by shitting in the house.

Our various struggles - to communicate, to recognize and accommodate each other's desires, simply to coexist - force me to encounter and interact with something, or rather someone, entirely other. George can respond to a handful of words (and choose to ignore a slightly larger handful), but our relationship takes place almost entirely outside of language. She seems to have thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I think I understand them, but often I don't.

Like a photograph, she cannot say what she lets me see. She is an embodied secret. And I must be a photograph to her. Just last night, I looked up from my reading to find George staring at me from across the room. "When did you come in here?" I asked. She lowered her eyes and lumbered away from me, down the hall - not a silhouette so much as a kind of negative space, a form cut out of the domesticity. Despite our patterns, which are more regular than anything I share with another person, she still feels unpredictable to me. And despite our closeness, I am occasionally thrilled, and even a bit scared, by the foreignness of her. Having a child greatly exacerbated this, as there was absolutely no guarantee - beyond the one I felt absolutely - that she wouldn't maul the baby.

The list of our differences could fill a book, but like me, George fears pain, seeks pleasure, and craves not just food and play, but companionship. I don't need to know the details of her moods and preferences to know that she has them. Our psychologies are not the same or similar, but each of us has a perspective, a way of processing and experiencing the world that is intrinsic and unique. I wouldn't eat George, because she's mine. But why wouldn't I eat a dog I'd never met? Or more to the point, what justification might I have for sparing dogs but eating other animals?

A Case for Eating Dogs

Despite the fact that it's perfectly legal in forty-four states, eating "man's best friend" is as taboo as a man eating his best friend. Even the most enthusiastic carnivores won't eat dogs. TV guy and sometimes cooker Gordon Ramsay can get pretty macho with baby animals when doing publicity for something he's selling, but you'll never see a puppy peeking out of one of his pots. And though he once said he'd electrocute his children if they became vegetarian, I wonder what his response would be if they poached the family pooch.

Dogs are wonderful, and in many ways unique. But they are remarkably unremarkable in their intellectual and experiential capacities. Pigs are every bit as intelligent and feeling, by any sensible definition of the words. They can't hop into the back of a Volvo, but they can fetch, run and play, be mischievous, and reciprocate affection. So why don't they get to curl up by the fire? Why can't they at least be spared being tossed on the fire?

Our taboo against dog eating says something about dogs and a great deal about us.

The French, who love their dogs, sometimes eat their horses.

The Spanish, who love their horses, sometimes eat their cows.

The Indians, who love their cows, sometimes eat their dogs.

While written in a much different context, George Orwell's words (from Animal Farm ) apply here: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The protective emphasis is not a law of nature; it comes from the stories we tell about nature.

From Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Published by Little, Brown and Company. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

    A stunning novel that offers an exploration of faith, science and the meaning of life.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.