428 of 438 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A catalyst..
This book was a catalyst where I wasn't looking for one. After the first 35 pages a light bulb started lighting up...and I feared my life was about to change. I've never written a book review, but after reading what Jonathon learned in his 3 + years of researching factory farming, I had to tell others to read it. He provides serious, horrific and real information. I...
Published on November 10, 2009 by A. Moon
272 of 346 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confused
First, there was Michael Pollan, whose book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," a book I deeply admire, exposed the horrors (and yes, they are horrors) of what is now called "factory farming" and the devastating effects of agribusiness on the American diet. And there was Barbara Kingsolver, whose chatty family experiment in local eating ("Animal, Vegetable, Miracle") popularized...
Published on November 20, 2009 by M. Feldman
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428 of 438 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A catalyst..,
This book was a catalyst where I wasn't looking for one. After the first 35 pages a light bulb started lighting up...and I feared my life was about to change. I've never written a book review, but after reading what Jonathon learned in his 3 + years of researching factory farming, I had to tell others to read it. He provides serious, horrific and real information. I never knew about factory farming until I read his book and googled 'factory farming' on the web. It was all over from there. I started watching those videos on what we do to animals-the ones we don't want to see-and I could not stomach another bite of an animal again. I loved meat, ate it easily 3xday for all of my life, grew up near those green pastures in northern California where cows graze all day. Wow. Was I disconnected and fooled...
What I felt, was that he did not preach about not eating animals. He presented information that I could personally relate to and grasp. For me, Jonathon felt like a messenger...where many have failed to bring light to what humans are systematically doing to animals every moment of every day. He provided very important information about 99% of the animals I used to buy and eat for my family and friends. I had no idea that the US alone consumes 10 billion animals PER YEAR. I finally woke up. One chicken has 2 wings(that they never use)--how many chicken wings come in a basket at a restaurant-6? 12? 24? I used to throw meat away after getting full. I was throwing away a life-a wasted one who suffered in life and in death. What frightened me more about this book is why is an author bringing this info to me? Where are the ongoing news specials on this?
Jonathon's personal tone, statistical/historical data, research team, true accounts from the field, letters, etc., left me no choice than to agree with him. Of course, he is not a farm owner, hasn't worked on a farm, and can't come from a place of truly understanding 'farming'. And he doesn't shun farming, he actually helped me realize that the farming I thought ALL animals came from--humane ones--are actually a miniscule percentage of all farms. His writing is heartwarming, but gut-wrenching. His occasional wit about the insanity of factory farming made me laugh quietly, but kept me awake at night thinking & fretting.
Eating Animals forced me to realize the terrifying component of being lied to by these factory farms and the megacorporations that support them. I used to pay extra for organic milk & cage free eggs because I believed in Horizon Farms. I thought I was making a better choice for the animals. Ultimately, the author woke me up from a deep, deep sleep. As he eloquently presents about turkeys, how can we celebrate 'thanks' and 'family' or whatever tradition you have on Thanksgiving while the main course never saw the sun, felt the earth, a breath of fresh air, had his beak seared off with a hot blade and no pain killers, lived on top of thousands of other turkey's and their excrement, thrown into trucks for transport hundreds of miles without food or water, and never had one true moment of 'love.' If having a better understanding of what love means to you, read this book.
390 of 413 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars changing my ways,
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I identified with Foer as a person who really tries to eat ethically, but whose weaknesses often get the best of him. I've had strong intuitions that there is something wrong with Meat today, but, like Foer reports of his own journey, those intuitions have not been strong enough for me to really change what I eat. The woman in my life, by contrast, has been a vegetarian for over a decade and never wavers. Of the many changes I've made to accommodate our relationship, giving up meat was never one of them. I've generally let the smell of bacon silence any discomfort I had with meat. That is, until reading Eating Animals. Foer's personal narrative spoke to me more than any of the many exposes on factory farming slyly sent my way. At the same time, Eating Animals left me far more informed than I was before ... It's the standard cliché, but I really couldn't put the book down. In place of the didactic or moralistic, Foer welcomes the reader into his life and his story. Foer is his own main character, and his own self-examination inspires the same. You won't be the same after reading it.
388 of 417 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on the Food Industry and Foer's Most Important,
The buzz about this book was so incredible I had to get my hands on an advanced copy. The book is like nothing else ever written on the food industry. It reads like a novel, is funny, incredibly well documented, and lets factory farmers and animal activists speak in their own words. I've read a lot of books on the food industry and this is by far the best. It makes other writers, even Michael Pollan, look a bit timid. Foer never preaches. He shares his own beliefs and asks us to live by our own standards, not his. Foer reveals a lot of personal information here and, since this is his first nonfiction book, it its especially interesting for readers of his previous books to see some of the fact behind his fiction. The material about his grandmother and how she survived the holocaust is really powerful. The stuff about his dog George (Foer makes a mock case for eating dogs) is hilarious. His storytelling is so compelling that you hardly realize how much information he's conveying (there are 60 pages of notes documenting his sources, but the text itself is uncluttered by footnotes). Another unique thing about this book is that Foer actually sneaks into a factory farm in the middle of the night... Eating Animals is a serious book that could change the way you live. But what's most impressive about it is that it is also fun to read, which is exactly what we need on a hot button topic like the contemporary food industry.
96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To the point...,
It is very hard to write a review of this book without expressing one's own view of the ethics of meat eating, as most of the reviews - and many of the comments to some of these reviews - demonstrate. In fact, it is impossible to really separate the two when discussing a book that is both so personal in its narrative, and relentlessly focused on universal eating habits. My review is no different.
Taking a stab at the book itself: I am not familiar with Foer's fictional works, but his background is evident as he lends the whole subject a compelling narrative and style that really make "Eating Animals" quite a page-turner (I read it in a day and a half). To those familiar with this debate, the statistics are not really new, nor are the horror stories of factory farming. What is new is the personalization of his approach (I too am a father and could relate to the decisions he faces), and, most effectively, his unflinching, relentless, repetitious focus on the reality of consuming 99% of the available meat today: The environmental damage, the suffering, the waste, the lies and corruption, the exploitation, the veil of secrecy amongst the industrial farming concerns. It is Foer's relentless focus of these central issues and his unwillingness to avoid the obvious question (How can it be ethical to consume meat under these conditions?) that I believe distinguish this book and make it most effective.
So what does this mean to this reviewer in terms of his personal habits? Well, I am a long-time consumer of meat. I love everything about it in terms of taste, texture, variety, preparation, culture, etc. I am a serious hobbyist-cook, and meat has played a central role in what I prepare...Though largely tolerant/indifferent to others' eating habits, I have been largely turned off by the vegetarian and (especially) vegan communities as a whole. I have long viewed veganism as another example of our (U.S.) puritanical tradition of extreme reaction and self-denial to complex moral issues, married up with our (U.S.) lack of a strong, traditional food culture (go to somewhere like France or Spain, or Vietnam, and the difference is night and day). That said, when I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" a few years ago, I did change many of my habits, and my purchases became almost exclusively organic for ethical reasons. However, like Pollan, I continued to eat meat, though shifting to more ethically raised and killed sources.
Now having recently completed Foer's book, I have yet to consume meat, and really this is because Foer's central "decision" is so unavoidable: Either you don't eat meat, or you support a lot of animal pain and suffering. I believe meat-eating can be ethical, but right now, in our world, it is really just too screwed up and sick to be patronized. So bringing together the book itself and my personal reaction to it, I would say this book is profoundly "impactful" (not a word - I know), if my reaction is representative of anything. I am still contemplating meat consumption for the long term, as deep down I think there is something fundamentally "not right" and borderline neurotic about complete self-denial of meat - I mean, it is so closely tied to our evolution and culture, and its presence is strong in almost every single human society, indigenous or otherwise. But until this settles in my mind, it feels better to just say "no". And ultimately, how it "feels" is probably going to be the ultimate deciding factor for me, because I don't believe ethical debates are ultimately solved through pure logic...Foer seems to say this as well...
I do have one big issue with "Eating Animals", and that is with regards to the future of killing animals for food (which I doubt will ever go away): How will the more acceptable animal food operations that Foer admires - like Frank Reese's turkey farm - ever develop into something beyond the fringe, when ethically minded people go straight to non-meat consumption? It does seem a bit disingenuous to promote these meat farms and then say you will not patronize them, as (SPOILER ALERT) Foer does.
So I am no longer eating meat for some time (maybe forever) as a result of this book, which is I believe is a testament to the power of the author's words. My only pressing issue now is what do I feed my cat?
57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes us human,
As someone who loves Foer's previous work, but isn't usually interested in non-fiction, I wasn't sure what to expect from Eating Animals. I got so much more than I ever bargained for. Eating Animals made me laugh, and cry, and think. Seriously think. The horrors Foer depicts are as impossible to ignore as is the fact that this book goes far beyond a simple journalistic consideration of the issue. It's a non-fiction book like no non-fiction book I've ever read.
Foer's point is simple: Virtually all of the animal products we consume come from factory farms. Regardless of where each of us ultimately land on the larger philosophical questions about meat, we have no choice but to recognize that factory farming is utterly reprehensible. And, whether we like it or not, we can't avoid making decisions about what practices we are going to support. Foer reminds us that we need to make those choices deliberately without assuming that farming practices haven't changed since biblical days. He asks us to ask ourselves what kind of "eating animals" we want to be.
Foer helps us remember that our food choices mean more to us than simply taste; the food we spend our lives eating is a meaningful part of who we are. While giving up all animal products doesn't sound terribly simple for any of us, this book has left me thinking for the first time that such a choice is not just necessary, but possible, and most importantly, completely worth it. Because facing the issues in our lives that are the least palatable, and dealing with them head on, is what truly makes us human.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing, eye opening, learned a lot about myself,
This review is from: Eating Animals (Kindle Edition)
I absolutely loved this book. I'm just a regular 43 year old mom. I'm not much of a reader, busy trying to keep work and family going. I read this book on my Kindle (I have read more books since getting the Kindle than I have in my life.) The best thing I can say about the book is that through the stories, the author allow you to come to your own conclusion. That was the best for me.
I loved the chapter titles. I know that may be silly but they always made me think and got me interested from the beginning. There were funny things like "dressed in black in the middle of the night" that were so funny and kept things light. My favorites were Bill and Nicolette, and the cow licking the worker's face.
I wish I could remember when it was that while reading the book I realized that I would never eat again. I knew the suffering that animals went through but choose not to think about it, but I never had realized how eating something that suffered so much bothered me. I know that the poultry industry bothered me the most because it's what I thought the least about before reading the book. The medical reasons, all of the drugs that could be in my kid's bodies. I think the environmental reasons were most surprising. The amount of water it takes to raise these animals and the amount of waste they put out. How our air and water is polluted.
Since there is no health reason to eat meat I can't imagine any other arguement that a person can have with themselves to keep them eating meat. I had always joked that I "lived to eat" and now I can truly say I will enjoy eating to live from now on.
I am so glad that the author wrote the book and so glad that I read it. I hope you read it.
98 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound,
I appreciate the honest look at the meat production industry presented in this book. Most of all I like the style with which Foer communicates his findings. The author reveals a lot of personal information but he also asks the readers to live by their own standards, not his. All that makes it for an easy and even enjoyable reading of a lifestyle book which nonetheless reads like a novel.
Eating Animals is a very inspiring and informative book. I wholeheartedly encourage everybody to consider reading it. Even -- or maybe, especially if -- you are not a vegetarian. It definitely changed the way I view the world. It might do the same to you. And if not, you will at least enjoy reading a book that not only educates but also entertains. And one more thing that I can promise each and every reader -- THIS BOOK WILL REALLY MAKE YOU THINK AND FORCE YOU TO MAKE PROFOUND CHOICES WHICH WILL AFFECT THE WAY YOU LIVE THE REMAINING PART OF YOUR LIFE.
I noticed that some reviewers mention "The Omnivore's Dilemma" as a companion to this book. In my opinion it would be reading the same just by another author. To get a broader view at nutrition and how it affects our health, our longevity, and the world around us I suggest reading "Can we Lve 150 Years" instead.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is before reading this book and there is after,
Had someone told me in November 2009 that I was about to become a vegetarian, I would have laughed. Hard. Prior to reading this book, the chances of that happening were zero. I understand the food chain and it is unfortunate that some animals taste really, really good to other animals, but "some folks is lucky, some ain't." Plus, I was simply just not interested in giving up meat. Then, I read this book. I spent every page thinking to myself, "okay, but how do I get around this?" until finally I ran out of pages and knew what I had to do. Now, a year and a half later, I still feel as altered by what I learned as I did when I first read it. I have challenged most of my friends to read it too. They all laugh at me. "I would never read something that made me not want to eat meat." If this is you, don't read this book. If you truly want to know what you are eating and how we treat the animals we make into food, please do. And if you still want to eat meat after knowing what you will learn from these pages, I am sorry.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A manifesto that doesn't PETA-preach.,
This book is a valued addition to my library. It has a thoroughly researched look into the future of farming animals the American way while not resorting to PETA's militant entrail-tossing methods of vegetarian conversion which are so appalling. As a vegetarian, I would feel comfortable giving this book to my meat-eating friends if they were interested to learn why I chose a vegetarian path.
Foer's book has a lighthearted beginning, getting its start by a mock-argument(albeit a well-researched one)for eating dog. This passage introduces readers to evaluate at why we as a culture eat some animals and not others. Where does our sentimentality begin and our desire for meat with every vegetable end? The book aims to open thoughts and dialog as well as provide facts of the current state of meat farming in the USA.
The importance of this book isn't the potential of converting people over to vegetarianism or veganism, but it makes a compelling argument for how imperative it is ecologically and socially to get away from the factory methods of farming currently used in nearly ALL of America's meat industries. While the book largely does focus on animal suffering under the current factory model, it also highlights facts about how factory farms keep meat prices artificially deflated, and the health impacts of workers and residents.
This book is an engaging read, supported by facts, but not drowning in footnotes. It inspired some good peaceful conversations among my omnivorous family and myself as to why I have made the choices that I have.
272 of 346 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confused,
First, there was Michael Pollan, whose book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," a book I deeply admire, exposed the horrors (and yes, they are horrors) of what is now called "factory farming" and the devastating effects of agribusiness on the American diet. And there was Barbara Kingsolver, whose chatty family experiment in local eating ("Animal, Vegetable, Miracle") popularized the notion of growing your own or at least patronizing the local farmer's market. Now there is Jonathan Safran Foer, who deploys his considerable literary gifts against factory farming of every kind (pork, poultry, and fish, primarily, Pollan having already covered beef). Foer is a recent convert to vegetarianism and to philosophical ideas about animal rights. He proselytizes with a convert's zeal, beginning with a clever Swiftian analysis of why it might be as acceptable to eat dogs as it is to eat chicken. His depictions of giant crowded poultry houses, of sprawling hog farms and their lagoons of manure, of the tons of discarded "bycatch" of fishing trawlers are riveting and utterly appalling.
This is also a deeply confused book. On the one hand, Foer is drawn to the absolutist position: it is never acceptable to eat animals. Farming, he feels, even humane family farming, must inevitably inflict pain, if only at slaughter, so one must always abstain. This position, however, is never explored deeply, only stated, again and again. Foer never clearly says whether he is a vegetarian or a vegan, although logic would require the latter. He briefly discusses egg layers (and their inevitable byproduct, male layer chickens) He does not discuss dairy farming (and its inevitable byproduct, male calves). What to do with those male chickens and calves? Does he eschew leather, a byproduct of cattle slaughter? He does not say. Furthermore, he includes sympathetic portraits of a number of small scale farmers whose treatment of animals seems admirable, although they always fail Foer's standard of "no pain should be inflicted, not ever." Occasionally, he retreats even from his measured admiration, as when he takes a gratuitous slap at Joel Salatin, the poultry farmer Pollan admires in "Omnivore." He cannot bring himself to say, as Pollan does, that eating as little meat as possible and seeking out humanely raised meat might be a good idea for some. Instead, he draws (offensive, I thought) parallels between the civil rights movement and the animal rights movement.
The book held my attention until about the halfway point, when it ran out of gas and began to recycle its arguments. This is a book heavily dependent on book learning (copious notes), as opposed to the work of someone who had spent considerable time on a farm or around animals (undercover PETA expeditions excluded). It is, one could say, an urban book by an urban author for an urban audience that surely needs a good shake as it reaches for the package of cheap Tyson chicken thighs at the Fairway. (The ready availability of chicken parts-- packages that contain only breasts or thighs or wings--is a direct result of factory farming.) I'm all for any author who can get people to think about--and hopefully rebel against--the unhealthful and cruel practices of assembly line meat production. But if one can never inflict pain on an animal, what am I to do when hornworms devour my (organic) tomato crop or potato beetles defoliate the potatoes? Foer is eloquent when he discusses the nervous systems of fish in relation to their awareness of pain. He doesn't say anything about insects.
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Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (Paperback - 2009)
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