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Eating Animals Hardcover – November 2, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The latest from novelist Foer is a surprising but characteristically brilliant memoir-investigation, boasting an exhaustively-argued account of one man-child's decade-long struggle with vegetarianism. On the eve of becoming a father, Foer takes all the arguments for and against vegetarianism a neurotic step beyond and, to decide how to feed his coming baby, investigates everything from the intelligence level of our most popular meat providers-cattle, pigs, and poultry-to the specious self-justifications (his own included) for eating some meat products and not others. Foer offers a lighthearted counterpoint to his investigation in doting portraits of his loving grandmother, and her meat-and-potatoes comfort food, leaving him to wrestle with the comparative weight of food's socio-cultural significance and its economic-moral-political meaning. Without pulling any punches-factory farming is given the full expose treatment-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.
*Starred Review* If this book were packaged like a loaf of bread, its Nutrition Facts box would list high percentages of graphic descriptions of factory farm methods of animal breeding, mass confinement, and assembly-line slaughter as well as the brutality and waste of high-tech fishing methods; fresh studies of animal (fish included) intelligence and their capacity for suffering; and undiluted facts about industrial animal agriculture’s major role in global warming. Sensitive to the centrality of food in culture and family life, Foer, author of the novels Everything Is Illuminated (2002) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), frames his first nonfiction book within the story of his Holocaust survivor grandmother’s complex relationship with food and his response to fatherhood. He presents assiduously assembled facts (supported by70 pages of end notes) about the miserable lives and deaths of industrialized chickens, pigs, fish, and cattle and about agricultural pollution and how factory farming engenders species-leaping flu pandemics. He also asks philosophical questions, such as why we eat such smart and affectionate animals as pigs but not dogs. Foer brings extraordinary artistry, clarity, valor, and compassion to this staggering investigation into the ethics, horrors, and dangers of factory farming. An indelible book that should reach a diverse audience and deepen the conversation about how best to live on a rapidly changing planet. --Donna Seaman
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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.
Jonathan Safran Foer does a wonderful job of remaining objective throughout the book; he doesn’t try to persuade anyone to do anything, but rather simply shares the facts he finds out.
I was required to read this book for a class I took in college, but I’m glad I read it – I’m a vegetarian and this book was part of the reason why I chose to become one.
Even if you’re convinced you’ll never give up meat or dairy, this book is still an important read to shed light on the goings-on of the meat and dairy industries. I would highly recommend it.
It is the first thing that has compelled me to take a firm stance within my own framework. And it has encouraged me to be vocal with others.
This book should be compulsory reading for everyone who purchases food. Meaning, yes, just about everybody!
Thank you Jonathan Safran Foer for another masterpiece. From someone who doesn't read non-fiction :)