Let's review: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


This book, Eating Animals, so many words come to mind in a big giant mess.. Have you read it? If you have an interest in food, if you eat - you should read this. There, that was pretty clear, wasn't it. 
I finished reading this book, the day before I'm writing this and frankly, I'm tempted to turn to page one and read it again. 

So where do I begin with this review. Let's begin with the fact, that I was already fairly smitten with Mr. Safran Foer's writing style before reading this book. Everything is Illuminated is a fantastic read in my opinion. While Eating Animals is not fiction, storytelling is still at the centre of it. 

It's a mixture of his own debacles with eating animals, his (final) decision on a vegetarian lifestyle, kafka, statistics, interviews and even someone bashing Joel Salatin, a man I really admire. This book seems to have it all... Here are some of the questions that came to mind while and after reading it.

Is this just a vegetarian trying to convince me to become one?

Yes and no. mr. Safran Foer puts it pretty bluntly that he thinks anyone but vegetarians are fooling themselves, even the so called ethical omnivores. His personal view seems to be, that the only way you can truly avoid and change the meat industry is by being a vegetarian. 
However, his main goal seems to be educational. He provides a swarm of information and then asks: Knowing this, can you still justify eating meat? 

This book, naturally focussing on the American meat industry, distances itself from me somewhat. I live far away from those practices, don't I? I live in a place where we do not water cool chickens, Mr. Safran Foer told me so himself. Add to that the age of the book (first published in 2009) and I have reasons enough to discard everything he tells me, or do I?

The fact of the matter is that I don't. I'm not naïve enough to believe, that I live in a country where animals are treated as they should be by the farmers and given a quick, painless, humane death after a life of frolicking on pasture. 

Did he convince me then?

The short answer is no. The long answer is complex and according to Mr. Safran Foer, not an answer at all.
You see, my man and I don't eat a lot of meat. In any given week our meals are somewhere between 50-85% vegetarian. So why aren't we just biting the bullet and doing it 100%? Because I believe in eating animals. I believe in nurturing my body by the consummation of carcasses, however gross that may sound to you. 

I would love to tell you now, how I'm one of those ethical carnivores, who really makes it work. That I only buy our meat from small farmers and butchers, that we know they lived like true chickens, pigs, and cow. 
Right now, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the meat we do buy isn't even organic, because we simply can't afford it. 

The demand of cheap food

Now, that makes us pretty average consumers, doesn't it? The very ones Mr. Safran Foer rightly points out to be the driving force behind the continuation of the industrial meat industry. I would like to think this isn't entirely the case. We spent 25% of our monthly net income on food, which, at least at a glance, is a lot more than most U.S. citizens do.  As our income grows our food choices improves.
We all have a limited amount to spend on food each week. We all make choices every time we buy something. We used to buy mostly organic, but as we discovered my lactose intolerance, that changed. We choose to prioritize my immediate gut health over the long term effects of eating organically. We still have our non-negotiables that are always organic and always buy everything else organic when we can afford it, but living a life without lactose is our top priority and it is costly.
The same goes for meat. We choose the best kinds when we can, and we have certain kinds of meat that are NEVER allowed into our home, basta.
As our income grows, we'll be able to make even better choices. This is our answers, the non-answer according to Mr. Safran Foer and maybe he is right.

It's the thought that counts

None of us are changing the world by thinking. Only acting on our thoughts makes an actual difference. But I'm still tempted to claim that it is the though that counts in this case. It is my firm conviction that we should all know what we are eating, how it was produced, slaughtered, butchered, transported, stored, the whole shebang. But even the slightest grain of awareness brings us closer to a better world. You may not be able to revolutionise your eating habits today, but you should be able to think about them. Admit where you stand right now, don't be ashamed. Then dream up where you want to end up, make small goals and get moving in the right direction.


Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic and the book, Eating Animals, in the comments. I would love to hear what your two cents are.


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