I just finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, and boy, did it fuck me sideways!
I thought I knew things about things! I mean, obviously I knew many terrors of factory farming, one of the largest reasons I don’t eat meat! But I can’t really stomach all those scary PETA videos so I don’t watch them because they give me nightmares, like the time in college I had to drop anatomy because I developed severe anxiety over the thrice weekly cadaver lab where I had to slice and dice an old dead lady that reminded me of my Nani!
Anyways, I love Foer’s fiction which was part of the reason I picked up the book. I once listened to Everything is Illuminated while driving to Va, and it may just have been the hilarious accents the guy reading the tape put on, but those 8 hours flew by. Foer, a life-long on again off again vegetarian (commitment issues!), starts researching factory farming after the birth of his son, as he is wondering what to feed him—meat, or no meat?—and where the food comes from. At the start of his journey Foer is a locavore, picky about where his meat comes from, but still eating it. By the end, he is a full on vegetarian. The book has some startling statistics, and it will be hard for me to hold my tongue the next time one of my good intentioned friends says “oh I only eat fish because they have no feelings.” (People don’t like to hear about their food being tortured, so I usually don’t rant about animal abuse unless provoked…)
The title of the book states not only the obvious, that we eat animals, but also that WE are ANIMALS that EAT. It has great themes about food as the bond between people and traditions and families, about the importance of sharing a meal together and what it symbolizes, and a sprinkling of amusing anecdotes and Foer’s general easy-reading style of writing. Also, the first chapter makes a convincing (satirical) argument on why, common sense-wise, if we were to eat any animals, it should be dogs! Outrageous!
For some reason, whenever I refer the book to people I call it Feeding Animals instead of Eating Animals. I even wrote it a few times in this post and had to correct myself! I suppose I like the image of me at a happy farm feeding a sweet big-eyed cow some grass rather than me with a steak on my plate. Anyways…
Read it! Go!