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Thoughts on ‘Eating Animals’

August 11, 2010

I finished reading ‘Eating Animals’ this weekend but needed a few days to process my thoughts before blogging about the book.

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Unlike ‘An Omnivore’s Dilemma’ or ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,’ this is definitely a pro-vegetarian – no, pro-vegan – book. It’s much closer to ‘Skinny Bitch’ than anything out there, although more tolerant of meat-eaters and people who raise (and slaughter) animals.

Those who do it humanely, that is. Factory farming definitely doesn’t get a pass here, not by a long shot.

My favorite point Foer makes is about ‘all or nothing.’ So many people feel the pressure – I definitely do! – to either go all the way or do nothing. Give up dairy entirely or stick to soy. Swear off salmon or eat sushi every night.

But I believe strongly that every action makes a difference, whether you give up meat forever or just one day a week. Baby steps. That’s why Meatless Monday has been effective.

Another great point: Eating is a social activity but the company is more important than the food. Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? Why do we feel obligated to cater to omnivores more than vegetarians?

Like in ‘Skinny Bitch,’ many of the descriptions of animal slaughter and the treatment of the animals while still alive made me feel physically ill. I guess that’s a good thing but the book was hard to get through at parts because of that.

So what about the book didn’t I like?

In the opening pages, Foer writes that the book isn’t intended to be pro-vegetarian but merely pro-informed eating. Okay, I can go with that.

But by the end, he’s done a complete 180 and admits that he wrote the book to encourage people to stop eating meat. It just seemed… deceptive.

That said, ‘Eating Animals’ is a must-read, especially for anyone interested in becoming a vegetarian or just learning more about where meat comes from. I liked that Foer manages to refute some of the most common anti-vegetarian arguments, including my favorite: ‘But how do you get protein?’

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Being an educated consumer is, to me, more important than being an omnivore or vegetarian. Once you have the facts, you choose what to do with them but at least you can’t plead ignorance.

Have you read ‘Eating Animals’? What do you think of the all-or-nothing food mindset?

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2010 9:40 pm

    I really liked it. I actually read it before I went completely vegetarian and it helped cement my choice.

    I’ve tried to lend it to my mother, but she’s afraid to read it because she doesn’t want to have to give up meat.

  2. August 12, 2010 8:10 am

    Thanks for the review. This book has been on my reading list since it came out.
    I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with, but I know that the meat that I DO eat is probably not from the best sources. I don’t think I would give up on meat entirely but I know that I should cut back. I imagine reading this book would make me want to cut WAY back.

    Ps love the cartoon!

  3. louisianagrown permalink
    August 12, 2010 10:14 am

    I haven’t read the book, but I definitely don’t agree with the all-or-nothing mindset. If I choose to eat meat at a few of my meals, should I just go ahead and have a Big Mac for breakfast, lunch and dinner? I don’t think so.

    • August 12, 2010 5:47 pm

      Or, conversely, should you *have* to call yourself a vegetarian if you prefer to eat mostly vegetables, thereby feeling obligated to *never* order meat or fish? It’s too harsh.

  4. August 12, 2010 2:03 pm

    I’ve never read this book (do I really need to? lol) but it sounds pretty good. And I agree that a lot of people get stuck in the ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset which turns them away from vegetarian/vegan options. Every little bit counts!

    • August 12, 2010 5:48 pm

      You def don’t need to read it if you’re already a committed veg or if you’ve read Skinny Bitch/Omn Dilemm.

  5. August 12, 2010 3:02 pm

    Never read the book either but I am all about making our own choices. I am a recent vegan and for me, not eating any meat but including soy products is my choice. It is a sort of all or nothing for me but it is not for everyone. What to eat is really a personal choice.

    • August 12, 2010 5:48 pm

      Love the bit about personal choice — SO true!

  6. August 12, 2010 5:39 pm

    I read the book and had the opposite reaction – I thought it was very watered down and not very pro-vegetarian. Compared to other books anyway. It was strange it got so much press. We participated in that though – we went to see Foer speak 😉

    • August 12, 2010 5:49 pm

      I think it was watered-down in that Foer obviously accepts ‘humane’ meat to a degree, although he wouldn’t eat any, but he definitely wasn’t as ready to condemn meat eaters as other writers (say Skinny Bitch) are.

  7. August 12, 2010 7:41 pm

    Great review. I am looking to read either Skinny Bitch, Eating Animals or Omn Del. What one would you recommend?

    • August 13, 2010 8:01 am

      I loved Omn Dilemma because it presented the most balanced view (IMO) and has great info for people of all eating styles, not just veg.

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