Monday, November 9, 2009

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals is the first non-fiction book (other than cookbooks) that has caught my interest in a while. The author of Everything Is Illuminated researched eating animals in preparation for the birth of his child so that he could make an informed decision about his child's diet. Foer is no animal rights activist, but someone who previously ate a vegetarian diet on-and-off, and who is interested in knowing the facts behind his food. This book shares his research, including visits to family farms, interviews with factory farm workers, and nights spent with an animal activist during farm visits.

Each chapter begins by highlighting one fact, and these alone will cause reflection. Consider that "Less than 1% of the animals killed for meat in America come from family farms." Visualize that "in the typical cage for egg-laying hens, each bird has 67 square inches of space". Foer includes an image to demonstrate just how small this is.

The information presented never seemed dry to me, a credit to Foer's writing style and creative strategies for illustrating points. Sometimes Foer approaches subjects by raising questions to challenge our assumptions, such as his examination of A Case for Eating Dogs. Foer even looks at the emotional ties we have to food, as well as the social implications of our food choices. I found his tone consistently respectful and not preachy.

Reading information that could rock your world does pose some risks. Living without that information has consequences as well.


  1. sounds interesting,
    as much as i don't enjoy what goes on with abused animals, its important to know that it DOES happen.
    i'll have to check it out!

  2. I just bought this for my dad for Xmas. Partly b/c I love him, and partly b/c I'm vegangelical.

  3. I've been reading the book since the weekend, and I'm almost done, which is way faster than I usually read.

    You're right on about his writing, and he strikes a tone I haven't seen in other books on animal rights. I'm in the middle of the chapter on pigs in factory farms at the moment, which is devastating without feeling manipulative or exaggerated. I guess that's the point, simply laying out the facts. It was the hardest thing I've read in a long time, but I'm so grateful a writer of his stature is taking this on.

  4. Thanks for the review. I'll have to pick that one up!

  5. I will have to check this book out the next time I am wandering through the bookstore or the library. Thanks for the review.

  6. Thanks for the review. I've been seeing alot of articles recently on this book and Jonathan Safran.

  7. I just watched Food, inc...and I'm curious about this book. Thanks for the review. I'll have to check it out.

    grace & peace,


  8. I'll have to request this from the library because it sounds like a good read. I saw an interview with the author and he seemed really cool.

  9. I almost bought this book... but then I remembered that I don't have much time for reading. I do really want to read it at some point, I just know it will take me a long time to get around to finishing it!

  10. Am reading the Foer book now and "eating up" the pages (been veg since 12; exploring veganism now). Even the "converted" can learn things, rejuvenate their ideas. Well worth a look. Don't forget Peter Singer's amazing book Animal Liberation -- an "oldie but goodie."


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