Eating Animals

Eating Animals

4.2 219
by Jonathan Safran Foer
     
 

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Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood-facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child's behalf-his casual questioning took on an urgency His quest for answers ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the

Overview


Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood-facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child's behalf-his casual questioning took on an urgency His quest for answers ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the emotional ingredients of meals from his childhood, and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong. Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir and his own detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting. Marked by Foer's profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, widely loved, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we've told-and the stories we now need to tell.

Editorial Reviews

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.
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Kirkus Reviews
Celebrated novelist Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, 2005, etc.) examines the ethics and practical realities of eating things with faces. The author's first book-length work of nonfiction opens with a reminiscence of a grandmother who scraped for food to stay alive during the dark years of the Holocaust, yet refused to violate kashrut law to eat a proffered piece of pork, saying, "If nothing matters, there's nothing to save." Against that time of want and the food insecurity his grandmother expressed for the rest of her life, Foer examines this time of too-muchness, of cupboards full of luxuries and days full of meaty meals made possible by an elaborate system of factories, stockyards and slaughterhouses. "Eating animals," he writes, "is one of those topics, like abortion, where it is impossible to definitively know some of the most important details . . . and that cuts right to one's deepest discomforts, often provoking defensiveness or aggression." To his credit, the author is not shy of exploring his own discomforts while engaging in near-Talmudic analyses of the finer points of being a carnivore: If a pig is as smart as, if not smarter, than a dog and just as fond of playing with toys, then why aren't they allowed to curl up next to the fire with us? Of course, Foer allows, there are cultures where eating dogs is considered a good thing, though none that come to mind where having pigs as pets is common. Given the environmental costs of eating meat-"for every ten tuna, sharks, and other large predatory fish that were in our oceans fifty to a hundred years ago, only one is left"-and the looming sense that a time of scarcity is again in the offing, Foer's case for ethicalvegetarianism is wholly compelling. A blend of solid-and discomforting-reportage with fierce advocacy that will make committed carnivores squeal.
Entertainment Weekly
"Stirring....compelling, earnest...Foer brings an invigorating moral clarity to the topic."
Andrew Weil
Eating Animals carefully, deliberately, takes you through every relevant dimension of factory farming...One sees it from the inside, the outside, the moral high ground, the dithering consumer level, through Foer's family stories, from slaughterhouse workers, animal behaviorists, even from defenders of the system... Foer's aim is not to make your choice, but to inform it. He has done us all a great service, and we, and the animals, owe him our thanks.
The Huffington Post
Jennifer Schuessler
[Eating Animals] is a postmodern version of Peter Singer's 1975 manifesto Animal Liberation...Foer is the latest in a long line of distinguished literary vegetarians.
New York Times Book Review
Geoff Nicholson
A work of moral philosophy...After reading this book, it's hard to disagree [with Foer].
San Francisco Chronicle
Holly Silva
[Eating Animals] is extraordinarily thoughtful and intelligent, and reads more like philosophy than journalism.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Geoff Nicholson - San Francisco Chronicle
"A work of moral philosophy...After reading this book, it's hard to disagree [with Foer]."
Holly Silva - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[Eating Animals] is extraordinarily thoughtful and intelligent, and reads more like philosophy than journalism."
Philadelphia Daily News
"Eating Animals stands as a pop-cultural landmark, destined to be the starting point for a lot of overdue conversations."
Susan Salter Reynolds
Some of our finest journalists (Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser) and animal rights activists (Peter Singer, Temple Grandin)-not to mention Gandhi, Jesus, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke and Immanuel Kant (and so many others)-have hurled themselves against the question of eating meat and the moral issues inherent in killing animals for food. Foer, 32, in this, his first work of nonfiction, intrepidly joins their ranks...It is the kind of wisdom that, in all its humanity and clarity, deserves a place at the table with our greatest philosophers.
Los Angeles Times
Jennifer Schuessler - New York Times Book Review
"[Eating Animals] is a postmodern version of Peter Singer's 1975 manifesto Animal Liberation...Foer is the latest in a long line of distinguished literary vegetarians."
Susan Salter Reynolds - Los Angeles Times
"Some of our finest journalists (Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser) and animal rights activists (Peter Singer, Temple Grandin)-not to mention Gandhi, Jesus, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke and Immanuel Kant (and so many others)-have hurled themselves against the question of eating meat and the moral issues inherent in killing animals for food. Foer, 32, in this, his first work of nonfiction, intrepidly joins their ranks...It is the kind of wisdom that, in all its humanity and clarity, deserves a place at the table with our greatest philosophers."
All Things Considered NPR
"Eating Animals isn't just an anti-meat screed, or an impassioned case for vegetarianism. Instead, Foer tells a story that is part memoir and part investigative report....It's a book that takes America's meat-dominated diet to task."
MD Andrew Weil
"Foer's aim is not to make your choice, but to inform it. He has done us all a great service, and we, and the animals, owe him our thanks."
J.M. Coetzee
"The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer's book, continues to consume the industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both."
Dr. Andrew Weil - The Huffington Post
"Eating Animals carefully, deliberately, takes you through every relevant dimension of factory farming...One sees it from the inside, the outside, the moral high ground, the dithering consumer level, through Foer's family stories, from slaughterhouse workers, animal behaviorists, even from defenders of the system... Foer's aim is not to make your choice, but to inform it. He has done us all a great service, and we, and the animals, owe him our thanks."
The Oprah Magazine O
PRAISE FOR EATING ANIMALS:

"For a hot young writer to train his sights on a subject as unpalatable as meat production and consumption takes raw nerve. What makes Eating Animals so unusual is vegetarian Foer's empathy for human meat eaters, his willingness to let both factory farmers and food reform activists speak for themselves, and his talent for using humor to sweeten a sour argument."

From the Publisher
"Stirring...compelling....Foer brings an invigorating moral clarity to the topic."—Entertainment Weekly"

Eating Animals isn't just an anti-meat screed, or an impassioned case for vegetarianism. Instead, Foer tells a story that is part memoir and part investigative report....It's a book that takes America's meat-dominated diet to task."—NPR, All Things Considered

"Foer's aim is not to make your choice, but to inform it. He has done us all a great service, and we, and the animals, owe him our thanks."—Andrew Weil, MD"

Foer's case for ethical vegetarianism is wholly compelling....Eating Animals is a blend of solid-and discomforting-reportage with fierce advocacy that will make committed carnivores squeal."—Kirkus Reviews"

A work of moral philosophy....The fact that Foer makes me wonder whether I'm being, at best, a hypocrite every time I eat a piece of beef suggests he's completely successful in at least one ambition." —San Francisco Chronicle"

Extraordinarily thoughtful and intelligent." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch"

Eating Animals stands as a pop-cultural landmark, destined to be the starting point for a lot of overdue conversations." —Philadelphia Daily News"

For a hot young writer to train his sights on a subject as unpalatable as meat production and consumption takes raw nerve. What makes Eating Animals so unusual is vegetarian Foer's empathy for human meat eaters, his willingness to let both factory farmers and food reform activists speak for themselves, and his talent for using humor to sweeten a sour argument."—
O, The Oprah Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316086646
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
11/02/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
33,697
File size:
6 MB

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What People are saying about this

J.M. Coetzee
The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer's book, continues to consume the industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both.

Meet the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. His books have been translated into thirty-six languages. Everything Is Illuminated received a National Jewish Book Award and a Guardian First Book Award, and was made into a film by Liev Schreiber. Foer lives in Brooklyn.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
February 21, 1977
Place of Birth:
Washington, D.C.
Education:
B.A. in Philosophy, Princeton University, 1999

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Eating Animals 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 219 reviews.
phishy73 More than 1 year ago
I already know I won't ever eat a chicken again. Now, I'm working on getting eggs out of my diet as well. Even if you think you've read and heard it all about how our factory farms operate, read this book anyway. You will learn something new. I've been an on again, off again vegetarian, (like the author) and after I'm finished with this book, it will be very hard to be even a casual meat eater. It may just turn me vegan! I also love the fact that he takes both sides of the argument by including letters from the people that work at factory farms, but really, I don't believe feeding the world has to destroy it. Americans eat too much meat, plain and simple. That's why we have a lot more disease and obesity in this country than anywhere else in the world. The Western diet is the most unhealthy, disease promoting diet on the planet, and yet people are so unwilling to change. Find out the facts and do what feels right to you. I think it's funny to live in a country where if you mention you don't eat meat, people get angry with you and wonder what your problem is. Now I know those people just feel guilty or feel like I'm quietly criticizing them. We have to be conscious eaters or we will be unhealthy. Mr. Foer has done loads of research and all we have to do is read this book. Highly recommend this book!
Early17 More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book for anyone. Even those who already think they are on the writers side will be moved. Hopefully this book will wake up others to the dire problem we are living in.
Read247X More than 1 year ago
I can't tell you how surprised i was that in the beginning Foer dedicates a whole chapter to the story of his childhood and his grandmother. I'm nearly done with the book, and i actually finding myself wishing it would be longer. What i like about it is that he mingles with the gritty facts a witty humor and pairs them against touching stories and truthful insights. He shows the story from all sides. He looks at the subject of eating animals as a verb (the action of our eating them) and as a adj+noun pair (the animals that we eat). And he asks the vital questions in non-confrontational ways. We can eat meat...but does that mean we should? He guides you through his mindset of how he became a vegetarian with facts. Its almost like you're sitting there with him as he tells the story. Uncovering the methods of factory farming is something most of us would rather not do. I have been a vegetarian for a little over 4 months now, and i'm more convinced than ever. Farming used to be an honorable thing. My grandparents did it in their backyards. But just the combination of the words "factory" and "farming" should be enough to show how the scales have been tipped. We are eating mutants, plain and simple. Turkeys can't even reproduce naturally. This book educates you without making you hate the people responsible. Foer interviews many, including ranchers and slaughterhouse managers. He shows the story from their side. He presents us with the question of, "Is it possible to be a conscious omnivore?" (To eat meat that was not factory farmed.) He goes on to say it IS possible, but extremely difficult. All in all, it is a novel much more complex than you would assume. Vegetarian or staunch carnivore, it should be read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very educational in more ways than one. Not only giving the view point on an animal's life but the view point on the farmer's, too. The research was great and the facts are original, probably the best I've seen in a book. Which is why I would recommend this book to anyone, even if you're not for animal rights just because it is that interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most of us have read, seen, or heard people talk about Food, Inc. This book is on the same wavelength. The author investigates farming factories to learn how animals are raised, processed, and packaged. What he uncovers is quite disturbing, sad, and disgusting, hence my current vegetarian status. Everyone should learn about American factory farms, what's happening to these animals, and what our bodies have been allegedly absorbing, all starting in the late 80's, early 90's and increasingly worsening into the present day. The downside to this book is his memoir style of writing that looks into the food culture of his past and his values for his nutrition and his family's. I couldn't help but ask myself on many occasions, who cares? But, I guess it's good to see his motivation and passion. The bottom line is that the book presents practically inarguable facts that should be life changing, if you're willing to go there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Foer deftly draws the picture of factory farms in 21st century America, and if you've somehow managed to miss all the newspaper articles, news reports, tv shows, websites, etc., about this institutionalized cruelty, do yourself a favor and buy this book. Every American has a right to know about where our food comes from and how that "food" is treated during its life. What I particularly enjoyed about this book is that Foer includes interviews of and essays written by people in the industry; by hog farmers, by slaughterhouse workers, by people raising organic meat - and they make good arguments, too (though I don't mean to mislead you - it's always clear what Foer's opinion is about the matter at hand).
AKFreeBird More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Jonathan Safran Foer! My eyes are wide open! I have heard horror stories about factory farms for years, and have always tried to purchase free range family farm products but this book is a real wakeup call for me and hopefully many others. I began reading "Eating Animals" with the intention of learning more about where our food comes from and hopefully learn some ways to use my dollar (as a consumer) to combat the horrific treatment of animals raised for food. What first struck a chord with me is the notion that we are cognizant beings with a choice as to what we eat. Animal flesh is not necessary for our survival but rather a cultural, social, and automatic response for many of us. It goes hand in hand with feelings of acceptance, togetherness, and taste. I had no idea that by the end of this read I would be changing my diet because of it. The information presented is stunningly graphic, uncensored, and real. But, ultimately it is really important and will change the way you think of food. Through education and awareness, we arm ourselves with the tools to make a switch in the way the farming industry in America (and the rest of the world) operates.
xasiandollx More than 1 year ago
Eye opening! I have not eaten meat since I read this book a few months ago. Not for the weak stomach. Some details are horrifying.
daisy5717 More than 1 year ago
I have been vegetarian off and on throughout the years, just like the author, but it will be hard to ever enjoy meat again. Before I picked up this book I had already set my mind to become vegetarian again, and now my goal now is to become vegan. but this book reveals the horrid disgusting truth about factory farming and makes you really think about the decisions you make with the food you eat. It is a must read.
jooleanne More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the read.
rachellovesanimals55RJ More than 1 year ago
A driving force behind your next meal choice... I’ve read quite a few books on the animal welfare movement, and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is one of my favorites. This book, in summary, analyzes how animal products in the United States are produced and sold to consumers. The author presents the reader with facts about the meat-packing industry, and presents possible solutions to the horrendous conditions exposed in his studies. Unlike many books that address the idea of vegetarianism and veganism, Eating Animals does not brainwash the reader into giving up meat and dairy products. This book is the perfect balance between offering an argument and presenting the facts to go along with it. Safran Foer does not make the reader feel guilty for eating meat, but rather gives them the inspiration, and assistance, to make a change. The amount of evidence that Foer gave to defend his arguments absolutely blew me away. There was no shortage of graphic worker testimonials (those were the driving force behind why I gave up meat), references to government law, and shocking statistics from various censuses. It is quite obvious that the author spent a great amount of time researching and writing this novel. I highly recommend this book to anybody who has a passion for animals and a desire to do their part on the issue of animal rights and animal welfare. It is a must-read for vegetarians and vegans alike, but beware, many situations exposed in this book are very graphic and require a tough stomach. However, the author’s willingness to expose these harsh truths of the food industry is one of the main reasons to read this book. All omnivores definitely should educate themselves about where their meat and dairy products are coming from, so they can make informed decisions that affect the well-being of themselves, their family, and planet earth. This book really opened my eyes- I highly recommend it to anybody who is willing to read it!
Katie79 More than 1 year ago
The very beginning of this novel had me intrigued. I had never really thought about why I ate any sort of animal. It was more or less something taught to me from my parents sort of like putting on a coat before you go out in a snow storm. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor and honest revelations Foer sets out to conquer in this book. I was also surprised at what really goes on behind the scenes in the food industry. I found this to be an intriguing read. It really makes you think. I've also walked away with a greater knowledge from both sides of the spectrum.
tsmvp More than 1 year ago
We need to keep in mind one thing. As with any other industry/business, there are good and bad ones. I say that because my own family owned a poultry farm, working for a much larger company (so they would provide the birds/food and come back to pick them up 42-45 days later). Compared to the book, it is indeed very accurate BUT at least on our own place, with 7,000 birds, things were definitely not as described (meaning horrendous) as in the book. It was actually pretty good and I would let anyone in to see how the birds were raised/treated. What happend later at the slaughter house, I have no idea and cannot comment on that. The main point is simple: if human beings want to eat for no money at all, on the really cheap side, there is no other way to do without the big farming operations. It gets down to you, to decide if you want to pay a premium (like I do) to get your food from small, local producers that raise their animals (poultry, pork, beef) the way it was done 60, 80 years ago. What I liked the most is the author, even though he is a vegetarian, does NOT try to brainwash you to become one; all he wants is to show you the facts of farming in America. He leaves it up to you to decide what to do once you have all the information. It is a great reading and will definitely make you think twice when shopping at your big chain grocery store.
AnimalLoverMG More than 1 year ago
I'm an animal lover and it was very hard for me to read this book but it has changed my life. I would recommend this book for everyone to read just so they know how unreputable and corrupt the meat industry is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As i progressed through the book i became increasingly amazed at how rounded the author's evidence is. Not only did his testimonials offer manny dufferent point of views on the subject of the meat industry, but he provided information on so many things related to the meat industry that most people rarely consider. This take on the health risks and enviromental impacts of what we eat is truely thought proviking. I've reccomended ths book to lots of friends and coworkers and especially my family, it really makes you take an informed lifestyle and moral decision.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heartfelt yet factually supported argument against the status quo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Notes are not linked in the text. Great read though.
Gladtobehere More than 1 year ago
It has been a while since i have read a book that does such a good job of presenting current information on the state of the animal food industries. I appreciate his inclusion of perspectives from the other side, the folks who are actually raising the animals. He also presents a lot of information on how, even in supposedly better "free-range" type circumstances, there are still concerns to be addressed. Foer's writing style and skill keep this an interesting read all the way through.
John Fico More than 1 year ago
crystal_g More than 1 year ago
This book was exceptional - a real page-turner. I couldn't put it down. Foer is vegetarian, but he writes so eloquently and in an unbiased fashion. He combines humor with reality and introduces facts that I, as an animal advocate, had never before known. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is brave enough to know the truth behind factory farming!
Amy Nielson More than 1 year ago
...But already hooked! The first 15 pages flew by (trial version) and I immediately bought it after so I could continue. Can't wait for more!
csaint More than 1 year ago
Being a huge fan of Jonathan Safran Foer's fiction, I will admit that when I saw his latest title was non fiction and had to to with vegetarianism--I was less than excited. Yet, I decided to give it a try and I will be thankful I took the time for the rest of my life. I had been exposed to the Vegetarian culture earlier in my life, but never imagined I would follow. The way that Foer mixed his own family's stories in with factual evidence created a very convincing case. I brought the book home and my wife and I (both being gigantic animal lovers) decided to make the change. I have never been healthier!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book because it was very interesting and I learned about and considered things I would probably have never considered. After reading it, I am more convinced of moving toward a meat-free life style. Wonderful work Mr. Foer!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I became a vegetarian this year because I decided that if I wasn't willing to kill an animal myself to eat it, I shouldn't probably eat it. After reading this book, with its vivid descriptions of slaughtering practices, I cannot eat animals anymore. I do think that he did justice to the subject and provided a balanced look at the types of meat that are available. He talked about farms like the one that I grew up on ... small, organic, subsistence-based. But so much of our meat is not produced this way, the thesis is clear. I really appreciated the work and effort that went into the book. Thank you Mr. Foer.
VeganRunner More than 1 year ago
This book is not groundbreaking, it's not revolutionary, and it won't tell you much more than you already know if you're immersed in the vegan or animal rights movements. However, I think it has a good introductory tone and it will touch people in ways that other, more direct books will not. Safran speaks in a stream of consciousness approach at times, and I often found it a bit tangential, but he eventually makes his way back. He is honest and forthright with his emotions and reactions, and his honesty is appreciated. It's an easy, quick read, and I suggest it for anyone interested in animal rights. You might not learn anything new, but it's always good to brush up, right? It's also a good book for anyone just entering into the realm, so it would make a good gift for that specific someone.