Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (Book Review)

Jonathan Foer’s, Eating Animals, has been on my ‘to-read’ list since forever. When I happened to stumble upon it at a GoodWill store for less than a cup of coffee, I knew I had to give it a read. And I’m thankful I did.

Eating Animals is, yes, about eating animals. But more specifically, it’s about the intersectionality between the ethics of animal husbandry, between the cruel, unsustainable farming and slaughter methods of ‘factory-farming’, and between the complex reality that eating meat is a deeply enmeshed fabric of our society’s culture. Yes, Foer’s appetite is voracious (excuse the terrible pun), but he approaches each subject thoughtfully, with a philosopher’s curiosity and a journalist’s attention to detail, to unpack three years worth of meaty research.

Eating Animals succeeds, mainly, because of Foer’s talent for weaving otherwise bone-dry facts about factory-farming into a human-focused narrative that gets us thinking about our consumption of meat in new, important ways (e.g. Would Thanksgiving be the same if we didn’t serve turkey?). One particular night, Foer recounts, he (along with an animal-rights activist acting as his guide) sneaks into the barn of a factory-farm for a glimpse of the conditions in which the animals are kept, inside. His findings were— are, appalling; tens of thousands (he estimates 30,000 in one barn) of chickens confined in wire-cages (the platforms of which were the size of 8×11” paper). The chickens themselves were all sickly-looking, covered in shit, and, it seemed (due to genetic modification), always, always, in pain. Before leaving, Foer’s guide finds a chicken with scabs over its eyes. Instead of letting it suffer, she slits its throat, ending its misery. And, as Foer notes, we actually pay people to do this.

Eating Animals is worth reading for the education of how meat is produced in America, alone— 99% of our nation’s meat comes from inhumane factory-farms. Foer’s mission, he admits, isn’t to convert us to vegetarianism (though if you have any empathy, you’ll likely consider it by the end), but to present the facts of how meat is produced, and let us make our own decisions. And, while reading Eating Animals has led me to believe in the ethical, environmental, and nutritional superiority of a vegetarian diet over an omnivore diet, it isn’t my intent to convince you that you should stop eating meat either. I, Foer, and Eating Animals, will leave that up to you.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.