BOOK REVIEW: Eating Animals – by Jonathan Safran Foer

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Title: Eating Animals
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre: Non Fiction, Philosophy, Health, Food
First published: 2009
Finished reading: December 4th 2014
Pages: 341
Rating 4,5

“Isn’t it strange how upset people get about a few dozen baseball players taking growth hormones, when we’re doing what were doing to our food animals and feeding them to our children?”

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This is not a book about vegetarianism like the title Eating Animals might suggest. Nor am I are vegetarian or will I ever be; I enjoy eating meat too much to give it up all together. But this non fiction book by Jonathan Safran Foer sure left me thinking about my choices when buying and eating meat. In Eating Animals, he tells us about his three year investigation of what is REALLY going on in the meat industry. Safran Foer decided to investigate after his son was born; he wanted to make sure he was making the right choices for his kid. And after what he found out, he became a vegetarian. Says enough about the results, right? Safran Foer mixes facts with parts of his memoir focused on food, and is able to show us perfectly why he decided to stop eating meat all together. I respect his decision and I will definitely be more careful when buying meat. Eating Animals is what you call a ‘heavy’ read with a strong message, but definitely worth reading! The investigation is focused on the US meat industry, but without doubt the results apply to other countries as well.

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Safran Foer starts his story by explaining to us why he wanted to start his investigation in the first place. Food has always been important in his family. He already had some vegetarian experiences during college, but when his son was born he started to ask himself more and more why we do eat animals. We associate food with certain memories, and while he has some precious memories involving meat, he wanted to make sure including meat in the memories of his child would be the right thing.

The meat industry isn’t the same as a hundred years ago. Before, animals were raised and cared for at family farms, and in general had a relatively good life at those farms. But with the population and the meat demand increasing over the years, things changed. The so-called factory farms were born, and animals were treated more and more like mere objects. Torture, genetical manipulation, cruelty…The chickens, pigs, cows and other animals of today in general don’t have a happy life at all. Deprived of all basic humane living standards, those poor creatures in general suffer ever single day of their short life at factory farms. And the situation at slaughterhouses is not much better. Unnecessary cruelty during slaughter is a thing so common that even family farms that don’t want their animals to suffer have a hard time finding ‘proper’ slaughterhouses. Animals at factory farms are injected with hormones and are genetically manipulated so they grow faster while eating less. Hormones we later ingest when we eat their meat… And that is only the start of possible health risks and consequences of the current meat industry.

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Eating Animals is without doubt an interesting read that really makes you think about where your food really comes from. It is not a light read and people with a weak stomach might not enjoy it. Otherwise it is definitely recommendable to both vegetarians and those who enjoy their meat like me, but want to know how to make better choices when buying and eating animal products.

13 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Eating Animals – by Jonathan Safran Foer

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    • Haha, cookies sure won’t make a healthy diet… I don’t eat that much meat, but I know I won’t be able to give it up all together. I’m especially picky when buying chicken though because of the hormones they feed them. I’ve seen little girls with hormonal problems because they were eating a lot of chicken; a disturbing fact… But we have to eat something, especially if you don’t like vegetables. 😉

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  5. Thank you very much Yvo for this review, this is one of the books I’ve planned to read in the future. I am very interested in this subject for several reasons. I cannot be vegetarian because of my particular illness and set of allergies. However, during the last two years I’ve studied and discovered many things about nutrition and fully support Safran Foer’s investigation.

    Intensive production of meat is immoral and cruel but there is another crucial point nobody never mentions. The use of hormones in animals’ nutrition is massive… but not innocuous. We now begin to see an incredible number of children experiencing “premature hormonal activaton” and pediatricians perfectly understand what is happening (they prohibit non organic meat and milk and nothing more). I personally know several kids who experienced hormonal activation because of hormones in meat or milk, and the majority of them are female kids (in males, the phenomenon is less visible).

    So I think that this book must be praised and read. I will read it soon…

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    • Yeah, I’ve also seen various cases where I live where little girls have hormonal problems; it’s kind of shocking that without realizing we eat and feed our children meat and other animal products that can cause health risks. Safran Foer did a great job with his investigation, and I think that with his book he doesn’t only advertise vegetarianism, he also vouches for a raised awareness when buying animal products. Like he said; there aren’t enough family farms around to produce enough meat for everybody, but it is a way to start… I myself always buy my eggs at a family farm and try to buy meat I know the source of, although that is easier than said.

      Eating Animals is definitely a must read! Ignorance is a big problem here, since most people don’t realize where the animal products on their plate come from and what health risks they might imply…

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  6. I’m afraid I tend to avoid these books, simply because I’m too squeamish. I actually became a vegetarian for a few years after watching a documentary on chicken farming, but I couldn’t stick it in the end. I don’t eat much meat though and am careful about what I buy, but in the end I have to rely on the labelling and I don’t always feel I can trust it. It’s a difficult problem…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, there is not a lot of family farm meat available on the food market and in general it is not easy to separate the good from the bad products. It is a problem that makes is difficult to actually accomplish eating healthier…

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