Thursday, 2 February 2012

Book review: Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals

I picked up Jonathan Faran Foer's Eating Animals book about becoming vegetarian by accident really. I was in an airport looking for something to read and I grabbed this thinking that like everything else Jonathan Safran Foer has written that this would be fiction. What I got was the most affecting and effective discussion on vegetarianism that I'd ever encountered.

I say discussion because it really is just that. It's full of anecdotes, the letters and quotes collected in his journey from being a omnivore to deciding to give up meat all together. He interviews people from throughout the meat industry, organic and commercial. He encounters activists and traditionalists and explains the history behind how we got to the point where we as a society eat more meat than ever before.And his descriptions of the industry's processes, he is reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in his no hold bar approach to the horrors of the slaughter house.

It starts off harmless enough, with a beautiful anecdote about JSF's Jewish grandmother in war torn Russia. This humane approach to his human subjects is really what carries the book, setting it apart from a solely political treatise. He realises the importance of food for families, communities and individuals and brings it to the fore. His acknowledgement of the fact that we eat for more emotional, social, AND physical sustenance is key.

When I read this I was in the same place as the author when he started writing: someone who ate ethical meat and a lot of veggie food to appease a conscience that I occasionally ignored in favour of BLTs. By the end I felt certain that I could do what I'd considered doing for years - eat my greens.

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