By Jonathan Safran Foer (Little, Brown and Co., 2009)
Of all matters pertaining to food ethics and aesthetics, meat eating is among the most complicated. For example, which feels more right: Eating the roast your grandmother has lovingly prepared for you or refusing it out of respect for the animal that endured a bleak existence before landing on your plate? It’s in the spirit of these conundrums that novelist Jonathan Safran Foer produced this book. After years of on-again-off-again vegetarianism, Safran Foer was inspired by the birth of his son to take a firmer stand on the issue, so he set about investigating the conditions of U.S. meat production — a journey he records here in all its complex and contradictory detail.
While Eating Animals covers the heartbreaking details of factory farming in depth, and Safran Foer ultimately advocates vegetarianism, the book honors the complexity of the issue by including a range of voices:from animal-rights activists and small-scale family farmers who raise their animals with care, to slaughterhouse owners and industrial-farm managers, all of whom provide thoughtful, compelling accounts of their highly differentiated positions. If you’ve struggled at all to make peace with your own carnivorous tendencies, this well-researched and beautifully written book will provide you with substantial food for thought.