I don’t know that I can offer a traditional (or unbiased) review of this book, because it has become deeply personal for me, but I’ll try. I officially stopped “eating animals” because of Eating Animals. This is the only book I frequently re-read, because it means so much to me, and is a bolstering reminder of why I choose to live the way I do. It’s been a transformative and eye-opening book for me, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s ever felt uneasy about where their food comes from, and wanted to think about it more deeply.
Foer approaches the topic of meat production from the perspective of both a novelist and a philosopher, couching everything presented in personal stories, while trying to answer some very difficult questions. Foer follows the big central idea of what it really means to eat animals, while taking time to dig into each of the myriad consequences of the US factory farming system. Reading it this year felt especially timely, as part of animal farming’s impact on people is the facilitation of animal-to-human transmission of disease. Foer’s follow-up, We Are the Weather focuses more directly on the environmental impacts of animal farming, but there is plenty in this book about the damage factory farming is doing in that regard. Foer doesn’t just put forth his own arguments, but takes care to find the best producers out there, the most ethical and caring ranchers and farmers, to give space to their approach to changing the system. There is a personal care in all of the philosophy put forth here that’s needed in tandem with some of the very uncomfortable facts at the center of the problem. There isn’t harsh judgement for people who choose to eat animals, just questions and information, and one person’s perspective and answers.
I wanted to re-read this book now specifically because choosing the food systems that I take part in has given me a valuable piece of control in this very chaotic and difficult year. If we’re meant to focus on the things we know we can change, being conscientious about what I eat is something I can do, something I can choose to actively do every single day, and this book helped me be glad to do so.