I went into this book having no knowledge of its topic, only a fondness for the author’s other work. It turns out, this was the author’s plan. It’s a delightfully written account of the dying earth and how we, the human race, are the leading cause of its death.
It’s a good mix of fact-based research and anecdotal evidence; it’s difficult to talk about this book without revealing its seedy underbelly. So in the interest of full disclosure: SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT: this book is mostly about being a vegan, or becoming a vegan, or I guess just veganism in general. Jonathan Safran Foer has also written Eating Animals, a book all about becoming vegan and the horrors of factory farms. One book was not enough. He decided he needed to tackle the issue from another anger.
I admit there is evidence for giving up animal products. I also admit, I have not made the change. To my surprise, the author also admits he has not completely made the change. There is a real honesty to his admission that undercuts the severity of the lesson, but in a good way. There are moments when reading about how being a vegan could make the world a better place that are hard to (sorry) swallow, but somehow understanding that even the impassioned author struggles with this relieves the guilt and opens the empathy valve a bit. I might not be convinced to go completely vegan after reading his two books all about how wonderful animals are and how the earth is dying because of our consumption of them, but I am slowly becoming more conscious of it, and really, that’s all he’s asking all of us to do.
It’s a really well written book, at times lyrical. It tugs at a few heartstrings from time to time and attempts to be gentle in its approach. And then sometimes it’s not so gentle anymore, but he more than makes up for it with apology and self-flagellation over his own guilt for not following his own rules. If you’re really over hearing about climate change and veganism, maybe this book isn’t for you. But if you think there is even a chance we can save the earth to live on it a little longer, I think this is worth a read.