Today I’d like to talk about a non-fiction book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Published in 2009, it still contains topics that are relevant nowadays.
The book is a report of the reasons why the writer decided to go vegan.
I loved the fact that the author is frank and doesn’t judge people who eat meat: he himself was an on-off vegetarian for many years, before becoming a father and realising he needed to seriously question what he was going to feed his son with. He also admits that the smell of barbecued meat still makes his mouth water. Nonetheless, there are some things that are more important than plain taste. When it comes to eat meat, several topics are involved: body health, ethics and environment.
He described the treatment animals receive in intensive animal farming and the psychological effects it has on people who work there: the result is that many workers develop an insensitivity towards animals, beating, raping and killing them.
If this wasn’t enough to make the reader question what he’s believed in so far, there is the environmental issue: it has been proven that breeding is the cause of the majority of air pollution in the entire world. I appreciated that the author gives the names of farmers who care about animal welfare and that, having a familiar type of production, don’t contribute in polluting the air. Of course, only American readers can use that information, but it was still a nice move.
He says another thing I agree with: food is tradition. Food is family and it’s part of who we are. We’ll always have memories of our past connected to what we ate in that certain occasion. That’s why he wonders: what if depriving his children of meat translates into depriving them of certain experiences, certain memories? But he can only state that going vegan, he will give his children other types of experiences. So yes, food is certainly part of us, not just something we put in our mouth to stay alive (or not only that).
I can definitely say that this book changed my life. Whereas I’m not vegan or vegetarian (yet – who knows?), I must say I’ve grown up and I put a lot more attention on what I lay on the table. I’m now what the author defines as “selective omnivore”. I’m always very careful to choose meat and dairy products that were produced in ethically sustainable industries – most of the times I choose family-run companies – and I avoid eating them when I go out at the restaurants unless I know for sure they are certified. This is because I firmly believe in the importance of stepping into action and do my part for what regards pollution. As the writer said, we can’t demand from the poor countries to choose only sustainable products. But we, the Western world, who are privileged, need not to waste our privilege and do what has to be done – for people who don’t have a choice, too.
What about you? Have you read this book and found it as eye-opening as I have? Tell me your experience with a comment below!