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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and fairly objective
The author brings a novelist's talent for observation and description to the subject of farmed animals and the people who eat them. It is very engaging and horrifying in just the right measure and I found myself confronted with information I hadn't heard before, despite lots of reading on this topic. I was fascinated with his ethical dilemma and how he took us through it...
Published on Feb. 8 2010 by Mark Young

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7 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eating Animals Jonathan Safran Foer - Review
I read 'Eating Animals' by Jonathan Safran Foer a few weeks ago.
I am a fierce vegan advocate and I liked some parts of the book but I also disliked other parts. It's a weird book, at the end I had no idea on what side the author really is. I believe it promotes animal welfare in general, which after all promotes the continuation of animal exploitation, making people...
Published on Feb. 8 2010 by Jerome Falcon


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and fairly objective, Feb. 8 2010
By 
Mark Young (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Eating Animals (Hardcover)
The author brings a novelist's talent for observation and description to the subject of farmed animals and the people who eat them. It is very engaging and horrifying in just the right measure and I found myself confronted with information I hadn't heard before, despite lots of reading on this topic. I was fascinated with his ethical dilemma and how he took us through it all, both from his point of view and those of others.

His conclusions are not mine, nor is this book the perfect statement of my own philosophy, but I think it is a step in the right direction and it is getting a lot of attention. Martha Stewart had him on her show and she said to her audience, "I think you'll agree with most of what [the author] has to say." Really? I think most of them don't want to hear it. Great quote from J.M Coetzee on the book jacket for those who do dare read it: "The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system is presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer's book, continues to consume the industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both."

We'll see. Human beings have an amazing capacity for rationalizing their own actions.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book meant for all who consume food, vegetarian or otherwise, Nov. 8 2009
By 
J. Tobin Garrett (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Eating Animals (Hardcover)
Foer's first book of nonfiction is not a rant against meat eaters, but more of a philosophical and meditative investigation on what it means to eat meat in today's society. Through the device of "storytelling" Foer examines the cultural, environmental, ethical, social, and political issues with consuming meat from factory farms, which account for 99% of meat consumption in the U.S. (I'm sure the figure is similar for Canada). His discussion of eating as storytelling was really interesting, in that what we eat tells stories about us as people, but also that storytelling centres around food consumption (think of big family dinners).

To be fair, I'm already a vegetarian, so perhaps some of this book was preaching to the converted. However, I think that anyone with a stomach will get something out of this book. Foer allows farmers, PETA activists, and industry workers to tell their own stories about factory farming and conditions on today's farms and what happens to the animals. In this way, the book is more powerful than other accounts of factory farms and the food industry because (I can't resist saying this) you get it straight from the horse's mouth.

Foer also offers some interesting philosophical and moral discussions of his own, surrounding why we find it inhumane to eat the family dog, but not slaughter other animals. What constitutes "suffering", and which is more important to us: the knowing or the eating. The knowing being knowing about the conditions of the farms where our food comes from, and the eating being the love of consuming of that food. For me, the knowing is more important than the eating, but for many others the eating is more important than the knowing.

This is not a book where you will feel attacked as a meat eater, but it is a strong book and Foer doesn't back down with giving the gruesome details of the factory farm industry. He does advocate for, and include information on, family farms and humane practices and "ethical" meat, so it's not a total downer of a book. In fact, even though much of the book is disturbing, Foer manages to come off as hopeful, and often funny.

A quote I really enjoyed that I think sums up much of the intent of the book is found on page 102: "It's always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep." Or, in other words, for those that pretend to be asleep, the eating is more important than the knowing, so they choose forget the knowing and continue to eat. Hopefully this book will help change that, as it's impossible to forget the scenes described by Foer and industry workers in this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Respect for the Animals We Eat, Dec 13 2009
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eating Animals (Hardcover)
This book is a collection of personal stories and philosophical reflections - some humorous, others troubling - the author uses it to make a very significant point about our somewhat questionable relationship with the animal world around us. As top of the food chain, we have come to rely on certain domestic animals like cattle, chickens and pigs for our main food sources. This heavy reliance on red meat or animal protein has become a traditional part of our North American culture as reflected in the millions of animals slaughtered each year in readiness for our dinner tables. This dependence on meat as a mainstay of our diet, while not altogether healthy, is not the issue that Foer focuses on here. While a Vegan in his dietary preferences, Foer does show some understanding why most of us come honestly by our need for meat: a desire for flavour, an instinct for herding, and the need to provide for one's family are some of the key compulsions. Having made that point clear, Foer launches into a discussion of how present society has come to mistreat animals it raises to eat. From the floors of the modern food factories and slaughter houses of America comes an updated version of the horrors of the meat industry described in Upton Sinclair's 19th century "Jungle". Based on Foer's sources, the meat we normally consume on a daily basis has been raised under some of the most appallingly cruel conditions known to humankind. Turkeys clubbed and electrocuted, thousands of pigs squeezed into small, poorly-ventilated pens, and calves forced to live in their own execrement are all conditions that speak to an industry that puts profit ahead of humanity. Foer's challenge to each of us meat-lovers is to start adopting an ethos that credits animals with having feelings and emotions that need to be respected even if they are a lower part of the food chain. If we don't, we will invite all kinds of soci-economic problems from destroying the environment to causing the outbreak of some serious pandemics. When I read his colorful description of growing up in a well-to-do Jewish-American home, I got the distinct impression he did not feel comfortable describing the convenient lifestyle that has bred this wretched problem of animal abuse. To show his readers an alternative way to raising animals for food on a large scale, Foer offers examples of husbandry with a conscience: small farms and cooperatives that raise and produce their meat under the strictest standards of public hygiene and respect for the animals. While I still love my BBQ steaks and pork ribs, Foer's very thoughtful study on the nature of the food industry has given me cause to educate myself as to how ranches, hatcheries, and slaughterhouses raise their produce for market. Have we come to assume, in our abundant lifestyle, that we are no longer morally responsible for how we handle our food resources, especially the living ones? If so, think again and read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thought Provoking Read, Oct. 31 2013
By 
Donald McKenzie (Winnipeg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Eating Animals (Paperback)
Eating Animals

I recently finished the book "Eating Animals," by Johnathan Safran Foer. Before I go any further I'd like to state for the record that I am not a vegetarian. I approached this book as someone who eats meat and enjoys eating meat. After finishing reading it, I would say that I'm not convinced enough by the arguments of the author to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, but will certainly give thought to reducing the amount of meat that is part of my diet.

While I liked the general tenor of the book, I found its overall structure rather disjointed and hared to follow. I think the reason for this is that Foer tries to do too much with the book and ends up not doing enough. This stems in large part from Foer's desire to be as accommodating as possible to his carnivorously inclined readers.

Another contributing factor to this is Foer's bringing in to the book elements of the origins of our meat eating habits. These to me, are the weakest part of the book for he fails to address these questions in any depth. He often introduces one of these subjects only to almost immediately veer off into another discussion on factory farming and meat production. More detail on the cultural aspects of our meat eating habits would be very welcome. As well a more structured look at the relationships between us and the animals we eat would make the book better.

To his credit Foer is very sensitive to the people that he meets along the way, whether they be part of the factory farm, food producing movement, adamantly opposed to it, or caught somewhere in-between. The stories these individuals tell enable the reader to get a real strong sense of the many nuances that are involved in the production and consumption of meat products.

When I speak of nuance, I am referring to the raising and slaughtering of meat that is done outside of the factory farm process. There is no nuance within that world. If there is one thing Foer's book makes clear time and time again, it is that our current way of mass-producing meat for consumer consumption is barbaric to the nth degree. It is not only barbaric in the way that the animals are treated in the slaughter process, but also in the way it affects the mental state of those who are involved in the production of the meat.

So now the hard part, change. There is no doubt that Foer is right when he says that the only reason we don't eat less meat is that we are unwilling to. Yet, I love eating meat, especially when I can get it cheap. Nonetheless, I think that over the next couple of months I'm going to try and make an effort to add at least a couple of meatless days to my eating habits. It's only a small start, but if we multiplied small starts by hundreds of millions of people, maybe we could bring our meat eating habits under control a little, and help remove a little cruelty out of our world. Perhaps I even need to include Boon Burger as a destination when I go out to eat. I've been there once and it was terrific.
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5.0 out of 5 stars CAFOs are bad, so is grass fed & local. Stop eating animals., July 29 2014
This review is from: Eating Animals (Paperback)
I read this 2 years ago while doing a paleo style diet. Ever since I did not want to support the mainstream animal farming industry, but I still chose to consume animal products from local, grass fed farms who supposedly offer less pain and suffering to the animals, and therefore, I thought I was exempt from contributing to this major problem. Unfortunately, now that I am more educated I am 100% vegan and have been for 6 months. It was stupid of me to think I was not contributing to this problem by buying from grass fed local farms instead of CAFOs. After talking to vendors at my local market where I used to buy these grass fed animals, I have found out that even local farms operate as CAFOs if they want to grow and expand their business. You have to keep it so small to avoid operating just like a CAFO, that for many local farms it isnt worthwhile. All businesses have to grow and develop overtime. You cannot support the eating of animal products without supporting animal abuse. Watch the movies Speciesism. It will counteract every excuse you have in regards to eating animals, and how awful it really is what we are doing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How our choices affect the planet and all beings, Feb. 17 2011
This review is from: Eating Animals (Hardcover)
After reading and seeing quite a bit on the subject of animals I became a convinced vegan. I can say that Jonathan's book sealed my convictions with titanium bolts and deep layers of cement. I respect the fact that his book came out as a quest for educating himself on what he was going to feed his newborn son, and not intended as a pro-vegetarian book, I see from some of the reviews that some pro-vegetarians do not like that fact. Au contraire! I believe that condemning meat eaters is not the right approach to solving the urgent issue facing us. Education is the key. And Jonathan has made some serious credible and well documented research. Mind boggling facts. This is a facts-in-your-face-draw-your-own-conclusions type of book. It is also an intelligent philosophical reflection on the social implications. EVERYBODY should read it and draw their own conclusions. One thing for sure: it will affect somehow your food choices. Well hopefully at least it will make you aware of how each of us is responsible for encouraging an industry that is destroying us and the planet. I am convinced that the impact of this book would be huge if it got more media attention. However when we talk about meat it makes a lot of people feel unconfortable because of humanity's love affair with steaks (and now with sushis as well), and unfortunately the industry has more power than the government on regulations. We are lucky to live in a country where we can make our own choices. It is our duty to get educated and take responsability for our choices and our footprint. I highly recommend this book to EVERYBODY. It is not just about cruelty to animals. It is also about how factory farming (on land and in the ocean) is destroying our planet and affecting our health. If WE support an industry that has a negative impact far more important than other sectors like transportation on the planet, WE are the ones to blame. Education, education, education!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome edition to the top 100, Sept. 21 2010
By 
Margot Strauss (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Eating Animals (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book to see in the top 100. I think it is gravely important for us as a highly consumptive society to examine the root of our culinary traditions. I am a researcher in the field of animal studies and very much intrigued by Foer's work. Boissonneault, author of Every Living Being: Representations of Nonhuman Animals in the Exploration of Human Well-Beinghas also examined the connections between humans and the species they denigrate and others they adulate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for omniviores, July 25 2014
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This review is from: Eating Animals (Paperback)
I would recommend this as required reading for anyone who consumes animals or their products, to understand exactly what they are supporting thereby condoning by their choices. And for anyone with an understanding of karma, it could shake them to their roots. As a veterinarian with exposure to commercial animal husbandry and slaughterhouses, this book seems absolutely accurate, without exaggeration.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous discussion, done with respect and relentless integrity, July 2 2014
By 
Brian Griffith (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eating Animals (Paperback)
Foer has a relaxed, conversational presentation, with dialogue wandering all over the cultural map. He meets with ranchers, slaughterhouse owners, animal rights activists and borderline vegetarians. Always he's talking with people rather than at them. It seems a bit indirect, but he's actually a relentlessly honest guy who won't duck an ethical issue. It's not that he's convinced he's right, it's just that he refuses to settle for amiable hypocrisies in his life. Not only does he breach the unstated rule against discussing what goes on in factory farms, he also violates the ag-gag rules against breaking into such facilities to see for himself. What his very thorough research shows is not pretty. We knew it wasn't. But this combination of mass imprisonment, genetic manipulation, systematic cruelty, and massive generation of toxic wastes with superpathogens just doesn't look healthy for any creature concerned.

Seldom does a writer handle such a painful, emotionally loaded topic so reasonably, with such a balance of respect and moral integrity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You MUST read this!, April 24 2013
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This review is from: Eating Animals (Hardcover)
This book is very well written -witty, interesting and honest. A real eye-opener to what really goes on in the farming and fishing industries. It not only gives facts and figures and descriptions of how things are done, but it delves into the emotional connection to eating. It explores the intricacies and feelings surrounding the changing of (eating) traditions in families and society in general. It pushes you to ask yourself what is most important to you in the celebration of a tradition or in the simple (yet complex) satisfying of your hunger. What matters most?

Once you read the information in this book, you cannot ''unknow'' it. You can choose to dismiss it, disbelieve it or not care about it, but deep down, you can never forget it. You are what you eat.

For me, reading this book provided the extra push I needed to take control of my life and follow my true values and become vegetarian. Enjoy!
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Eating Animals
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (Hardcover - Nov. 2 2009)
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