Eating Animals: Summary & Review

eating animals

Eating Animals is Jonathan Safran Foer deep investigation into the animal food industry.
Eating Animals finally tries to answer the answer the deep question on whether or not it’s ethical for us to eat animals. And the answers stares deep into the soul of us all who are still eating animals -at least farmed and raised the way they do today-.

Bullet Summary

  • Eating animals today is not only a food choice: it’s a moral and ethical cohice we all need to make
  • Modern farming is often akin to torture for animals
  • Eating meat is not intrinsically bad, but it’s bad when it entails suffering -and today, it often does-
  • We can all contribute to stop this ongoing inhumanity

Full Summary

The book connects personal stories and childhood memories with Jonathan Safran Foer’s investigation on animals as our source of food.

I won’t go into the details here, but there is one quote which by itself is worth the whole book.
Her grandmother, a jew fleeing the nazis, was close to starvation but when a Russian farmer offered her food she refused it because it was pork.
When Jonathan Foer asked how could she refuse any food in a life and death scenario, how could any type of food matter.
And she replied:

If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save

Ms Foer

Similarly, I would ask: if animals’ suffering does not matter, then is humanity even worth saving?

How We Got to Intensive Farming

Foer says that prior to 1923 livestock was raised in small farms and their lives was not too bad.

But in 1923 Celia Steel got a wrong order. 500 chicks instead of the 50 she hd ordered.
She tried to raise them indoor and… It was a success. So to speak. By 1935 she had 250,000 chickens. And in the 1930s it started becoming a widespread phenomenon. An industry.

Factory Farming & Animals’ Torture

The modern practice or raising as many animals as possible in as little space and in the most efficient way possible is called factory farming.

The author, as much as I do, invites the readers to check pictures on Google to get an idea for themselves.

Foer goes into details in describing the harsh existence of animals in factory farms. At times, it feels they are centers for torture.

Dangers of Factory Farming

The author goes deep into the impacts of intensive farming, which is not limited to moral considerations of animals.

Modern farms are huge polluters and they might easily become the breeding ground of the next pandemic.
The author talks about the Spanish Flu and how destructive it’s been. A modern pandemic would much worse.

Poor Quality of Meat

And don’t go thinking that because it’s “modern farming” and regulated you are getting quality meat.

Intensive farming produces crap meat -what would you expect anyway when the animals the meat come from live in those conditions?-.
Animals are often ill and diseased. They eat poor quality, genetically modified food which is still mixed with other dead animals. And they are kept alive with massive doses of antibiotics (also check: Fast Food Nation).
We are eating meat full of drugs and antibiotics.

Are There Alternatives?

Foer is not a pie in the sky writers and explains that going back to the old ays with the current population -and with the current fewer workers in farming- is impossible.
Even if everybody wanted to buy from family farms, that wouldn’t be possible. If we were to take all the family farms in the US, their output would not even be enough to satisfy the Staten Island’s population.

However, if consumer started demanding more animals’ rights and buying only from selected farms, then the intensive farming industry would be forced to heed the change and adapt.

In the meantime, Foer has adopted his own solution: vegetarianism.

eating animals

CONS

Here are a few things I liked less of Eating Animals:

“Back Then Was Better” Mindset
Foer seems to have a typical “back then was better” mindset. And attention, I am not saying that back then animals’ condition was not better. It might have been.
Yet at times it feels like a bit of a rose-tintend glasses. I grew up in a rural area right at the passage between farming and service industry, with plenty of left-overs from the old days.
The killing of animals was brutal. My grandmother’s way of killing chickens by pulling their necks was the nice way of going about it. I personally saw my grandmother’s neighbor doing it in much more cruel ways.
And that’s only one example and I won’t go much more in details, but it certainly wasn’t good back then.

PROS

Eating Animals is one of most humanist book in the modern literature.

Can Make The World a Better Place
In my opinion, as the most powerful and as the only intelligence specie on the planet, we have a responsibility towards all other forms of life. Eating Animals takes that responsibility seriously as it should.
The more people read it and understand it, the better the world we will live in.

Eye Opener
Do you know the people who mock PETA saying “People Eating Tasty Animals”?
Well I’m not a vegetarian, but I’d really like to see who uses eating animals as a badge of honor after eating this book. Jonathan Foer’s work can help many people open their eyes on the ongoing torture that modern farming is.

Good Psychology
Foer provide good psychology on why most people keep eating animals. He says most people know it’s bad fr animals, but we prefer distancing ourselves. And we conveniently forget of how similar to us all animals really are.

Review

We are on our way to treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Much to go there, but we have done a lot.
When it comes to animals though we are the opposite stage: suffering is the norm and respectful treatment is the exception. This is legalized torture.

As humans we have a responsibility to make sure that our planet has as little suffering as possible.
To me it’s ridiculous thinking of going to Mars or becoming an “interplanetary specie” when we are still so backwards on this Earth.

We are the most powerful and the only intelligent specie on this Earth. That does give us huge advantages.
But it should also give us responsibilities. As someone said, with great power come great responsibilities.

And Eating Animals is a great step in the right direction to take that responsibility.

Check the best books collection or get the book on Amazon.

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