I think this is an amazing book - it's heartfelt, honest, isn't afraid to enter some uncomfortable places and asks a lot of necessary questions. It also gives voice to those on both sides of the fence, as it were.
As for the criticisms from some folk on this page, I work for a vegetarian campaign group so know that there aren't as many differences between US and UK/European farming methods as some critics would like to think. For example, the sow farrowing crate is still in use in the UK - it causes immense suffering to these highly intelligent and sensitive animals but is allegedly slightly more humane than the US gestation crate - a couple of inches perhaps? (Thankfully it is destined to be phased out after a lot of campaigning). But most animal abuse is not being phased out. There is also a lot of nonsense talked about organic and free-range meat, frankly. Recent and verified undercover footage by the UK's Animal Aid has exposed appalling cruelty to animals - in Soil Association approved slaughterhouses, not only the usual suspects. So much so that there is a call to put CCTV in abbatoirs to try and stop the abuse. If we are honest and go beyond our comfort/self-interest zone, I think many of us know that animals go through hell. RSPCA Freedom Foods, for example is another scam - the abuses within many of their approved 'farms' have to be seen to be believed. If you don't believe me, check Viva!'s undercover footage. Basically, farmers aren't monsters, but they are human and under pressure from supermarkets and the like to deliver cheap meat, eggs, milk and so forth. It's always the animals who suffer. That's the bottom line. It's a brutal business and it all too frequently brutalises those who work in it. Even the more ethical M&S, Waitrose and such cannot be guaranteed. What do people th ink happens to a worker's head when s/he kills or 'processes' animals day after day? Massive brutalisation and desensitisation, that's waht. Frankly, unless you actually sit by an animal while it is being killed, its quick and painless death cannot be guaranteed. It's time to stop kidding ourselves. Our diet contains suffering and death. It also contributes to world starvation, water depletion on a terrifying scale, ditto deforestation, fresh and sea pollution, desertification - and of course, CO2 emissions on an unparalleled level. It also contributes to the massive rise in heart disease, most cancers, diabetes type 2, obesity and all of the delights of the Western diet.
I'm a vegan of 10 years so perhaps it's obvious why I'd give this book 5 stars. However, I was also vegetarian for 15 years, went back to eating meat (for fairly spurious reasons) before finally going vegan. In other words, I understand the places in the human heart that resist confronting the reality of what we eat. I also come from a Northern UK (Scottish and Yorkshire) family - basically, I grew up on lard! - so my changed eating patterns caused all sorts of reactions amongst family and friends. Another vegetarian writer, Carol J Adams, said that without even meaning to, the very presence of a veg*n at the table draws attention to who is on our plate.
I'm now a vegan cook - I teach, write about and cook great vegan food. It's really not about 'giving up' and things have changed amazingly since the 70s and 80s, believe me. Don't be afraid to try to reduce or omit animal products from your diet. You'll feel and look better, and can eat with a clear conscience.