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Eating Animals
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2011
Coetzee is quoted on the back of this book as saying that "anyone who, after reading [this] book, continues to consume the [farm] industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both." I picked up this book as a bit of a self-dare, wondering if I could eat meat again after having read it. I have read the book and I have not eaten meat again.

The book is informative, well-written and easy to read. It teaches about ways in which factory farming has an impact on not only the animals' welfare but also human health and the health of the planet.

The one negative thing I have to say is that the book has a few too many graphically detailed stories about the cruelty and abuse inflicted on animals on industrial farms. Such stories can shock one into confronting and recognising the unspeakable horrors animals experience every second of their short (yet, ironically, seemingly never-ending tortuous) lives, and this can be a good thing. We need to confront and recognise such issues. On the other hand, having too many of such stories renders the book sensationalist at times which could undermine the author's intentions to educate. I had nightmares for about a month after reading about the sick things that happen on factory farms.

That having been said, this is a good book for anyone thinking about becoming a vegetarian or for anyone who wonders why people become vegetarians.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2013
I recently rescued 3 battery farmed chickens & seeing them arrive with feathers missing & excited about doing simple things like flapping their wings, running & digging made me want to research more about what goes on in factory farming. This book was perfect. It provides so much relevant information backed up with facts & figures & stories from people in the different industries. It's not trying to shock - it's just trying to show. And what it's showing is something every single person should know about, but doesn't because of the disconnect between how the animals live and die, what happens with the waste they produce etc & what ends up in a supermarket or restaurant.

If you're thinking if buying this book, do. And buy copies for friends and family too.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2012
I haven't quite finished this book but it is a brilliant read and if I had my way it would be on the curicullum for teenagers.

I watched an undercover doc made by an animal rights group around 1995 on channel 4 - I don't think it was on a factory farm and I can't remember much about it but one memory that does stick in my head was seeing pigs being herded into a slaugtherhouse and them being beaten with metal poles and kicked by their laughing 'guardians', I felt that they were absolutely terrifed and all so we could sate our apetite. I still get upset when I think about it - and coincidently, the one story that has upset me over all the others in this book is about how one worker treated pigs and how he is definately not an exception but the rule. After watching the doc on channel 4, both my son and I (at the time he was 13) were so horrified and felt so guilty that we vowed to give up pork, after a few weeks it semeed silly to just not eat pigs and so we became vegetarians and still are. I am so thankful for that undercover doc because without watching that I might still be ignorant and implicit in eating animals.

This book is not for the faint hearted and I can see why meat eaters would not want to read it - afterall, willful or unfillful ignorance plays a large part in their decisions and values. As he says in the book, of us all "what did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?". For people who think there is no alternative to eating meat, think it might be too hard to give up or just think it too expensive or too hard to seek out ethical meat then I can understand their reluctance to be totally ignorant about where their meat comes from. I say, I can understand their reluctance but that is not really true because, to me, willful ignorance (of race, gender, religion or anything) is an unforgivable trait!

As I said, I have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years and this book has certainly opened my eyes to the absolute horrors that these poor living, breathing animals go through just so as we can have a bit of what we fancy.

This is a sad book, an horrific book, an emotive book - a book that will stay with you for the rest of my life. I would like to thank the author because it has made me view the meat in my supermarket and the people who eat that meat in a completely different light.

Before this book when someone asked me how I felt about them eating meat I would say that if their conscience allowed it thats fine but my conscience does not allow me to eat meat. After reading this book when someone asks me how I feel about them eating meat I will say that when they are in full possesion of the facts (and not some edited version their minds allow) then they should let their conscience decide, until then I think they are totally wrong to do so.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2012
Eating Animals is a unique, intelligent and well-researched text based on 3 years research into the meat industry, with a key focus on animal welfare but some horrifying insights into the public health concerns, as a result of the sole interest in profit. Sometimes this book is hard to read since it describes in detail what goes on behind the scenes of factory-farming and slaughter, yet it is nevertheless compelling and necessary reading for all human beings who eat meat and those who don't.

What I especially love about Eating Animals though is how Jonathan Safran Foer includes perspectives from all angles - from the factory farmer, to the animal rights activist, to the traditional farmer, to the vegan that builds slaughterhouses. This I think, shows incredible empathy for human beings and for their own beliefs or reasons for doing what they do, and gives the book a special strength.

While Eating Animals concentrates on intensive farming in the US, as Jonathan Safran Foer points out very early on, don't think that the industry is that much different in the UK or Europe if you live here. It isn't. And reviews here that have marked down the book because of its US slant are doing so unfairly - the messages that come from the book are important, and affect all of us, whether you live in the US, UK or any other part of the world.

One of the weaknesses I did find was that Safran Foer only touched upon the dairy and egg industries early on, and by the end, there was little thought left in your mind about them. It is said there is more cruelty in a glass of milk than in a steak, and therefore I think the emphasis not should not just be on eating animals, but on eating animal produce too. However, I still see it as an important and seminal work regardless, hence why I still giving it a full five stars.

You HAVE to read this - not just for the sake of animal welfare, but for the sake of human welfare and survival. This book opened my eyes to how the fat cat corporations behind the meat industry care nothing for animals, nor humans, and we pay them to continue to exploit us.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2011
I had been putting off reading this book because I, rightly, anticipated the intellectual and emotional 'work' that reading it and confronting the information within would necessitate. 'Eating Animals' is highly readable and compelling, it is also full of terrible and unforgettable descriptions of cruelty inflicted upon animals in the farming industry. It made me cry on multiple occasions and I remained spellbound and sure that I needed to keep reading the book and face up to the contents. Safran Foer is one of my favourite authors, he makes a strong, damning and passionate case against factory farming, not leaving 'wiggle room' for those who may be undecided. As someone who hasn't eaten meat in 20 years I found parts of this book extremely uncomfortable and distressing, I'm not sure how someone who did eat meat would receive this. I finished the book feeling shellshocked and sad, I am glad that I read it but Safran Foer does not provide any easy solutions or comfortable ways forward. I have a head full of information about the inhumanity of modern farming and I'm not clear how I can do anything about this.

I would recommend reading the book if you are interested in the arguments and information around eating animals, I would also recommend not reading it before bed, it is not comforting, rather agitating in a necessary way. I'm not sure whether anyone who doesn't already know where they stand on factory farming will read this but it has certainly given me pause and a host of information to support my previously more vague, instincts that eating animals is not necessary or kind.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2010
I came to this book as a vegan who changed my diet primarily for health reasons, not out of any deep sympathy for the plight of animals. An excerpt in the Guardian made me want to find out more about Safran Foer's personal exploration of his dietary choices and reasons for becoming a vegetarian, especially as this is one of the few accounts I've read which meaningfully acknowledges the loss inherent in removing animal products from your diet -- as the author points out, you are severing links with family history and culture by deciding not to eat foods which you grew up eating. I found the book absolutely riveting, moving and sympathetic towards all the people who the author interviewed in the course of his research. He asks careful, probing questions and does not pass judgement on the people he meets who rear animals for food, but carefully details the impact of factory farming on our society, our environment and ourselves.

Some critics have pointed out that this book examines the factory farming system in the US and therefore isn't relevant to the UK. This isn't strictly true. As the author points out, it's simply not possible to meet the world's growing appetite for meat (not only in the developed world but in cultures which traditionally ate very little) without factory farming. It uses up huge amounts of food crops which would otherwise be directly eaten by humans, the animal waste and byproducts cause devastating environmental damage, and the toll in animal suffering is immense and unmeasurable (because it is largely hidden from view, even from the agencies which are supposed to inspect slaughterhouses). This is a hugely important issue and one which we ignore at our peril.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2011
I find this to be one of the most sympathetic and honest fabrications of information to this date. It is not a book that demands anything of you, but after reading it seems there is no other solution than at least altering your consumer habits. A many yeared meat lover, I now don't buy meat any longer and feel fine about it. If merely a tenth of what Foer is describing is going on, there is no doubt that we are performing collective holocaust on our animal friends. And there is no way out of arguing that you support that by buying meat from factory farms. I am normally very critical when reading and don't buy new age philosophies and the likes, but this book won me over with it's vast material of evidence and personal accounts. On the litterary account it is written with wit and avantgarde like playing with the form of the book which is quite imaginative and funny.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2011
An excellent, challenging and thought provoking book. Safran Foer tackles the ethical and moral issues associated with meat produced in what can only be described as animal factories. Don't be fooled by the comments that this book is all about the USA. Take a drive round the UK country side, how many chickens, pigs and even cows do you see, if any, in our fields?

Knowledge is empowering. Most people, however, are in the position where they consider that being ignorant regarding eating animals is an acceptable stance. If Foer's book does one thing, it challenges us not to have our head in the sand with regard to this issue.

Read the book and make you own mind up. If you are still not sure, do your own research, visit a battery farm, look on the web. If you still decide to eat meat then at least you will have justified that position in your own mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2012
I have been vegetarian for some 20 years. My reasoning is a combination of personal health, the ethics of killing to live, and what I thought I knew about factory farming. In truth, I didn't know the half of it. Safran Foer has done the homework for me, and here presents a well-structured, insightful, moving study of the way 99% of meat gets sourced and processed. It's an angry. alarming, unsettling and ultimately horrifying polemic about what globalization and corporatism has done to the majority of our food. For the past two decades, whenever someone has asked my 'why vegetarian?' - and the question is usually asked in a restaurant while we're ordering - I have deferred answering to be polite, not wanting to put anyone off the meal they are about to eat. From now on, I'll give them a different answer: read 'Eating Animals' by Jonathan Safran Foer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2012
The best way to read any ethics/society/morality book is with an open mind - but it's also the scariest way to read! I'm not going to say anything about my personal dietary choices (possibly they are/were the same as your own), just that I did pick this book up with an open mind, and doing so was scary. As much as I think everyone should read this fascinating book, I'd understand if some people were simply too frightened to do so, too scared that it'll say something they don't want to think about. Of course, there's actually nothing scary about Safran Foer's excellent writing itself. This is a very open-minded book. He never preaches, never judges, is honest about some decisions being personal, admits to his own imperfections, and he never tries to manipulate a reader.

BUT. This is still a provocative topic, and the statistics and anecdotes in this book will undoubtedly shock any reasonable human.

And so it takes bravery to ask questions about eating animals, and even more bravery to think about the answers. It was brave of Safran Foer to write it. And no matter who you are or what you choose to eat, future potential reader (yes, I mean you), if you go ahead and read this book, I reckon you too are pretty damn brave.

The book concerns so-called factory 'farming', actual real farming, the philosophy and history of eating animals (or not), the environmental damage of farming practices, and how what's on a person's plate ties into their culture and personal relationships. It's part storytelling, part interview, a bit of (impressively well-researched and painlessly presented) statistics and part philosophy. The tone's very readable, with touches of humour in places and in others, a bold, unafraid willingness to state a horrendous bit of information IS just downright horrendous. The loose structure was a good move - the page-turning surprises keep you reading and there's moments of 'Hey, that's interesting, I never heard that before'.

Ultimately, the book leaves you with the impression that those at the top running these dangerous (check out Safran Foer's research on the terrifying effects of factory 'farmed' flesh's various chemicals, bacteria and antibiotics on human health) and unsustainable factory 'farming' systems are going 'The citizens surely wouldn't buy these dead animals to eat if things really were that bad!', and citizens are going 'The people at the top surely wouldn't let us buy these dead animals to eat if things really were that bad!'. Except, actually...things ARE 'that bad'. Our society is going round in circles with everyone involved passing the blame onto the next person, and hoping that if it stays behind closed doors nobody will notice. Because keeping things 'that bad' makes certain people considerable amounts of money. And that's why this book is important and urgent: because everyone deserves honest information about where their dinner comes from, and if they decide on act on that information in some way, it will be to everyone's benefit. So be brave, and read this book.
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