Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer

While I am not the least healthy eater in the world, the truth is that I love fast-food, desserts of all kinds, and in general food that is quick and easy. That being said, there is a lot I love that I don't eat because it's "bad." I am slowly taking steps to improve my eating habits -not just for the sake of my own future, but to also do my small part for the future of the planet, and in an effort to be a bit more conscientious about where my food is coming from and who I am harming to eat it. It takes me awhile to make changes, and because I am stubborn, I don't respond to healthy conscientious eaters throwing statistics at me or generally berating me for being so thoughtless in my consumption. Instead, I'd rather take my time to read books about different approaches to choosing what food to eat - and to think about why I want to make a change, and how I can do it in a sustainable way. On this journey, I have enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. While both books could get preachy and judgmental at times, I thought they did a good job of acknowledging the difficulties of figuring out how to make the "right" choices, and then adopting them into your life. While I did not experience a complete diet overhaul as a result of reading these books, I'd like to think they helped evolve my thinking a bit. Eating Animals is a bit more in-your-face. Foer is a die-hard vegetarian - though he is honest about the fact that he was not always that way. He goes through his different issues with being a vegetarian, and finally, his current problems with eating any sort of meat. Foer's attempts to convince people to reevalute the way they relate to animals is varied - and for this reason, I think anyone can find something in this book that speaks to them. I found most interesting Foer's discussions with vegetarians and vegans who actually run their own slaughter houses - in an effort to ensure that meat eating is done in the most humane way possible. This is, of course, contrasted with viewpoints from members of PETA who believe that any participation in the killing of animals is inhumane. Foer's philosophy background comes in handy as he makes eloquent and persuasive arguments about our place in the world vis-a-vis animals, and the belief that we can make responsible, healthy, and humane choices, and still derive substantial enjoyment in our traditions and rituals surrounding food.

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