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Book Review: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Title: Eating Animals (GoodReads)
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Page Count: 341
F/NF: Nonfiction
Genre: Food, Animal Rights

Goodreads Summary:
Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between carnivore and vegetarian. As he became a husband and a father, he kept returning to two questions: Why do we eat animals? And would we eat them if we knew how they got on our dinner plates?

Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, and his own undercover detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales justify a brutal ignorance. Marked by Foer’s profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, huge bestsellers, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we’ve told–and the stories we now need to tell.

Opinion:
I’ve had this book for several months and only just got around to finishing it. I really don’t know what took me so long. This is a fantastic book, the sort of book I wish everyone would read. Foer manages to advocate for a vegetarian lifestyle without saying that anyone who eats meat is stupid or immoral or anything like that. In fact, he interviews several people involved with the production of meat. He doesn’t agree with them all the time, but I think he treats them fairly.

He’s very sympathetic to meat eaters while still refusing to back down from his position once he’s made one. He brings up the question of animal rights versus animal welfare. He explains how animals are processed and describes (in too much detail, really) the horrors that animals have to suffer before and while they are being butchered.

What I enjoyed most about this book, though, were the side effects of eating animals that I had never thought about before. I knew already that factory farming is horrible for the environment and for the animals, and I knew abstractly that it was bad for our health, but Foer goes into more detail about just why it’s so bad for our health. He mentions the side effects of spraying pig feces into the air and having all that crap seep into our lungs and our water supply and everything else. He talks about what happens after the chicken is dead and just how gross the meat they’re sending out to us really is.

Here are just some of the most interesting facts that I learned from this book:
• The source of the “Spanish” flu that killed 50 million people worldwide in 1918 started as bird flu.
• 4 million chickens are scalded alive each year in the US.
• Chicken feces are now classified as a “cosmetic blemish” and can therefore be present in the chickens they sell for food.
• USDA inspectors have about two seconds to examine each bird.
• People in the US are given 3 million pounds of antibiotics each year; livestock are given 24.6 million pounds – when they’re not even sick.
• 1/3 of the land surface on the planet is dedicated to livestock.
• More than 99 percent of the meat eaten in America comes from factory farms.
• Animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than any other industry – 40 percent more than the transportation industry.

10/10

If I wasn’t already a vegan, I would be after reading this book. I highly recommend everyone read this book. If you care about your health, the planet, and/or the suffering of animals, you will want to read this book. When people think of where meat comes from, they generally think of a nice family farm where animals live a good life until they are sent to be killed quickly, and that is not the case at all, at least not anymore.

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Book 15: The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott

Title: The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life: Cruelty-Free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets, and More
Author: Melisser Elliott
Page Count: 224
F/NF Non Fiction
Genre Lifestyle/nutrition

Rating: 8/10

Summary:
In this book, Melisser Elliott sums up everything a new vegan needs to know to succeed in this lifestyle. She explains multiple reasons why people go vegan and why doing so is good for animals, the environment, and people. She also provides recipes, blogs, websites, and other information to help make the transition easier.

Opinion:
I’ve done a lot of research into veganism in the past month, and I still found this book interesting. I already knew most of what was in this book, but it was nice having it all in one spot. I particularly enjoyed all the information on why going vegan is good for animals. I already know most of it, but this book definitely helped explain some things that I hadn’t learned yet – like why vegans don’t eat honey and why wearing wool is cruel, even if the animals aren’t killed. I also found the “That isn’t vegan?” section really useful. She also includes profiles on many bloggers and owners of vegan companies. Some of the links no longer worked, but many of them did, and they were interesting to look at.The most useful part, at least for me, was the part where she included a list of common questions/taunts that vegans face, along with proper comebacks for them. I’ll definitely have to commit most of those to memory. 🙂

I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone who has been a vegan for a serious amount of time. I bought the Kindle version for 99 cents, and I feel that I got my money’s worth, but I would have been upset had I spent $10 on the paperback copy. There are relatively few recipes in this book, and the only “beauty secrets” in there are the lists of cruelty-free companies, which you could get from PETA.

Overall, I think this was a good book, and I think it was well worth the dollar I spent on it. If you’re new to veganism or simply curious about the lifestyle and why people choose to follow it, I highly recommend it. However, if you’ve been a vegan for a while and already know where to get cruelty-free products and know about the horrible things people do to animals, you probably don’t need this book.