Friday, September 17, 2010

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

My good friend Annie sent me a link to an article in the Guardian by Jonathan Safran Foer all about his relationship with meat. I enjoyed it so I bought the book. I have read Safran Foer's other books and had decided to suspend my judgement. What I mean by that is that I had not particularly enjoyed his novels but could see that he was being adventurous with his writing and trying different things out (writing this now I am tempted to go back and re-read him to see if my impressions are different this time around). Anyway, this book is non-fiction, so delving into different realms of writing.

I have been more or less vegetarian for 25 years. I stopped eating sausages and burgers first because I can be a control freak and didn't like the idea of eating meat when I didn't know the exact contents (including such delights as eyelids and other bits of meat the butcher want to get rid of in a more acceptable package). Then I stopped eating chickens because of the antibiotics and other drugs pumped into birds at factory farms. Eventually I evolved into a vegetarian. I became a pescatarian after a few years, mainly prompted by a move to the Middle East and a marriage to a tolerant carnivore who likes to cook.

So, if you are already a vegetarian, this book will probably confirm that you are doing the right thing...if you are a commited carnivore, you will probably hate it. Apparently Gordon Ramsey recently claimed that he would be horrified if his children opted to become vegetarian. However, this book underpins the dreadful reality of providing cheap meat for a nation of people and the consequences.

It is a book about animal cruelty but it is also a far wider reaching book about pollution and sustainable farming. It's about antibiotics and health and the consequences that we are yet to face up to. It is interesting to note the figures if the populations of China and Indian begin to eat as much meat as America and Britain do now. We just cannot sustain it, unless we are prepared to ignore the pollution and the health risks and the genetic inheritance that is fast disappearing. You may not enjoy the book, but it is certainly thought provoking. Gordon Ramsey should read it!

The book should also make us proud of British food writers and chefs who are drawing our attention to the benefits of animals who are reared as nature intended. These chefs, journalists and writers are carefully and compassionately showing that in Britain, there are some farmers who still raise their chickens and cows with care. there is a growing trend towards finding out where your meat has been raised before eating it. Safran Foer's book should certainly contribute towards a movement where people either think more carefully about where their meat comes from, or become vegetarian. Alternatively, we can just carry on oblivious and see what happens to the world...


  1. But Good Ol' Gord is a well known flesh monster. Often used to b seen at the seedy Dubai nightclub (appropriately called, but mysteriously spelt Jimmy Dix) trying to pick up goats, the odd lamb but only really succeeded in pulling dubious mutton. If you were a plant, or, indeed, any kind of vegetable, Ramsay just trod on you. Aren't metaphors great?

  2. Alright Miss, I mean, Sian? Despite being a confirmed omnivore I'm completely aware of the horrors of the food industry, but do my bit to avoid them with responsible purchasing etc etc. But what do you mean "reserving judgement" on his first 2 books? The kid's a virtuoso. I'm not sure if I prefer "Everything is Illuminated" or "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (generally its whichever one I've re-read most recently), but they're both in my top five favourite books. The hype being given to Franzen's all good, but I don't get why Foer isn't better known. In terms of looking at 9/11 and his general ruminations of grief an that, he blew Roth and Updike out the water. As the woman I hold most responsible for my hedonistic spending in Waterstone's, I demand to hear your judgement. Hope you are all doing well in Spain - Luke Finn

  3. Aha! Fame at last, mentioned in dispatches/Sian's blog. Am at peace with the world!
    By the way, agree with your review entirely, which is maybe no surprise :-) Annie


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