I had the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer on hold at the library. It’s a very popular book and I was on hold for a long time. While I was waiting I wrote this post about my food journey and read this review of the book which was featured on Freshly Pressed. I was even more interested in getting my hands on the book after reading this.
I have read In Defence of Animals and watched Food Inc among other books, resources and videos. Sometimes I feel disgruntled by the aggression or patronising tone that some people use to express their opinions about eating animals which is what made me stop reading In Defence of Animals. One of the main reasons I don’t eat meat is because of the cruelty inflicted upon animals, particularly in the manner in which we ‘produce’ meat these days in factory ‘farms’. I have always seen vegetarianism as a personal choice and perhaps because I am the type of person that has strong opinions on a number of topics I get tired of myself and prefer not to have to continually justify or talk about my choices. I don’t believe that handing out fake blood stained happy meals with axe-yielding Ronald McDonalds’ to children is the right thing to do, although things like this appear to have achieved various results for certain advocacy groups. I do want to be informed… just on my own level.
Two weeks ago, I got the book. I guess you could say I had high expectations of this one, and I had heard a number of people say it was ‘different’ to the other books of a similar nature.
They were right!
The main difference for me was that Safran Foer wrote from the perspective of someone like me. Someone who has had a baby, has got to a point where they have to feed the baby, and has begun to ask some serious questions about the food that is on the baby’s plate. I can relate to that. The book follows Safran Foer’s careful dissection of our childhoods, our stories, cultural truths and myths. Although it is an American book, from previous reading I know our situation in Australia is sadly not far behind.
While ads on television were flashing in my lounge room about the hero dog who lost an eye, I was reading about billions of chickens being crammed into artificially lit sheds for the 6-8 weeks of their miserable lives. While my family were throwing steaks on the barbie, I was reading about the hormones and antibiotics pumped into the animals we eat. While my daughter was offered a lamb bone to chew, I was reading about predictions that the world’s next pandemic will be caused by disease that runs rampant in factory farmed poultry.
Although a lot of the book confirmed things I had read in the past, the vibrant way in which it is written is welcoming and enticing to all readers. Reading this book not only confirmed my decision not to eat meat, but it also made me feel quite guilty about the nonchalant manner in which I eat fish, somehow making excuses for how it is ‘different’.
My main problem stems from the way in which food is mass (MASS) produced, at great cost to the environment, to our health and to the quality of life of the animals we eat. I still have more to learn, and need to think more about what my feelings mean for my family and our food choices. But I think everyone knows, deep down, when something just isn’t right.
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For more information about our local state of affairs here in Australia, you might like to visit Animals Australia.