Review – Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


“I simply wanted to know – for myself and mu family – what meat is. Where does it come from? How is it produced? What are the economic, social and environmental effects? Are there animals that it is straightforwardly right to eat? Are there situations in which not eating animals is wrong? If this began as a personal quest, it didn’t stay that way for long…”

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals is the most original book on the subject of food written in this century. It will change the way you think, and change the way you eat. For good.

This book was not written for vegetarians or vegans. Part of it’s brilliance is that it is unbiased. The author was not a vegetarian to start with and set out on a quest lasting three years to find out what actually happens before meat is served up on your roast dinner. He looks at factory farming of different types of animals from pigs to chickens, cows and even fish. He then looks at the way free range animals are treated and speaks to a variety of people from factory farm workers to vegans and everything in between. This book goes in depth and as you would expect is truly shocking and disturbing.

Once the cruelty of animal farming has been discussed the author goes onto wondering how to solve this major problem. He looks at whether veganism and vegetarianism is the best way or whether we should be working on destroying factory farming and going back to basics.This brings him to talk to many interesting people including a vegetarian rancher and a vegan who owns a slaughter house. It is a thought provoking issue and he does not judge people for their decisions.

This is definitely a book that needs to be read by anyone who eats meat (and even those who don’t). It’s not a case of trying to make people feel guilty for enjoying their cheeseburger, it’s a case of making them aware where that burger has come from. If you do want to eat meat it’s important to know how that meat ended up on your plate. If you decide to carry on eating it that’s up to you but people should not be living in ignorance. I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from this shocking but brilliant book.

“Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?”


Genetically modifying cows so they produce allergy free milk?

I mean seriously? I thought this was a joke when I first read about it in yesterday’s newspaper. 

For a start I think drinking cows milk is really weird. I know that most people do not agree with me but drinking another animal’s milk is just not natural. That milk is produced for calves not for human babies (or human adults for that matter). Would you drink milk from a cat or a dog? I didn’t think so.

I have to look at dairy farming from an animal cruelty point of view as well. Many people say that milking a cow actually helps the animal because if you didn’t get rid of the excess milk in the cows body then it would be in pain. I’m not buying it. Cows (like humans) produce enough milk to feed their calves. Have you ever wondered why cows constantly produce this milk? Calves are taken from their mothers when they are born, causing stress to both individuals. Female calves are either killed or kept to grow and be dairy cows. Male calves are put in stalls so that veal can be produced (a whole other animal welfare issue). All this so we can have milk in our coffee.

Anyway, I digress! The reason scientists are genetically modifying cows is that many children are allergic to certain proteins in the milk. I do not find this a very good reason to fool around with a cow’s genes. There are a whole range of milks out there that are not only free of these proteins but are better for both the environment and the animal. Off the top of my head there are soya, almond, hazelnut, coconut, rice, oat… the list goes on. 

Apparently the genetically modified milk actually contains more of the other proteins found in milk which are also harmful to a large percentage of the population. Another reason why it is a waste of time!

Surely it is more beneficial to encourage people who cannot digest milk to drink a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative which will cause them no harm?