Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Thoughts on "Eating Animals"


While reading the book, “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Foer, Foer's first non fiction novel that explores how the animals people eat on a day to day base are treated. While reading, opinions and ideas were forming in my head. I could picture what my blog post would consist of. I could also picture me sitting on my table, typing away page after page of my thoughts that more often than not contradicts the book. Unfortunately, when I ignored the side of me that begged my hands to stop writing the post and go back to a relentless time spent on Facebook, all my thoughts were in vain. I couldn’t write a sentence without stopping and deleting. Finally, I have put my blocking thoughts aside, and am ready to get down to writing a post I have been putting off for a long time.

Firstly, I think this piece of extremely well structured and written literature is rather bias. I appreciate the fact that Foer’s motive and goal (in my opinion) isn’t to tell the reader that: “Okay, this is what it is, and this is what you have to do.” But it is a sheer collection of facts and stories. What we want to do with this collection of facts and stories, Foer leaves the reader to decide. On the other hand however, I feel as though this is a bit of a twist of words, almost manipulated so that the reader is provoked into becoming vegetarian, or feeling so extremely guilty about eating meat after reading the text, that they just stop altogether. 

Foer’s book basically talks about how pigs, chickens, cows (mostly the meat we east on a day-to-day bases) are treated before death. The book explains the extreme ill-treatment and injustice us humans show towards these kind creatures. I believe the content of the book is there, and is strong, however the execution could have been so much more powerful if Foer would have also emphasized on how organic animal farms treat the animals they later send to restaurants and grocery retailers (open grass, quality food, and in general: a much more comfortable life) As an animal lover, and a meat enthusiast at the same time, I should have been feeling rather despicable while reading the book, “Such a hypocrite, tells people she loves animals but eats them at the same time!” The book is not a “vegetarian book” You know the usual- animals are cute, don’t kill them type. However, this post would have been much, MUCH simpler if it was. Unfortunately, its not, which is why I have extremely mixed feelings about what Foer says. I love that he blatantly reveals the truth on factory farming. Nothing hidden, nothing sugar coated. But as I had mentioned before, he could have mentioned the other side to farming, to give the reader a perspective on how there are two sides to every story, and instead of giving up your main source of protein, finding other ways to stop this from occurring, which is basically buying organic everything. I know I come back to this point in every animal related debate I enter, but there really isn’t many other ways of doing it. Everything connects to nature. Become vegan: thousands of trees cut down, gallons of pesticide sprayed (killing the animals that inhabited the land before hand) the chemicals in the land for better fertilization. Become vegetarian: Eggs from the exact same farms that a non vegetarian’s meat comes from, but those “laying” chickens live an even longer, even more tortured life, the cows that produce our milk, cheese, cream, butter: they aren’t treated much better either.  

I’m finding it really difficult to word my opinions at the moment, but what I am trying to say is  that the whole book seems to be a huge implication that you should go vegetarian, and that eating meat is wrong, but does not plainly say so. There are a lot of books, documentaries and movie clips about this cause, yet there hasn’t been that much of a recognizable difference. I believe it would have been far more powerful if Foer had mentioned the other side to this whole situation, and how we can put all these ridiculous slaughter houses out of business. Let’s face it, we cannot get the whole world to turn vegetarian. What we can do, is get enough people to start buying organic products so that the prices for these organic products go down (however, they will always be a more expensive than the usual slaughter-house fresh meat and dairy) causing even more people to switch. I strongly believe this is the only way we can ever make a change. Back to the book, I liked it in general. The structure is phenomenal but it just feels as though there is a secret message behind it all. And just because Foer is not obvious with it, does not mean its not there.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you took the time to read this book. It shows great dedication to take such a dense book as a recommendation from your teacher and actually read. Then to write such a heartfelt and thoughtful post? I applaud you. Thank you....

    Now let's get to the discussion. First, if I can give you some feedback to help you next time. This is not a simple topic and it sounded like you had a hard time figuring out which angle to take. I think this is a great first draft. A sorting of your ideas and an initial outlining and structure. But what is the thesis? What is the point you were trying to make.

    Several times you found yourself either repeating yourself, or going down a dead end line of thinking. Now that you have written this post, look back: what could some thesis ideas be?

    Looking to me like you were saying:

    You agreed with Foer's condemnation of factory farms, but you felt like he should have spent equal time talking about the value in organic farming as an alternative to vegetarianism. You also felt that he had a (not so hidden) agenda.

    Fair enough. I agree with you when you said:

    "The book is not a “vegetarian book” You know the usual- animals are cute, don’t kill them type. However, this post would have been much, MUCH simpler if it was.

    Unfortunately, its not, which is why I have extremely mixed feelings about what Foer says....he could have mentioned the other side to farming, to give the reader a perspective on how there are two sides to every story, and instead of giving up your main source of protein, finding other ways to stop this from occurring, which is basically buying organic everything."

    But remember that an author's intent and bias are two different things. I don't think he didn't talk about organic farming because he was trying to deceive you. I think he just wanted to make the point that factory farms, and fishing and the way we produce food on an industrial level (about how 90% of the world gets their food) is bad for us, bad for the animals, bad for the planet and possible unethical.

    Like you said, he is planting the seed. Now how you react and how you feel is to your conscience no? In what ways, other than laying down the stories and "facts" from his research his he manipulating your emotions?

    I don't know about you, but for me. I head the guilt and didn't fight it and accuse him of manipulating, me. I saw it as a chance to accept it. When we feel guilty, we often try to assign blame. Perhaps, it can be an opportunity to question why we feel that way.

    These are complex questions and issues and it is beyond commendable that a person your age is even considering such things. You have a lifetime to come to your own understandings and values.

    I am just glad that you read the book and attempted to articulate your thoughts. As for the organic debate...check out a book called Omnivore's Dilemma. More interesting stuff.

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