To begin with, I approached this book with caution. Aware of what the title suggests, I began reading it with some extent of skepticism. The whole reading process spanned across 5 months, with an intermission of 3 months before picking it up again, and finishing it within 2 weeks. Thought I would be upfront about it.
Prior to writing my review, I have read a couple of comments by established columnists in hope to find some insights. Most of them stated that they are ‘not convinced’ or ‘not moved’ by Foer’s approach in selling vegetarianism. They said he has ‘contradictory’ views on the topic. The columnists’ insights are all in quotations, due to my amateurish quibble with their validity.
First off, according to the author, it’s a book about something else other than meat. In a book trailer (Watch here), Foer introduced this book as a book about family. It started with a story of him growing up going to his grandma’s house, him and his dog, George, raising his son and ended with coming to terms whether to put a turkey on the table during Thanksgiving. If we look at it that way, it is what he said it is.
A lot of reviews have problem with Foer stating that he is vegetarian but not committing to the narrative. Despite writing about the horror in slaughter houses and factory farming, he ends his book without a definite urge to stop anyone from eating meat. To me, that’s the perfect way to let readers figure out their own reasons, that may or may not drive them to become vegetarian. He is only here to confirm what we have heard of, and put them into words. After all, if you have the will power to ignore what you already unknowingly know, or the truth that’s bubbling underneath the surface, carry on with your diet and forget about this book. You are going to ignore what anyone has to say on the issue anyway.
The book got me thinking long and hard about whether to be vegetarian and, questioning what is it that’s revolting about being vegetarian or vegan? The answer: I don’t want to be like ‘them’. Them, as in those who are condemning, also the ones being condemned. There is always more we can do, but does it always need to be an all-or-nothing type of deal? It seems like there will be inconvenient discussions either way. I am not one who likes picking sides, especially when I am with both side to certain extent. Seems like, what I am struggling to find is, middle ground. Can an ethical diet include both meat and veggies? ‘Cause there seems to be a possibility, from what the book says. At least that’s what I gathered.
Like most people, I asked Google. The first answer I saw, shocked me to the core, and made me look stupid. (Try it for yourself, type ‘ ethical diet’ in Google search and brace yourself.) After processing that initial shaming, I resolved in the next answer. “Ethical eating isn’t about a black and white choice where vegetarian and vegan is always good and meat is always bad,” said Marissa Landrigan, author of The Vegetarian’s guide to eating meat: A young woman’s search for Ethical Food. “I had to decide what was more important: always boycotting meat or generally supporting the most ethical and sustainable and humane food production I could find, which would sometimes involve livestock animals.” (Interview by the star.com)
I see people’s frustration with Eating Animals: it’s neither here, nor there. It is not a book that decides whether to be a vegetarian/vegan for you. It is a book that reasons with you, and make you choose for yourself. To some people, that’s not a good book. For me, that’s the perfect book to have me thinking about it for 4 weeks, and counting.
There are so much more I wanted to say on the topic of ethical diet. I am diligently doing my research, it is slowly taking over my Evernote clipboard. There will be at least one more article coming if not more. So, stay tuned!
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