Eating Animals Notes

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Storytelling/ All or Nothing or Something Else

  • Relationship with our pets in comparison with “eating animals”
  • Factory Farming – “a system of industrialized and intensive agriculture in which animals – often housed by the tens or even hundreds of thousands – are genetically engineered, restricted in mobility, and fed unnatural diets.” 34
  • Approximately 50 billion land animals are not factory farmed every year
  • 99% of all land animals eaten or used to produce milk and eggs in the U.S. are factory farmed
  • Comparisons between humans and fish – we can recognize parts of ourselves in fish but then choose to ignore that when we choose to eat them – goes for all animals
  • Shame is an integral part of this conversation – letting it rule your plate can make or break the choices you choose to make about food. This is a huge part of my own struggle with eating meat. Ignorance is bliss can only last for so long and because it has become a much broader problem within our society, I’m slowly considering changing my meat/fish consumption.


Words / Meaning

  • “’Veal’ helps us forget what we are actually talking about…’free range’ can mislead those whose consciences seek clarification.” It’s clear that the media has found ways to manipulate the public and justify them purchasing certain things that would be better for the environment/animal kingdom.
  • Animal v. Human v. Nature v. Wilderness
  • “How much do I value creating a socially comfortable situation and how much do I value acting socially responsible?”
  • Farm Sanctuaries – I had never heard of these before but I appreciate them.
  • According to the UN and Pew Commission, “farmed animals contribute more to climate change than transport.”
  • Poultry/turkey discussion is graphic and disturbing and I didn’t want to read it but it was necessary. So sad.
  • Discussion about animals/intelligence. Some humans seem to think that just because they cannot understand an animal’s psyche means that they are not intelligent. It’s like comparing a mentally disabled person to that of a non-mentally disabled person. They are just as intelligent but seeing eye to eye is not always the easiest.
  • “Our situation is an odd one. Virtually all of us agree that it matters how we treat our animals and the environment and yet few of us give much thought to our most important relationship to animals and the environment.” And those who do are considered radical. It’s sad that we are a nation filled with hypocrites in this sense, myself included.
  • The Species Barrier – humans v animals
  • Factories base their success off of and rely on people’s blindness and ignorance to what they do and how they do it, exactly.
  • Illnesses are showing up – diabetes, inflammatory/autoimmune, etc – FOOD itself is changing human biology. The fact that what we eat (animals, in this case, food) only strengthens the argument that we are interconnected and are largely the same and should, ethically, be treated the same.


  • “Pandemic is overdue”
  • The flu is all about our relationship with birds
  • American slaughterhouses violate human rights laws – in addition to clear animal violations – how can we sustain supply/demand and not violate laws?
  • Vegetarians and vegans “meet and exceed requirements” for protein.
  • Vegetarians and vegans tend to have more optimal protein consumption than omnivores.
  • Being lied to about nutrition – “what the public learns of the scientific data on nutrition and health comes to us by way of many hands.” There are definitely those who influence how “nutritional data” will be presented.
  • The USDA has monopoly on nutrition boxes

Slices of Paradise/Pieces of Shit

  • Pigs have literally been so genetically altered that they need fake sunlight and weather conditions to thrive – “we are breeding creatures incapable of surviving in any place other than the most artificial of settings.’
  • The most successful legal battles against hog factory farms in the United States have focused on their incredible potential to pollute. – Animal rights aren’t good enough? Sad that pollution/reputation/capital is the fueling force behind successful lawsuits.
  • Children raised on the grounds of a typical hog factory farm have asthma rates exceeding 50 percent and children raised near factory farms are twice as likely to develop asthma. – This shocking fact reflects the interconnectedness of farming, animals, and human life
  • “Shit became a problem only when Americans decided we wanted to eat more meat than any other culture in history and pay historically little for it.”
  • Shit goes to lagoons – as large as 120,000 square feet and can be 30 feet deep. They fail to keep waste inside.
  • Factory farming – aquaculture – each animal suffers in different ways
  • No law requires the humane slaughter of fish
  • WE are eating animals – food and tradition, compromising it for the sake of humanity


I Do

  • Factory farming is all about money – concern isn’t feeding people
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer – “most extreme racist theory” – animal rights was the purest form of social-justice advocacy, mistreating animals was the most vulnerable of all the downtrodden
  • Can you really have best of both worlds? Being vegan/slaughterhouse
  • Changing the American table
  • Social engagement about factory farming/eating animals



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