Reading Response: Eating Animals

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals was a tough read, just because of the graphic nature of the book. The descriptions of the slaughters reminded me of the book A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck; we read it in middle school and a girl fainted because it was so graphic.

Robert, the main character, had to help his dad kill and "process" his beloved pet pig, Pinky.

Robert, the main character, had to help his dad kill and “process” his beloved pet pig, Pinky.

  • Going into the book, I was almost expecting to feel attacked for eating meat, but Foer presented his argument in a way that highlighted the stickiness of the situation; he also was candid about having eaten meat in the past, and he didn’t seem hypocritical at all for vouching for vegetarianism. I felt guilty for supporting factory farming, but I didn’t feel like Foer judged me for my choices. I appreciated that he also included testimonials from people defending different sides; it was interesting to hear how Nicolette justified vegetarianism while running a cattle farm, and Bruce Friedrich’s response to her views.
  • There’s a butcher shop called Copey’s near where I live; we’ve bought meat from there before, and sometimes my mom buys bones for the dogs. They have a deli and bakery, and they also offer custom butchering and processing. Their website says nothing about their butchering process (of course) so I’m wondering how it compares to places in the book, like Paradise Locker Meats.
  • There’s also a bison farm near where I live! It’s called Quiet Creek Bison Farm. know they sell their meat in the same place where they raise their bison, but I don’t think they butcher the bison there. I wonder where they send their animals to be killed? They have a link to their website on their Facebook page, but the link doesn’t work.
  • On the practical level, I agree with Foer’s argument for eating dogs (page 24). People were raising a huge riot about the dog eating festivals in other countries (especially big animal advocates like Ricky Gervais), and I agree that it is wrong to torture the animals. However, I don’t think it’s right to condemn the practice of eating the animals, as long as they are raised ethically and killed ethically. On a personal level though, and because I was raised in a society that gave me this mindset, I really couldn’t eat dog myself. Similarly, I could never eat foie gras, and I’ve only had veal once and I hated it.
  • I never enjoyed fishing as a kid. We have a pond behind our house that is well stocked with bluegill, smallmouth bass, and catfish, and we used to fish back there all the time. My big brother still enjoys fishing there. I, however, always felt bad, even though I did get that rush of adrenaline when a fish tugged at my hook, and a feeling of satisfaction when I reeled one in. I felt bad for the worms that I put on the hooks, and I felt bad for the fish that I caught. We almost always put the fish back; a couple of times, we caught catfish and cooked them, but only rarely. I remember hearing from someone that fish don’t have the same pain receptors that we do, so it doesn’t hurt them to be hooked, but by Foer’s account the fish in the aquaculture farms suffer just as much as sheep or cattle or chickens.
  • I hate the idea that I contribute to factory farming every time I buy chicken or beef at the store. However, Foer has such a strong point that food is such a part of peoples’ identity and culture, and to give up those things would be to let go of some traditions and memories. I don’t think I would be able to give up my childhood memories, especially since I attach a very strong value to them. I also really don’t think I could give up meat, because it is so tasty. And I agree with Foer when he essentially says that someone who agrees to eat locally but still buys factory farmed meat is half-assing it.

One Response to Reading Response: Eating Animals

  1. […] half) (pub. 9/22) – Week 6 (9/30): Nature (second half) (pub. 9/29) – Week 7 (10/7): Eating Animals (pub. 10/4) – Week 10 (10/28): Environment & Society (pub. 10/27) – Week 11 […]

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