I had heard quite a bit of buzz about this book previously, but never actually bothered to pick it up and read it because one of my main concerns that it was going to be someone standing on a soapbox preaching about the volatile nature of eating meat. Instead of being a kind of witch hunt calling out people who aren’t vegetarians it was a more personal account of being a vegetarian and then also went on to examine the more serious issues that many people are content to be ignorant about. After being exposed on multiple occasions and having a passion for cooking food myself, I’ve been lucky, or unfortunate enough to know how much of today’s food is processed and actually gets to the table. Without this background knowledge it would be very easy to not think about these processes. I think Foer did a good job of putting these in context that was familiar and not too far fetched so that many different kinds of people could relate on some level.
One of the main things that this book did for me was to disillusion people about food and the reality of the lives of the animals. Most people have at least somewhat heard about the deplorable conditions that animals endure everyday but when that is not actually something people are seeing in real life and thinking about when purchasing meat. This fact makes it very easy to create a kind of disconnect from these conditions. One of my favorite parts of this book was how Foer used Orwell’s quote from Animal Farm that “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” I think this along with Foer’s dramatic explanation of eating dogs and cats really shows how people are very much concerned with how some animals are treated versus others.
Another thing I greatly enjoyed about this book was Foer being wholly sarcastic and frank. Especially in his “Words and Meanings” section when he defined “Bullshit” as the shit of the bull. Overall I am glad this book was a pretentious attempt to shove vegetarianism and not meat down people’s throats.