Eating Animals has probably been my favorite book so far. I engaged with this material the most, especially outside of class. I shared passages and pages with my family, on social media, with my boyfriend, etc. It lead to me having lengthy discussions and debates even with strangers.
I went vegetarian last year because of the environmental impact of large scale factory farming, but I had no idea just how bad it really was. I didn’t know about the “fecal soup” that chicken meat absorbs leading to 83% of it being contaminated with bacteria, that diseased animal flesh is injected with broth to make it taste normal, the politics behind labelling food, the tremendous amounts of by-catch from fishing, the concept of broilers versus layers and the 250 million male layers brutally slaughtered every year, the disparity and shortage of family farmers to the point that they represent only 1% of animal farmers, the legal barriers and shortcomings of the “Humane Act,” and the deep moral implications of taking the lives of sentient beings. And these are only the things I can think of off the top of my head.
This book was eye-opening and life-changing. It made me reconsider how I would want to raise a family, when or if it is appropriate to confront these issues with other people, and the kind of work I want to be doing in the Peace Corps (and my future career). I actually reached out to a Peace Corps recruiter with questions directly targeting their animal husbandry practices to see if their approaches wer ethical, and where I was willing to draw the line if they were not. I unfortunately didn’t break into factory farms during this reading but I definitely reflected back on my experiences in Pakistan where I would regularly see chickens being painfully transported in trucks, with cages as small as the book describes, and where I would also experience Eid (a religious holiday) during which my family would slaughter 3-4 animals in their backyard in front of me. It always felt wrong and I would refuse to eat that day and now I understand more fully why. I would definitely read this again and recommend it to everyone I know.