eating animals // some thoughts

I had the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer on hold at the library. It’s a very popular book and I was on hold for a long time. While I was waiting I wrote this post about my food journey and read this review of the book which was featured on Freshly Pressed. I was even more interested in getting my hands on the book after reading this.

I have read In Defence of Animals and watched Food Inc among other books, resources and videos. Sometimes I feel disgruntled by the aggression or patronising tone that some people use to express their opinions about eating animals which is what made me stop reading In Defence of Animals. One of the main reasons I don’t eat meat is because of the cruelty inflicted upon animals, particularly in the manner in which we ‘produce’ meat these days in factory ‘farms’. I have always seen vegetarianism as a personal choice and perhaps because I am the type of person that has strong opinions on a number of topics I get tired of myself and prefer not to have to continually justify or talk about my choices. I don’t believe that handing out fake blood stained happy meals with axe-yielding Ronald McDonalds’ to children is the right thing to do, although things like this appear to have achieved various results for certain advocacy groups. I do want to be informed… just on my own level.

Two weeks ago, I got the book. I guess you could say I had high expectations of this one, and I had heard a number of people say it was ‘different’ to the other books of a similar nature.

They were right!

The main difference for me was that Safran Foer wrote from the perspective of someone like me. Someone who has had a baby, has got to a point where they have to feed the baby, and has begun to ask some serious questions about the food that is on the baby’s plate. I can relate to that. The book follows Safran Foer’s careful dissection of our childhoods, our stories, cultural truths and myths. Although it is an American book, from previous reading I know our situation in Australia is sadly not far behind.

While ads on television were flashing in my lounge room about the hero dog who lost an eye, I was reading about billions of chickens being crammed into artificially lit sheds for the 6-8 weeks of their miserable lives. While my family were throwing steaks on the barbie, I was reading about the hormones and antibiotics pumped into the animals we eat. While my daughter was offered a lamb bone to chew, I was reading about predictions that the world’s next pandemic will be caused by disease that runs rampant in factory farmed poultry.

Although a lot of the book confirmed things I had read in the past, the vibrant way in which it is written is welcoming and enticing to all readers. Reading this book not only confirmed my decision not to eat meat, but it also made me feel quite guilty about the nonchalant manner in which I eat fish, somehow making excuses for how it is ‘different’.

My main problem stems from the way in which food is mass (MASS) produced, at great cost to the environment, to our health and to the quality of life of the animals we eat. I still have more to learn, and need to think more about what my feelings mean for my family and our food choices. But I think everyone knows, deep down, when something just isn’t right.

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For more information about our local state of affairs here in Australia, you might like to visit Animals Australia.


  1. Sarah August 29, 2011

    Hey Lucy, Your post reminded me of a TV show I watched recently featuring Robert Clark from C Restaurant in Vancouver who founded Ocean Wise and changed Vancouver’s approach to eating seafood – The thing that interests me the most, seeing as I don’t imagine our family ever giving up meat all together, is thinking about the most local, most natural sources we could come by. We are lucky to live riverside and amongst farmers who are good to their livestock, but it is still easier for people to buy at the supermarket. I feel hopeful seeing the activism of our generation on so many issues like this, and I think we should keep the pressure on businesses to use ethical practices to produce our food. Fewer, more ethical choices at the shops would increase consumer confidence, at least for me and my family anyway. What do you think?

    • motherwho September 1, 2011

      Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment. I think ethical choices are definitely the way of the future – just a matter of getting the message out in terms of what IS and ISN’T ethical. A lot of the problems we see in the food industry are due to the fact that they have been kept secret, or are not common knowledge. Seems we are very good at turning a blind eye. xo

  2. earth sky sea child September 1, 2011

    Had not heard of this book so thanks . i will definately request it at my library, and yes of course it is your decision to be vegetarian. Luckily with the summer coming and all the lovely food in Oz it is easier at gatherings to eat vege and not have to do the whole rigamarole.

    • motherwho September 1, 2011

      Thanks for the comment 🙂 Let me know what you think of the book!

  3. earth sky sea child September 1, 2011

    P.S. Happy Wattle Day to you – found you at Early play

  4. Lila Wolff September 9, 2011

    Hi, I’m not a vegetarian so I hope asking doesn’t come out all wrong and rude but, I’m really curious as to why you felt / feel eating fish is different? It’s just something that I’ve noticed others say but haven’t had the opportunity to question.

    • motherwho September 9, 2011

      Hi Lila, thanks so much for your comment. Please don’t feel rude, your thoughts are very welcome here! I really am curious too as to why fish seem to be easier to put in a different category for lots of people, me included. Deep down I don’t feel like it’s right, and I guess that’s what I meant in my post when I said that somehow I have convinced myself to turn a blind eye, when really, I believe animals are all animals. I think perhaps I am able to more easily turn a blind eye due to being able to relate to different animals – I suppose out of all the animals we traditionally eat, fish are the least relatable if that makes any sense whatsoever. This is not to say that I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I really don’t think it’s right to eat one animal and not another, even though it’s what I’m currently doing, I don’t feel comfortable with it, which is part of what I’m grappling with. The argument can go the other way too, eg. when we eat sheep, cow, pigs, fish, etc, why can’t we just as easily eat dogs, cats and horses? Speciesism is very ingrained in Western culture. Gah! I don’t think this has answered your question, but thanks again for your thoughts. x

      • Lila Wolff September 10, 2011

        Thank you, it’s still interesting to know the thought process. It’s definitely a tangled and emotional choice no matter where we do or don’t draw the line. I actually find it harder to eat fish since my parents had pet cat fish who used to cuddle up to each other after seeing them be affectionate I’ve struggled. I have borrowed eating animals from the library to read it seems interesting.

        • motherwho September 12, 2011

          Thanks Lila, it’s a complicated thought process, at least for me, but I think it’s the same for everyone depending on where they have come from and where they are going. Let me know what you think of the book, I’m glad I’ve inspired you to read it!


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