“Eating Animals” First Thoughts


I am about 75 pages into Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffran Foer today, and I thought it might be nice to visit some of my favorite quotes so far. I am impressed by his ability to challenge paradigms about food and animals, and he is making me think about food and how we define what we eat versus what we don’t.

  • “We need to explain that the parsley on the plate is for decoration, that pasta is not a “breakfast food,” why we can eat wings but not eyes, cows but not dogs. Stories establish narratives, and stories establish rules” (12).

    • I had never directly thought of it like this, but it is true, much like social behaviors are taught so are food behaviors. I came from a meat eating family and thus… I ate meat. I learned what was good and what was bad, and the upside of this is that if we can teach children to eat animal products, we can also teach them not to eat them.
  • “In America, millions of dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters every year become the food for our food” (27).

    • WHOA. I didn’t know this. How did I not know this? This completely challenges the idea that dogs and cats are not to be eaten because they are of a different level than cows/pigs (which is asinine, I know), but this proves further that, that is just something we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better.
  • “No reader of this book would tolerate someone swinging a pickax at a dog’s face. Nothing could be more obvious or less in need of explanation. Is such concern morally out of place when applied to fish, or are we silly to have such unquestioning concern about dogs? Is the suffering of a drawn out death something that is cruel to inflict on any animal that can experience it, or just some animals” (31).

    • I think this speaks for itself. When is it appropriate to dispense a drawn out or merciless death on an animal without concern?
  • “There is something about eating animals that tends to polarize: never eat them or never sincerely question eating them; become an activist or disdain activists. These opposing positions– and the closely related unwillingness to take a position– converge suggesting that eating animals matters. If and how we eat animals cuts to something deep” (32)

    • THIS. I think for a long time I pretended like what was happening to animals was not actually happening because I was cowardly and afraid of what people might say. Just like so many other things in this world, standing up for what you believe in takes guts, especially because people will look at you and judge you without understanding the full topic that is the basis of their judgement.
  •  “Ultimately the controversy around PETA may have less to do with the organization than those of us who stand in judgement of it– that is, with the unpleasant realization that “those PETA people”have stood up for the values we have been to cowardly or forgetful to defend ourselves” (72).

    • Cowardly, forgetful.
  • “Two friends are ordering lunch. One says, ‘I’m in the mood for a burger,’ and orders it. The other says, ‘I’m in the mood for a burger,’ but remembers that there are things more important to him than what he is in the mood for at any given moment, and orders something else. Who is the sentimentalist?” (74).

    • I love this, because people are so quick to say, “you’re too sensitive” or the whole “bleeding heart vegan” idea, but the truth is that vegans are often informed about farming practices that others are not and make the more difficult choice to abstain in a culture where animal products are incredibly prevalent.

That is what I’ve collected so far. Interested to hear any of your thoughts. I feel like I am on a journey of sorts right now. Everywhere I look I see articles about animal treatment and the environment as it relates to veganism, and I am glad. I am glad to be spending my time learning about something, and not turning my back anymore.


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