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Eating Animals

The (a)morality of our eating habits and traditions

By Jonathan Safran Foer
18-minute read
Audio available
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals (2009) offers a comprehensive view of the modern meat industry and demonstrates how the entire production process has been so completely perverted that it is unrecognizable as farming anymore.

The book explains the moral and environmental costs incurred to achieve today‘s incredibly low meat prices.

  • Anyone interested in how meat is produced today and what the consequences are for people, animals and the environment.
  • Anyone who thinks of food as an important part of their lives, from full-blooded meat-eaters to vegetarians and vegans.

Jonathan Safran Foer is a promising young novelist from New York who has written the international bestsellers Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Contemplating the responsibilities of fatherhood lead the author to question what kind of diet he wished to provide his firstborn son. Eating Animals documents his findings and reflections on the topic.

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Eating Animals

By Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Synopsis

Eating Animals (2009) offers a comprehensive view of the modern meat industry and demonstrates how the entire production process has been so completely perverted that it is unrecognizable as farming anymore.

The book explains the moral and environmental costs incurred to achieve today‘s incredibly low meat prices.

Key idea 1 of 11

Factory farmed poultry is both ethically and hygienically revolting.

As per the factory farmer’s efficiency ethos, chickens are divided into broilers (fast-growing chickens bred for meat) and layers (fast-laying chickens bred for laying eggs).

Due to optimized breeding used since the advent of factory farming, layers now lay eggs at twice the rate they used to, and broilers’ daily growth rate has increased by 400 percent.

This extreme growth makes the birds totally unviable outside the farm, making chickens effectively an entire species on artificial life-support.

On a factory farm, layers live in coops stacked 9 stories high with less than a square foot of living space per bird. Broilers are kept on the floors of massive rooms in flocks of tens of thousands.

In such cramped conditions the birds often go insane, pecking at each other constantly. To avoid this, their beaks are sliced off with a searing hot blade. This is the equivalent of cutting the fingers off a human, leaving the intelligent and inherently curious creatures without their primary exploration device.

At slaughter, adolescent birds endure pain and terror as the stunning and slaughter machines often botch the job, leaving them writhing in pain till the end.

The meat is then pumped full of various broths to make it look, smell and taste more like chicken. The master stroke is immersing it in so-called “fecal soup”, a cooling liquid oozing with pathogens and feces from dead birds, to soak up some 20% more weight. The process virtually ensures cross-contamination of the meat by any diseases individual birds may have carried.

Thus the poultry industry reaps a 20% windfall profit from selling consumers feces and bacteria as chicken meat.

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