Book: Eating Animals

Eighteen months ago, I stopped eating meat. I also changed from drinking coffee to drinking tea, and for the first time ever, embraced a religion—Chinese Buddhism—into my life. It was the best thing I ever did.

Vegetarianism came first. My main concern wasn’t animal welfare, but the quality and nutritional content of the meat I was eating. In Beijing, my local vendor only sold the fattiest cuts of pork, the quality (and hygiene standards) of which were questionable at best.

I didn’t miss meat. Cooking became quicker, cheaper and cleaner, and ordering restaurant dishes became a smoother operation (just read the menu back-to-front, starting with the vegetable side-dishes). Vegetarians have it easier in the grocery store, too—we can avoid the meat, fish, dairy, and alcohol aisles and cut browsing times roughly in half. I also feel much calmer—probably due to the lack of excessive lipid-based animal hormones in my system.

Tea came next. I met a tea connoisseur, who introduced me to different teas and teahouses in Beijing. Tea replaced my daily coffee because its easier to brew and can be consumed safely all day. Green, white and oolong teas made me calm enough—for the first time ever—to read books, which gave rise to this blog.

Chinese Buddhism then came easily. I already loved China and wanted to become more Chinese. I already ate vegetarian, and already resonate with Buddhism’s teachings of “letting go” (放下) and “going with the flow” (随缘). I already loved the colourful rituals, the calmness, the smell of incense in a temple—my first date with my fiancée was in a temple! Through books and videos, Buddhism taught me the importance of respect, of true happiness and of family values. Nothing could make me more Chinese than a Chinese moral education (and a Chinese wife), and I feel much happier and more stable as a result.

Anyway, it all started by eating vegetarian…

Eating Animals
Look closely at the lettering: feathers and fur are separated from leaves and roots by barbed wire. An accurate depiction both of factory farming and of the average American diet.

Convincing argument for a vegetarian diet.
341 pages, ★★★★★

Eating Animals is the argument for eating vegetarian. Author Johnathan Safran Foer is a vegetarian who argues not that we should stop eating meat, but that our methods of meat production are both cruel and unhealthy, and that the resulting diseases and environmental damage make factory factory meat production detrimental in so many respects.

    His argues for a return from factory farming to family farming in this book.

Johnathan Safran Foer uses lawyer-tactics to fight from health, moral and economic perspectives. His most poignant remark is about our children’s health, on page 112.

Why are entire flocks of industrial birds dying at once? And what about the people eating those birds? Just the other day, one of the local pediatricians was telling me he’s seeing all kinds of illnesses that he never used to see. Not only juvenile diabetes, but inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that a lot of the docs don’t even know what to call. And girls are going through puberty much earlier; and kids are allergic to just about everything, and asthma is out of control. Everyone knows it’s our foods… Kids today are the first generation to grow up on this stuff, and we’re making a science experiment out of them. Isn’t it strange how upset people get about few dozen baseball players taking growth hormones, when we’re doing what we’re doing to our food animals and feeding them to our children? — page 112.

The overwhelming stench of blood in the animal-houses makes (temporary, immigrant) farm-workers violently sadistic, resulting in widespread animal abuse (cutting animals’ legs off, chasing hogs into boiling water, penetrating orifices with electric cattle prods—for ‘fun’). Animals husbandry has been turned into animal abuse. Manure—traditionally a source of fertiliser—has been turned into toxic waste. The factory farm industry seems to be destroying animals, the environment, and its (temporary, immigrant) workers. Suicide rates in the industry are sky-high. I’m pleased to see that the New York Times agrees with Eating Animals’ thesis that factory farming should be stopped.

This book reaffirmed my strong conviction that a vegetarian diet is a healthier, cheaper, cleaner and more moral way to eat.

See these films if you’re hungry for more:

★★★★★

9 thoughts on “Book: Eating Animals

  1. I couldn’t agree more. One other thing I’ve noticed is that vegetarians tend to age better. I know several people in their 40s who have been long-term vegetarians and they look much younger than other people their age. Red meat especially packs on the pounds and does all sorts of things to your body.
    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your life in China!

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    1. There are so many advantages to a vegetarian diet, and I agree that looking younger is one of them. Come to think of it, with the abundance of vegetables we have available now, I can’t think of any advantages to eating meat at all…

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      1. That is indeed interesting. I honestly don’t see any advantages of eating meat. Not even one! “Taste” doesn’t count, because once you’re used to eating only vegetables, your palate becomes more sensitive to subtle flavours and the vegetables seem tastier than they do to a meat-eater! Are you vegetarian?

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      2. I wouldn’t qualify myself as one because I eat fish but I haven’t eaten meat for ten years. Many of my friends who were vegetarians ended up adding fish to their diet after several years.
        Having said that, I think if you know how to cook well vegetarian food is fantastic and you don’t need great lumps of muscle and flesh on your plate.
        I’ll be interested to hear how you get on in China. I would have thought that the country’s long Buddhist tradition would be a boon to a vegetarian in the country.

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