I picked up Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest book, because I had read, and desperately loved, his first two novels. I assumed this third book would also be a novel?it isn’t. Instead of writing a complex, rich, dynamic, and novel novel, Foer has written a complex, rich, and dynamic case for vegetarianism.
I have never before considered vegetarianism in a serious way for a variety of reasons, the most outstanding being my distaste for vegetarians. It seems that vegetarians want to seem different, like they’re the one fish that swims against the current while the rest take the easy ride with the current. Automatically, I assume that vegetarians aren’t so genuine because of this image I have of them, and there is nothing more anathema to me than the insincere.
As of now, I’m 60 pages into Eating Animals and already I’ve put considerable thought into becoming a vegetarian. My first reaction this thought was?impossible! How could I not eat meat? An image of a hamburger patty appeared in my mind’s eye?no bun or toppings, just the meat?and I couldn’t fathom saying no to it. Yes Foer makes an excellent levelheaded case for vegetarianism, one that extends far beyond I like animals, they’re my friends, but how could I logistically handle a no meat diet? Meat is everywhere; it seems inescapable.
Upon further thought (on my way to the bathroom where inspiration often strikes me midstream) I came across an old memory. For most of my life, up until college, I watched an inordinate amount of television. At one point, when I was about 14 or 15, I tried to imagine my life without TV?I couldn’t. A life without TV would have been no life at all. But here I am now, a non-TV watcher. It wasn’t a deliberate decision on my part to not watch TV, I just had less free time on my hands and consequently, less motivation to watch any of the shows I used to watch. A prospect so unfathomable and even frightening to me a few years prior, has become a reality. And really, the issue is insignificant in the greater scheme of my life.
In the chapter in Eating Animals entitled “Meaning/Words,” under the heading “Comfort Food,” Foer lists a series of foods he enjoys eating. Each item on the list was a food that I eat or would eat. Surprisingly, they don’t fall under my stereotypical category of vegetarian dishes (i.e. health food, ew). Maybe not eating eat can be quite doable, probably even more so than I think.
Besides not minding vegetarian food, I really don’t like meat that much, which is ironic considering I eat it all the time. I only like to eat specific meat in certain contexts. For example, I like: hamburgers, ground beef in recipes, but not steak; chicken nuggets but not chicken wings. Considering I don’t eat the majority of meat there is to eat in America, it shouldn’t be too hard to give up the small percentage I currently do eat. And besides, my favorite kinds of food are all starches and fruits, which aren’t meat!
Now I know that a vegetarian me is possible, but I want to explore the idea more before I make any lifestyle changes. By explore the idea I mean that I will finish reading Eating Animals (hopefully in a timely fashion). It probably isn’t good practice to base an ethical decision on the opinion and reasoning of one individual. However, I highly regard this individual (Foer) as an excellent specimen of humankind whose words I treasure and whose opinions I trust. The last page of Eating Animals shall be my deadline and by the conclusion of the book, I will come to a decision. To go vegetarian or not go vegetarian, that is the question.
Sidenote? Preface? I’m not trying to convince anyone to become vegetarian. This is a personal account of my mental process, not a didactic tract. That’s why I won’t be including specific facts or statistics here to support my conclusions. If you want to know them, read Eating Animals or look them up.