Why? First of all, I'm a big fangirl and loved Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. On my nightstand is The Future Dictionary of America, which Foer contributed to. I also got the chance to hear Foer speak at the AWP Conference back in 2008, and I liked what I heard. Secondly, one of my New Years' Resolutions was to give up meat. I go through this battle with myself pretty much constantly - it really does weigh on my conscience, my environmental sense of responsibility, my notions of caloric intake, and even my wallet sometimes. I slip up, I regret it, I stop eating meat again... and repeat.
So when I started reading this last night, I immediately got all defensive. Why? He was on my side after all. Foer talks about his own struggle with not eating meat, addressing all of the things I can relate to: a fear of "public hypocrisy" when you slip up, wanting to create an individual identity (although a lesser motivator, it is still there), ignoring the questions in your head about the morality of eating meat while you're doing it, etc.
Perhaps it was one thing he said that stuck with me:
Almost always, when I told someone I was writing a book about "eating animals," they assumed, even without knowing anything about my views, that it was a case for vegetarianism. It's a telling assumption, one that implies not only that a thorough inquiry into animal agriculture would lead one away from eating meat, but that most people already know that to be the case.
To paraphrase: "am I right, or am I right?" Or, Foer seems to be saying that the only logical analysis of what's going on with industrial farming is that it's bad, and logically, any research on the topic must inherently be a case for vegetarianism.
I felt like I was being duped. I assumed this book to be a case for vegetarianism because of the title. I mean, Foer couldn't possibly have overlooked the logical explanation of diction, right? The book is called Eating ANIMALS. Last I checked, we don't eat animals; we eat meat. We don't eat cow, we eat beef; it's not pig, it's pork; it's not chicken, it's... well, ok, chicken = same.
At the outset, I thought his simple word choice of "animals" for "meat" in the title was brilliant, because it implied so much. We love animals; we love to eat meat. We love to keep the two seperate. So by choosing that title, it seemed he was aiming to break down the construct that animals and meat are not one in the same.
I'm going to try really hard to withhold judgment until I see exactly where Foer's going with this book. But for now, I'm kinda prickly about it.