I’ve been pescovegetarian for the past four years and after reading Eating Animals, I’ve decided to give up fish and become actually vegetarian. Though the book was a bit overwraught at points, it made me care (in my heart not my head) about animal welfare and species preservation more acutely than I ever had before. My previous eating choices were only ethically motivated insofar as I think it is ethically necessary to take charge of ones health and to make sacrifices for the environment. My decision to forgo meat was only occasionally motivated by emotional responses to animal oppression.
The other day I read an interview of Breeze Harper of Sistah Vegan, in which she was asked how the legacies of colonialism manifest themselves in mainstream dialogues and attitudes about what we eat. In her response she mentioned that the most prominent dialogues about veganism, vegetarianism and mindful consumption come from an almost exclusively white perspective that assumes unfettered access to whatever foods one decides are best. In particular she cites Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and Rory Freedman’s Skinny Bitch. I’ve read both of these books. I found Pollan’s to be fascinating from a culinary and scientific standpoint, and an engaging piece of writing. Skinny Bitch temporarily succeeded in making me want to loose a bit of weight, but in general the tone was so condescending and the content so narrowly focused on body issues that I do not include it as a text that has informed my decisions. (Though I suspect it has had more lasting impact on other women who might not have been politically or ethically motivated to choose veganism or vegetarianism)
Foer’s “Eating Animals” strikes me as quite different from the standard white-centric veg. literature. While the expose parts of the book alone may dissuade some from eating meat, I think its greatest strength is that it highlights the intense personal connections we have between our food and our heritage, and also to the animal world. I would love to hear if veg people of color find Foer’s book more approachable and less myopic in its view than other veggie texts. By advocating each of us to consciously choose the stories we tell about our food, and while eating it, does Foer create more room for diversity within the veggie culture?
I recognize that Foer doesn’t adequately address the issues of food accessibility and options that often preclude underserved individuals from seeing veggie lifestyles as a viable option. But, in terms of the motivations he provides, does it seem correct to say that this book has the potential to compel a greater variety of people to choose, or at least to consider, a vegetarian lifestyle by pandering to the more empathetic side of our shared humanity?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!