Eating Lassie? Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals" Gives Us Lots to Digest

Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals" is one of my favorite food books ever. I don't agree with everything it says, but the book is so incredibly compelling, the arguments so well reasoned, and the descriptions so very vivid, that I recommend it to anyone who is thinking seriously about our food and where it comes from.

Early in the book, Safran Foer takes great pains to describe why we should be eating dogs. He even goes so far as to provide a "classic Filipino" recipe. Here's a small excerpt:

[...] unlike all farmed meat, which requires the creation and maintenance of animals, dogs are practically begging to be eaten. Three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized annually. This amounts to millions of pounds of meat now being thrown away every year. The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. It would be demented to yank pets from homes. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too [...]

Dogs are plentiful, good for you, easy to cook, and tasty, and eating them is vastly more reasonable than going through all the trouble of processsing them into protein bits to become the food for the other species that becomes our food.

But Safran Foer is no monster, just a smart fella making a case for vegetarianism. He rounds out his discussion of eating dogs with this:

Thinking about dogs, and their relationship to the animals we eat, is one way of looking askance and making something invisible visible.

An avowed vegetarian, the author makes the case that - if we're going to eat any meat at all - we should be eating dogs, which are well-treated, plentiful, healthy, and delicious. And if the idea of eating dogs appalls us (which he hopes it will), then the idea of eating pigs, or cows, or chickens, or fish - which our industrial food system tortures, poisons, and abuses - should appall us even more.

I've heard more and more people use this line of reasoning lately (Alicia Silverstone could be heard talking about eating dogs on Oprah recently!), and I find it compelling. Not compelling enough to start eating dogs, you may be glad to know, but compelling enough to reconsider my views on even humanely raised animals.

In the words of Safran Foer:

Pigs are every bit as intelligent and feeling [as dogs], by any sensible definition of the words [...] So why don't they get to curl up by the fire? Why can't they at least be spared being tossed on the fire?

Good question, worth considering.