It’s fair to say that no vegetarian-oriented book has ever received as much exposure as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals has received this past week. Since Friday, the book was reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, and both Salon.com and Long Island Newsday published interviews with Foer.
Everything I’ve just linked to is well worth reading. The Chronicle and Times pieces both stand out as being written by reviewers who cared enough to seriously engage the topic.
And the Salon.com interview is likewise great. Here’s Foer explaining why he wrote the book:
There are a lot of things I care about, but great people are writing about them. And there hasn’t really been a mainstream book about meat, despite the fact that it’s everything. I mean, if it isn’t the biggest, most important issue in our country right now, it’s up there.
His comments about Pollan and Schlosser nail the shortcomings of their books without being dickish:
See, Pollan is wonderful, but he doesn’t really get into meat too deeply; he sort of goes up to the edge of it and then stops. The same with Schlosser.
There’s not a reader of this interview who will say it’s right to make animals suffer unnecessarily. So then it becomes a question of what is suffering to different people and what is necessary to different people. And people can have all kinds of different, very respectable differences of opinion on this question, but I’ve spoken to my grandmother about why this might be wrong and she doesn’t disagree. It’s sad. She said in a very upfront way, “I don’t think about it, I’m not going to think about it.” For someone like my grandmother — frankly, for a lot of people — I don’t really push it. I think for people who are still forming their habits, like high school students or college students, that kind of willed ignorance is lame at best and something much worse because they’re most able to change. They’re the ones who are ultimately going to have to foot the bill of factory farming and are more required to do the uncomfortable thinking that a 90-year-old doesn’t.
As I write this, Eating Animals is ranked #33
on Amazon.com. It’s guaranteed that the book will sell hundreds of thousands of copies. The critical opportunity here is that the veggie movement has a brief window of time to help this book explode as a million-seller. What have you done to get the word out? This is what Twitter accounts and Facebook walls were made for.