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Posted on April 17th, 2014, by

The author of Eating Animals, J.S. Foer is a proponent of animal rights and animal welfare and his book is the evidence of his position. There is definitely nothing wrong with his position but Foer attempts to impose his opinion to the audience using his book as the tool to reach the audience and to change the attitude of people to eating animals. His main argument concerns unbearable conditions created by the contemporary farming and food industry for animals and dehumanizing attitude to animals in farms and food industry. The author draws plenty examples and facts to uncover the appalling conditions which make the life of animals unbearable, while their death is often dehumanizing since, as the author argues, in many instances, animals are bled, dismembered and skinned while conscious. Nevertheless, Foer’s arguments refer mainly to emotions of the audience, while the references of the author to reason are one-sided and inconsistent that makes his arguments ineffective, when viewed critically.

Foer refers to his personal experience and to his family history to show how people exaggerate the significance of food making a cult of it. Such use of ethos may be effective but the author definitely stands on the vegetarian ground as he does not attempt to evaluate the contemporary farming and food industry critically. For instance, he recalls the experience of his grandmother, who survived Holocaust and had the lifelong obsession over food. In this regard, Foer argues that people should free themselves of the food obsession and become aware of sufferings of animals just like he did in the course of three years study of conditions of raising animals and their processing by the food industry.

In fact, the author could consider the alternative view on farming and food industry. He basically stands on the ground of a middle class representative, who considers whether to eat meat or not, while he could have considered farming and food industry from a standpoint of people living in poverty who would have considered whether to eat or not, if they refused from eating cheap meat and other animal products of the contemporary industrial farming and food industry.

The author mainly appeals to emotions of the audience. Such extensive use of pathos is effective as long as the audience fails to evaluate critically Foer’s argument. He depicts sufferings of animals which seem to be pointless and cruel. At the same time, he steadily leads the audience to the idea that the only reason for such sufferings and slaughtering of animals is food habits of people, who are accustomed to eat meat and other food containing animal ingredients. In fact, his appeal to emotions is very strong since, perceiving the book emotionally, the audience can hardly disagree with the author. The most emotional part of the audience is likely to stop eating animals, unless readers refers to reason and start evaluating the content of the book critically.

In fact, Foer definitely fails to use logos effectively since facts he refers to are one-sided. For instance, the author refers to the experience of Indonesian shrimp trawlers, who kill 26 pounds of sea creatures for every 1 pound of shrimp they collect. Or else, Foer argues that 98% of American chicken is infected with salmonella and some other dangerous bacteria. However, such a view is superficial since bacteria found in American poultry are not dangerous for humans, if the poultry is cooked properly, while the elimination of all bacteria is not always possible. In addition, the further processing of poultry, for instance, will make the meat useless from nutritionist point of view.

At the same time, the only alternative Foer implies but never names directly is the refusal from meat and other food containing animal ingredients. However, Foer does not only fails to name this alternative but he also fails to analyze consequences of following such alternative way of nutrition. If he did, he would understand that people cannot maintain their health without consuming animal proteins, which cannot be replaced by any plant proteins. Moreover, ironically, Foer points out at the beginning of his book that he does not intend to turn readers into vegetarians but all his book implicitly leads readers to the decision to refuse from eating animals and save them from sufferings and slaughter.

Thus, Foer attempted to create the book that uncovers the cruelty of the contemporary farming and food industry through the depiction of unbearable conditions, which animals are raised and slaughtered in. His arguments are strong emotionally since the author manages to draw facts and use eloquent language to depict animals’ sufferings. On the other hand, the author fails to evaluate the problem of animal eating critically. He does not analyze the contemporary farming and food industry offering cheap meat and other products to feed the poor, for instance. In such a way, the book is emotionally colored but the book is weak in terms of logic and objective analysis.



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