Food for the Thoughtful

21 Oct

Eatng Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer


In this essay for The Times Magazine (adapted from his new non-fiction book, Eating Animals, out in November) Jonathan Safran Foer writes about his decision(s) to go veg, from misguided high-school attempts to renewed efforts upon the birth of his first son. 

He manages to make absolutely everything sound kind of sad and kind of dreamy:

In the meantime, my choice on their behalf means they will never eat their great-grandmother’s singular dish. They will never receive that unique and most direct expression of her love, will perhaps never think of her as the greatest chef who ever lived. Her primal story, our family’s primal story, will have to change.


Some of my happiest childhood memories are of sushi “lunch dates” with my mom, and eating my dad’s turkey burgers with mustard and grilled onions at backyard celebrations, and of course my grandmother’s chicken with carrots. Those occasions simply wouldn’t have been the same without those foods — and that is important. To give up the taste of sushi, turkey or chicken is a loss that extends beyond giving up a pleasurable eating experience. Changing what we eat and letting tastes fade from memory create a kind of cultural loss, a forgetting. But perhaps this kind of forgetfulness is worth accepting — even worth cultivating (forgetting, too, can be cultivated). To remember my values, I need to lose certain tastes and find other handles for the memories that they once helped me carry.

Wowza. I would have just said something like, “But what about Taco Tuesdays?”


2 Responses to “Food for the Thoughtful”

  1. LisaG October 21, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    Although I’m a little biased, I don’t think going vegetarian is necessarily a more ethical choice. There is some agricultural land that is better suited to grazing livestock than growing crops, especially in Alberta and north-central Saskatchewan. Some animals are fed crop by-products and forage rather than grain that could be fed people.

    However, this sounds like a thoughtful book, so gotta give him props for that.

  2. Lija October 27, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    I’m actually not a vegetarian myself, and I agree that it’s a pretty different situation back home. But I really like the way that he spins the whole thing into a story.

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