2011 Summer Reading Discussion Questions

Summer Reading Questions for Reflection

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals
Questions for Reflection

(some adapted from the publisher’s reading group guide, available at www.hachettebookgroup.com)

Among your friends and family, are most people vegetarians, vegans, or omnivores? Why do you think they follow this eating style?

Does your family have any honored traditions that involve meals or a particular food? Describe them.

What are some of the challenges of being a vegan or a vegetarian?

Does where you live matter? To what extent do you think economics play into the decision of eating responsibly or of supporting local farms?

Foer’s relationship with eating is grounded in his memories of meals shared with his grandmother and the stories she told about food. Even when she was on the run from Nazis and starving, she would not eat pork. How do faith and cultural traditions influence food choice?

Based on your reading of Foer’s book, who benefits economically from industrial animal production?

Foer devotes a huge amount of intellectual energy, time, and resources to researching the issues around factory farming. Does factory farming concern you? Why or why not?

How does eating animals contribute to nutrition and prevention or causation of disease?

Do you think nomadic humans could have survived as vegetarians before the development of agriculture and permanent settlements?

How does industrial animal production affect air and water pollution?

Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma, or a difficult decision that challenged your idea of who you are? How did you solve it? Where or from whom did you seek advice?

How do you reconcile your values with the realities of living within our food culture?

Foer began to seriously explore the issues in this book when he was expecting his first child. As you prepare to come to UNC and begin a new phase of your life, are there habits or practices of your own that you intend to scrutinize or change? Why or why not?