I'm not exactly the target audience of this book, although it is those in my group that would be most likely to read it. I'm a long-time moral/ethical vegan and have long known the factoids contained in the book. I did, however, want to read the book to know what Foer was offering to the mainstream audience he may have caused to pick the book up, and what exactly his message was.
While Foer does not organize his message in an A to B format (he is a bit all over the place), his main message is clear. The book essentially revolves around the horrors of factory farming and their immense impact on the world and the non-human (some human) animals involved. 99 percent of non-human animals raised to be consumed are raised in these facilities and yet the ideal farm landscape is what is constantly projected to the masses. See those cheese/milk/beef commercials? To call them simply a lie is to say the BP oil spill in 2010 was a little leak.
I appreciate that Foer went through the efforts to obtain this information (although the majority of it, excluding the one-on-one interviews, all of it can be found online in places few look--animal rights organizations/vegan websites). I also appreciate that his previous books and publishing popularity allowed the topic to reach a much larger group than it would have otherwise. Whether or not people will change their way of eating after reading the book is the question, although I doubt a large percentage will change anything. People are too good at pushing under the figurative rug anything that bothers them on some level like the information in Eating Animals.
I am one which believes Foer did not go far enough. Perhaps he was trying to illuminate but not push away people likely to be turned off by it. But I'm one that wants it all out on the table. Foer, despite being committed to vegetarianism after his research apparently, portrays an individual believing that it is ok to eat meat, use animals etc. if they are treated "humanely" during the process. It seems to go in complete contrast to the information contained within, even his own opinions at times. But I simply cannot agree. I agree with Foer's grandmother when she says "If nothing matters, there's nothing to save." She says this after Foer asks her why she refused pork from a farmer, food that could save her life when she was starving. The meat wasn't kosher so she refused it. This is how I feel about all animal products. If nothing matters, there's nothing to save. Which is why Foer's comments about there being circumstances under which he would consume meat or even eat a dog (despite speaking highly of his own) rub me the wrong way.
Foer also brings up the pressures of being vegetarian (he should try being vegan!) when in a social or family meal setting. He never really elucidates much on topic so it fell rather flat for me. (I did, however, agree with his views on Thanksgiving and how turkeys do not need come into the picture.) I understand some may feel social pressures to not become veg but for me it was never an issue. Why do I care if someone thinks I'm crazy/ridiculous/extreme (you name it) when I am adhering to my moral beliefs? Is this really a good reason to not go veg, even if you believe it to be right? Why are so many people lacking courage.
One of Foer's quotes did resonate with me, however. In words not quite as elegant I have spoken of the topic myself, generally to deaf/ignorant ears."Not responding is a response--we are equally responsible for what we don't do. In the case of animal slaughter, to throw your hands in the air is to wrap your fingers around a knife handle."
Well said Foer.