When Natalie Portman compared eating meat to rape in her Huffington Post account of how reading Eating Animals transformed her from a vegetarian to a staunch vegan, she may have been missing the point. The book, many agree, is less about shunning meat and more about shunning industrially farmed meat. In an A.V. Club interview with the author, Jonathan Safran Foer appeals to more carnivorous readers: “If you were to say to me, ‘Hey, I read your book. It really confused me. I went to the store, decided I didn’t want to buy crappy stuff, but instead went to the farmers’ market and bought meat from this farmer who showed me pictures of his farm, and he’s obviously a good guy,’ I would say, ‘That’s awesome.'”
He adds, “You know what’s really weird? And this is something that surprised me when I was doing my research. Real farmers — as in people who actually farm, not just workers for the huge factory-farm corporations, but like farmers as in the way we envision them in our minds, guys wearing overalls, interacting with animals, that kind of stuff — their values overlap 95 percent with activists at PETA. And a lot of these farmers are members of PETA. The kind of values that would lead one not to eat factory-farmed meat are precisely the same as the values that lead people to farm animals in the way that we did 75 or 80 years ago.”
Sort of like how the vegetarian author’s values and those of recovering vegetarian butcher Tom Mylan also manage to overlap.