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Review: Eating Animals

As someone who does not eat animals, this documentary is preaching to the choir. I hope that non-vegetarians will seek the film out because Eating Animals presents a clear-headed depiction of the horrors of modern meat production.

Narrated by Natalie Portman, the film is structured around individual stories, mostly from animal farmers who have reached a breaking point. The film utilizes many personal accounts to deliver a clear message, the current state of factory farming and meat consumption is inhumane on many levels and is harming our environment at an alarming rate. Farmers discuss their approaches to farming, wanting to return to an old style that respects the land and animals. This is in stark contrast to factory farming done by Tyson or Perdue, who pack as many animals they can into cramped spaces and inject them with hormones and antibiotics so they grow huge and can survive the horrible conditions. The film routinely contrasts images of turkeys running around a farm, flying into trees and generally looking alive with those of cows and pigs being prodded with forklifts into cages because their feet won't support their weight. The images speak volumes but so do the personal accounts of the farmer's trauma from having to work in this industry.

I am sure people will call the film propaganda, accusing it of sensationalizing the horrors of factory farming conditions. I did not feel this watching the film and was often surprised at how the film let the farmer's advocate for a return to traditional farming. This is not a film that seeks to make everyone a vegan but instead wants to change the current industry. The film's segments on the horrible environmental effects of factory farming are clear-eyed and fact-based. To further quiet naysayers, the film explores the "ag-gag" legislation that prevents citizens from exposing the conditions of these factories.

Based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals presents a wide-screen look at the current way we get meat. It advocates that people remember that they vote on this topic three times a day. It does this by asking for discernment. The film educates you to what factory farming does to animals. It shows you the environmental concerns. It depicts the ways in which this type of farming pits neighbors against each other and tears apart communities. The film takes time to discuss the superbugs that are coming out of these factories, even alluding to an epidemic. Eating Animals avoids a one-note argument, such as animals are cute so don't eat them, by spreading its focus across the many related topics to this.

I urge everyone to seek this film out. There is no debating that factory farming is unhealthy for people and animals alike but the film empowers viewers to go a step further. While it pushes an awareness, it never feels like its agenda is black and white. The film shows us farming done right and shows how we can eat animals responsibly. However, it may take large numbers of people changing the way they eat to get there.



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