Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, "Eating Animals," is an eloquent exploration of something most sentient humans think about at some point in their lives: Just what exactly am I eating? Or more to the point, "Just who exactly am I eating?" Foer has written an excellent, serious and earnest book, and I spoke to him about his conclusions recently. What follows is an edited version of our conversation.
Jeffrey Goldberg: It seems, from reading "Eating Animals," that you want people to adopt vegetarianism, but you don't actually say, "I've presented you with evidence that makes it morally impossible for you to eat meat." Why don't you go all the way?
Jonathan Safran Foer: I don't know that I would put it quite like you just did. I was really moved, I have to say, by some of the small farms that I went to. I would say that the goodness of good farmers might have surprised me more than the badness of bad farmers. Maybe that's just because I had more exposure to what factory farming was. But I went to farms where animals were treated better than I treat my dog, and it would just be impossible to try to honestly argue that they don't have good lives. So of course, they're killed in the end, but our lives are destined for death also. We're not getting killed, but there are slaughterhouses that kill these animals in ways that they don't anticipate death or feel it. So to argue against such farms, you have to get into a sort of philosophical terrain that I don't get into into. I don't know what my own feelings about it are.