15 Books That Will Make You Think Twice About Eating Meat

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15 Books That Will Turn You Vegetarian – or Even Vegan

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1. The Jungle

by Upton Sinclair

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Genres: Political Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Classic, Literature 

Goodreads Rating: 3.7

Year Published: 1906

Upton Sinclair’s dramatic and deeply moving story exposed the brutal conditions in the Chicago stockyards at the turn of the nineteenth century and brought into sharp moral focus the appalling odds against which immigrants and other working people struggled for their share of the American Dream. Denounced by the conservative press as an un-American libel on the meatpacking industry, and condemned for Sinclair’s unabashed promotion of Socialism and unionisation as a solution to the exploitation of workers, the book was championed by more progressive thinkers, including then President Theodore Roosevelt, and was a major catalyst to the passing of the Pure Food and Meat Inspection act, which has tremendous impact to this day.

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2. Eating Animals

by Jonathan Safran Foer

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Genres: Nonfiction, Food, Philosophy, Animals, Health

Goodreads Rating: 4.2

Date Published: October 31, 2009

Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill.
Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is a book that, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, places Jonathan Safran Foer “at the table with our greatest philosophers.

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3. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health

by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II

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Genres: Nonfiction, Health, Nutrition, Food, Science, Vegan 

Goodreads Rating: 4.2

Date Published: September 2001

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

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4. Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat)

by Moby and Miyun Park

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Genres: Nonfiction, Food, Vegan, Activism 

Goodreads Rating: 3.8

Year Published: 2010

An information-packed, lively, and informative little guide, Gristle is for the growing number of people – from meat-eaters to vegetarians – who are thinking twice about the perils of our system of animal processing and factory farms. Multiplatinum musician Moby and leading food policy activist and expert Miyun Park have brought together ten of the country’s leading voices on this issue – including foodies, policy makers, food business leaders, and food activists – who together eloquently lay out how and why the overconsumption of industrially produced meat unnecessarily harms agricultural workers, communities, the environment, and human health, as well as animals. Combining hard-hitting facts with a light touch – and with fascinating charts and illustrations depicting the stark realities of America’s industrial food system – Gristle is the first stop for everyone who wants to make informed choices about the food they consume.

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5. Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

by Matthew Scully

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Genres: Animals, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Vegan, Food

Goodreads Rating: 4.2

Date Published: September 30th, 2002

Throughout Dominion, Scully counters the hypocritical arguments that attempt to excuse animal abuse: from those who argue that the Bible’s message permits mankind to use animals as it pleases, to the hunter’s argument that through hunting animal populations are controlled, to the popular and “scientifically proven” notions that animals cannot feel pain, experience no emotions, and are not conscious of their own lives.

The result is eye opening, painful and infuriating, insightful and rewarding. Dominion is a plea for human benevolence and mercy, a scathing attack on those who would dismiss animal activists as mere sentimentalists, and a demand for reform from the government down to the individual. Matthew Scully has created a groundbreaking work, a book of lasting power and importance for all of us.

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6. My Year of Meats

by Ruth Ozeki

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Genres: Fiction, Food, Contemporary

Goodreads Rating: 3.9

Year Published: 1998

Hailed by USA Today as “rare and provocative” and awarded the Kirayama Prize for Literature of the Pacific Rim, My Year of Meatsis a modern-day take on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for fans of Michael Pollan, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver.

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7. Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

by Hal Herzog

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Genres: Nonfiction, Animals, Psychology, Science, Food, Philosophy, Nature, Sociology, Anthropology, Vegan

Goodreads Rating: 3.8

Year Published: 2010

A highly entertaining and illuminating journey through the full spectrum of human–animal relations, based on Dr. Herzog’s groundbreaking research on animal rights activists, cockfighters, professional dog-show handlers, veterinary students, and biomedical researchers. Blending anthropology, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy, Herzog carefully crafts a seamless narrative enriched with real-life anecdotes, scientific research, and his own sense of moral ambivalence.

Alternately poignant, challenging, and laugh-out-loud funny, this enlightening and provocative book will forever change the way we look at our relationships with other creatures and, ultimately, how we see ourselves.

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8. Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat

by Marta Zaraska

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Genres: Nonfiction, History, Food, Science, Vegan, Health, Cooking

Goodreads Rating: 4.0

Date Published: February 23rd, 2016

In this witty tour of our love affair with meat, Zaraska takes us to India’s unusual steakhouses, animal sacrifices at temples in Benin, and labs in the Netherlands that grow meat in petri dishess. From the power of advertising to the influence of the meat lobby, and from our genetic makeup to the traditions of our foremothers, she reveals the interplay of forces that keep us hooked on animal protein.

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9. How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

by Michael Greger and Gene Stone

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Genres: Health, Nonfiction, Nutrition, Food, Science, Vegan

Goodreads Rating: 4.5

Date Published: December 8th, 2015

In addition to showing what to eat to help treat the top fifteen causes of death, How Not to Die includes Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen – a checklist of the twelve foods we should consume every day. Full of practical, actionable advice and surprising, cutting edge nutritional science, these doctor’s orders are just what we need to live longer, healthier lives.

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10. Animals: A Novel

by Don LePan

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Genres: Fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Food

Goodreads Rating: 3.6

Year Published: 2009

Animals is set in an indeterminate future in which virtually all the species that humans have for millennia used as food have become extinct; the world this change creates is at once eerily foreign and disturbingly familiar. In the sharp-edged poignancy of the ethical questions it poses, in the strikingly innovative narrative techniques it employs, and above all, in the remarkable power of the story it tells, Animals is, quite simply, unique.

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11. Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! 

by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

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Genres: Nonfiction, Cookbooks, Health, Self-Help, Food, Chic Lit, Nutrition

Goodreads Rating: 3.4

Year Published: 2005

Authors Rory Freeman and Kim Barnouin are your new smart-mouthed girlfriends who won’t mince words and will finally tell you the truth about what you’re feeding yourself. And they’ll guide you on making intelligent and educated decisions about food.

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12. The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint

by Marc Bekoff

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Genres: Nonfiction, Animals, Science, Philosophy, Nature, Environment

Goodreads Rating: 4.0

Date Published: December 1st, 2009

In this inspirational call to action, Marc Bekoff, the world’s leading expert on animal emotions, gently shows that improving our treatment of animals is a matter of rethinking our many daily decisions and “expanding our compassion footprint.” He demonstrates that animals experience a rich range of emotions, including empathy and compassion, and that they clearly know right from wrong. Driven by moral imperatives and pressing environmental realities, Bekoff offers six compelling reasons for changing the way we treat animals — whether they’re in factory farms, labs, circuses, or our vanishing wilderness. The result is a well-researched, informative guide that will change animal and human lives for the better.

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13. Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals

by Gary L. Francione & Anna E. Charlton

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Genres: Nonfiction, Vegan, Philosophy, Animals, Food

Goodreads Rating: 4.2

Date Published: June 24th, 2013

Francione and Charlton argue that if you think animals matter morally—if you reject the idea that animals are just things—your own beliefs require that you stop eating animal products. There is nothing “extreme” about a vegan diet; what is extreme is the inconsistency between what we say we believe and how we act where animals are concerned.

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14. The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food

by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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Genres: Nonfiction, Food, Vegan, Animals, Health

Goodreads Rating: 3.8

Year Published: 2009

In this revelatory work, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson shows how food affects our moral selves, our health, and the environment. It raises questions to make us conscious of the decisions behind every bite we take: What effect does eating animals have on our land, waters, even global warming? What are the results of farming practices—debeaking chickens and separating calves from their mothers—on animals and humans? How does the health of animals affect the health of our planet and our bodies? And uniquely, as a psychoanalyst, Masson investigates how denial keeps us from recognizing the animal at the end of our fork—think pig, not bacon—and each food and those that are forbidden. The Face on intellectual, psychological, and emotional expertise over the last twenty years into the pivotal book of the food revolution.

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15. Animal Liberation

by Peter Singer

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Genres: Nonfiction, Philosophy, Food, Animals, Animal Rights, Vegan

Goodreads Rating: 4.2

Year Published: 1975

Since its original publication in 1975, this groundbreaking work has awakened millions of concerned men and women to the shocking abuse of animals everywhere — inspiring a worldwide movement to eliminate much of the cruel and unnecessary laboratory animal experimentation of years past.

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Please comment below and let us know what books have changed your mind about the way you eat!

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2 Comments

  1. Don LePan

    Thanks for including my Animals: A Novel on this list. Interestingly, the experience of writing that book helped to persuade me to change my ways. I thought when I was writing it that it was a book directed towards turning humans away from factory farmed meat–but I now believe it’s really more directed towards encouraging people to adopt a whole-foods, plant based diet. I’ve been vegan now since 2011, and i can;t imagine going back. (That said, I have a _lot_ of sympathy for people who may be slow to move on that direction, even at all; it took me at least ten years to even start to change after I first read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and began to think maybe I _should_ start changing my behavior diet-wise.

    Singer’s classic book, incidentally, absolutely deserves a place on this list.

    1. miabonardi

      Hi Don, thank you so much for your comment! I have been vegan for over 7 years now and I can never imagine going back either. Thank you for recommending that I add Singer’s book to the list! It is now added 🙂

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