by ecorazzicontributor
Categories: Eats, People, Print
Tags: , , .

Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have chosen Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals as the official summer-reading selection for 2011.

This past week, a selection committee consisting of faculty, staff, and students, chose the vegan author’s book—which discusses Foer’s struggle with and commitment to vegetarianism—out of six finalists.

Duke and UNC often work together on initiatives that support both campuses and, to that end, have merged their summer-reading program for 2011. The initiative chooses one book for incoming freshmen to read the summer before entering their respective universities.

“Any student reading this book will look at the research that the author did and realize that that’s what they should think about doing for all the big decisions in their lives,” says UNC summer-school dean Jan Yopp, who also served as a selection-committee chairwoman.

Duke senior Priya Bhat tells Duke News that, for her, Foer’s book is “not just a book about food. It’s a book about being really active in making your own decisions.”

Making decisions on your own? Sounds like the perfect choice for very green freshmen. (And we do mean “green” in both senses of the word.)


  • Loren Hart

    This is SO exciting!! Thanks so much for sharing this great news, Ecorazzi!

    I’d like to add a couple details:

    “Duke’s freshman class contains over 1600 students, while UNC’s incoming freshmen class is about 4000 students,” and “The author will be delivering presentations at both campuses this fall” (

    The UNC newspaper reported on this story at The paper’s editorial board also published a dismissive critique of the choice in their Quick Hits section saying, “Eating Animals: It’s about the origin of our food. Yeah, we get it — animal cruelty, caged birds, inhumane practices. But there must be more pressing concerns for N.C.’s future leaders than the decision between meat and tofu” (

    Obviously, we have more work to do.

    Luckily, we’ve also been hearing many positive comments, like this one from Duke University Associate Dean Todd Adams: “Foer—a talented and celebrated author—had the formidable task of making us think about our choices around food without sounding preachy. The book gives light to the culture that exists around the food we produce and eat, and it raises difficult, yet relevant questions that everyone should consider in examining their own relationship with food” (

    As a UNC alum who remains involved on campus, I’m absolutely elated that Eating Animals will be read and discussed by so many in our area as a result of this decision. It is a very moving book, and I expect its selection will have a major impact.

    For more details about this news, check out this link from peta2 (, which also includes a great two-minute video clip of the book’s author explaining why he thinks eating meat will gradually fall out of fashion. And here’s a brief summary of the book’s main points (, provided by Sojourners magazine. This video interview from the Ellen Show is also totally worth watching (

    The change is happening.

  • Karina

    This needs to be happening in all schools.

  • Amber

    YES! This is amazing! This needs to happen at more schools!

  • km

    Terrific. I know not every AR activist likes him but he’s intelligent and writes great books. He has the ability to reach the masses and not just preach to the choir. There are other books out there which may address similar subjects but many of those authors don’t have the same respect in the literary and academic world to ever get to be put on a list like this. I’m not diminishing those other authors. It is just that way it is.

  • Loren Hart

    UPDATE: Today, the UNC newspaper published a letter ( that is supportive of the selection of ‘Eating Animals’ for the UNC and Duke summer reading programs. The letter is also critical of the newspaper’s editorial board for it’s earlier dismissive comments ( in regards to the book, and also to the consequences of our food choices.

    In the letter, student Jonathan Tarleton writes: “Sadly, the Editorial Board demonstrated its lack of familiarity with the book while showing their complete shortsightedness — the connection between what we eat and arguably every major problem the future leaders of North Carolina will face in our local communities, state, and world is incredibly strong and notable.”

    You can read the whole letter at