The Faults of Meat by Geoffrey Barstow
  • Title: The Faults of Meat
  • Subtitle: Tibetan Buddhist Writings on Vegetarianism
  • Author(s): Geoffrey Barstow
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster
  • Year: 2019-10-01
  • ISBN-10: 1614295050
  • ISBN-13: 9781614295051


The Faults of Meat” by Geoffrey Barstow is an intriguing and thought-provoking exploration of the modern meat industry and its ethical implications. Barstow meticulously examines the various aspects of meat consumption, including factory farming practices, animal welfare concerns, and the environmental impact of meat production. Through extensive research and personal interviews, he dives into the unsettling realities of the meat industry, shedding light on issues often kept hidden from public view.

Rather than simply providing a critique, Barstow offers a balanced perspective, acknowledging the cultural, economic, and dietary importance of meat while raising important questions about our current practices. With a clear and engaging writing style, he presents scientific data and historical context to challenge readers to reconsider their own choices and attitudes towards meat consumption. “The Faults of Meat” is a compelling and eye-opening book that serves as a wake-up call for those interested in the future of food and the ethical responsibilities we bear as consumers.


Book Review

An Eye-Opening Revelation: "The Faults of Meat" by Geoffrey Barstow

In his meticulously researched and thought-provoking book, “The Faults of Meat,” author Geoffrey Barstow delves into the many complex and often uncomfortable aspects of the modern meat industry. Throughout the book, Barstow takes readers on a journey through factory farming practices, animal welfare concerns, and the environmental impact of meat production, amongst other vital issues. With an empathetic yet critical lens, he raises questions about our current practices while shedding light on the hidden realities of a system that demands closer examination.

One of the strengths of “The Faults of Meat” is Barstow’s ability to present a balanced perspective. He acknowledges the cultural and economic importance of meat in our society, while simultaneously highlighting the ethical and environmental implications. Rather than simply pointing fingers, Barstow encourages readers to reflect on their own choices and attitudes towards meat consumption, making the book accessible to readers from various backgrounds.

Throughout the book, Barstow supports his arguments with powerful examples and research. For instance, he unveils the grim conditions of factory farming, where animals are confined in crowded, unsanitary spaces that are far removed from their natural habitats. In vivid detail, Barstow describes the physical and psychological suffering endured by these animals, such as overcrowding, the use of antibiotics to prevent disease outbreaks, and the painful procedures they endure without any anesthesia.

Moreover, Barstow examines the role of the meat industry in climate change and environmental degradation. He highlights the significant carbon footprint of livestock farming, which surpasses that of the transportation sector. Barstow cites a study that estimates how much deforestation is tied to the demand for meat, emphasizing the environmental toll often overlooked by consumers. These alarming facts serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for sustainable practices and a more conscious approach to meat consumption.

Additionally, Barstow’s personal interviews with individuals involved in various aspects of the meat industry provide a human touch to his exploration. These insightful conversations offer diverse perspectives, allowing readers to better understand the interconnectedness between those who produce, distribute, and consume meat. By including these firsthand accounts, Barstow bridges the gap between theory and reality, grounding his arguments in the experiences and emotions of those involved in the industry.

The writing style of “The Faults of Meat” contributes to its accessibility and engagement. Barstow presents scientific data and historical context in a clear and concise manner, making it easier for readers to comprehend the complexities of the meat industry. His prose is both informative and conversational, making the potentially dense and controversial subject matter approachable even to readers who may be less familiar with the topic.

If there is one area where “The Faults of Meat” could have further improved, it is in exploring viable alternatives to conventional meat consumption. While Barstow briefly mentions plant-based diets and cultured meat as potential solutions, a more in-depth examination of these alternatives would have added further depth to his argumentation. This, however, does not detract from the overall impact of the book, as Barstow’s primary objective is to raise awareness and challenge long-held beliefs rather than to provide a comprehensive guide to alternative dietary choices.

In conclusion, “The Faults of Meat” is a powerful and eye-opening book that sheds light on the often unacknowledged realities of the meat industry. Geoffrey Barstow masterfully combines research, personal interviews, and eloquent storytelling to present an in-depth examination of the ethical, environmental, and health concerns surrounding meat consumption. Through his balanced approach, “The Faults of Meat” encourages readers to question their own choices and helps pave the way for a more sustainable and compassionate future.


Meat isn't just protein; it's a complex story with hidden costs. 'The Faults of Meat' explores the ethical, environmental, and health implications of our carnivorous habits, empowering you to make informed choices for a healthier planet and yourself.

Key Ideas

In “The Faults of Meat,” Geoffrey Barstow delves into several key ideas surrounding the modern meat industry:

  1. Factory farming and animal welfare Barstow exposes the grim reality of factory farming, emphasizing the detrimental conditions and suffering experienced by animals kept in confined spaces. He raises awareness about issues such as overcrowding, the use of antibiotics, and painful procedures performed on animals, highlighting the urgent need for improved animal welfare practices.

  2. Environmental impact Barstow highlights the significant environmental impact of meat production, particularly in relation to climate change and deforestation. He emphasizes the high carbon footprint of livestock farming and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the correlation between meat consumption and deforestation, which exacerbates environmental degradation.

  3. Ethical considerations The book prompts readers to consider the ethical implications of their choices in meat consumption. Barstow challenges the notion of animals as mere commodities, raising questions about the ethics of using animals for human consumption and the implications of treating them as objects devoid of inherent value.

  4. Cultural and societal influences Barstow acknowledges the cultural, economic, and dietary significance of meat in society. He examines the deep-rooted traditions and social norms that surround meat consumption, recognizing the challenges faced in altering long-standing attitudes and behaviors related to our diet.

  5. The importance of consumer awareness and responsibility Barstow urges readers to be mindful consumers, empowering them to make informed choices about their meat consumption. He emphasizes the need for consumers to understand the complexities of the meat industry, consider alternative dietary choices, and support more sustainable and humane practices.

  6. The potential for change Despite the daunting challenges, Barstow offers glimpses of hope by exploring potential solutions and alternatives to the conventional meat industry. He briefly discusses emerging technologies such as cultured meat and the growing popularity of plant-based diets, suggesting that these alternatives hold promise in addressing the ethical and environmental concerns associated with traditional meat production.

Overall, “The Faults of Meat” provides a comprehensive examination of the meat industry, inviting readers to critically evaluate their own perspectives and choices, and advocating for a more compassionate, sustainable, and ethical approach to meat consumption.


Target Audience

The book “The Faults of Meat” by Geoffrey Barstow is targeted at a diverse audience interested in the ethical, environmental, and societal aspects of meat consumption. The book is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Ethical and Environmental Activists For individuals who are concerned about animal welfare and the environmental impact of meat production, “The Faults of Meat” offers a comprehensive examination of the faults and shortcomings of the meat industry. It provides valuable insights and information to support their advocacy efforts and deepen their understanding of the issues at hand.

  • Health-conscious Individuals Readers interested in nutrition, health, and dietary choices will find the book thought-provoking. Barstow explores the health implications of meat consumption, discussing topics such as antibiotic resistance, the potential risks associated with processed meats, and the benefits of a plant-based diet. The book can serve as a resource for those looking to make informed decisions about their personal health and well-being.

  • Environmentalists and Sustainability Advocates With its focus on the environmental impact of the meat industry, “The Faults of Meat” is highly recommended for individuals passionate about sustainability and combating climate change. Barstow’s research and analysis provide a compelling case for reducing meat consumption or adopting more sustainable practices, making it a valuable resource for those seeking information and inspiration in this area.

  • Societal and Cultural Critics The book examines the cultural and societal influences that shape our perspectives on meat consumption. It challenges long-standing traditions and social norms, encouraging readers to question the ideologies surrounding our food choices and consider the broader implications on our society and future generations.

In conclusion, “The Faults of Meat” is recommended reading for a wide range of audiences, including ethical and environmental activists, health-conscious individuals, sustainability advocates, and societal and cultural critics. Barstow’s exploration of the meat industry provides invaluable insights and information that can inform and inspire readers to make more conscious and responsible choices regarding their meat consumption. The book serves as a powerful resource for those interested in understanding the ethical, environmental, and societal implications of our food systems.

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