Sonia Faruqi’s Project Animal Farm: An Accidental Journey into the Secret World of Farming and the Truth About Our Food boasts a five star rating on both Amazon (where it is also the number one new release) and Barnes & Noble. The author studied at Dartmouth College before working on Wall Street, but she realized her true passion after volunteering at a dairy farm.
Faruqi’s first book “promises to entertain and enlighten readers,” while also looking to “improve the lives of people and animals around the world.” So far, people seem to say that her book can do just that.
The 400+ page book’s 15 chapters delve into the minute details of organic production in relation to dairy cows, the fact that “free range” labels are often misleading, and the general treatment of animals by farmers.
Moreover, Faruqi even discusses what a slaughter worker goes through both physically and psychologically (being paid to kill animals is no small issue), and of course, she takes a look at fast food consumption.
Faruqi’s exposure of meat consumption, animal treatment, and the general health issues it causes in America is enough to drive anyone vegan, but what’s more haunting than the issues caused to our bodies by this process is the effects on the environment and ecosystem as a whole.
BTR was fortunate enough to sit down with Faruqi on the most recent episode of Book Talk, where she discusses her personal experience as well as her findings.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): Now you worked at an investment bank on Wall Street up until 2008 and you’ve always described yourself as a city girl. In those years in investment banking, were you paying attention to agricultural industry? Were you looking a little bit about how agricultural stocks go up and down? Or was that something completely off your radar when you were doing economics and banking at the beginning of your career?
Sonia Faruqi (SF): When I was working as an investment banker in New York, that’s how the prologue of Project Animal Farm starts. I was not at all focusing on agriculture. My work focused on various industries and agriculture wasn’t one of them.
I became interested in it and where food comes from and how animals are treated after I stopped working on Wall Street.
BTR: And it was a vacation to a dairy farm that really sort of sparked your interest in this whole industry.
SF: Yes. I wanted a rural vacation. I had never had one before and I was looking for a pastoral and picturesque setting. I thought it would be fun and I found myself volunteering at a dairy farm in Ontario, which was very different than what I had expected.
BTR: What was it like growing up in your household? You’re a twin correct?
SF: Yes, I am an identical twin.
BTR: I don’t know if you have other siblings, but what kind of meals would your family have in terms of the food that was put in front of you? Did you grow up eating a lot of cheese or drinking a lot milk? Did you… were you more of a rice-based kind of home family? Or was it all meat and potatoes and barbecue? What kind of food… was around all the time when you were a little girl?
SF: My diet was heavy in meat. Not more than other families I would say, but it was definitely my favorite thing to eat, I suppose… It has changed considerably since I was a kid, but the diet was various things. It could be a curry, it could be a burger, it could be pasta, or anything else and it was usually with meat.
BTR: And has the diet changed for the whole entire family? I know you got married last year, I think, and we just mentioned you’re a twin. Is your change in diet and the focus on your book Project Animal Farm, and all of the research you’ve uncovered over the last couple of years, has that kind of spread out throughout your family?
SF: It has affected my family. My sister, for instance, is a vegetarian and my parents eat less meat than they used to before Project Animal Farm. It has affected all of us. It has led all of us to think more about how we are eating and to think about how it affects our own bodies and also the planet and the animals themselves.
BTR: Do you think this is a revolution? Or do you think it’s a trend that’s happening right now that may swing back a little bit. When I ask you that, Sonia, what I mean by that is, I’m assuming you and I are roughly the same age. When I was growing up as a child, I don’t think I knew too many vegetarians… When my parents’ friends would come over, it was always barbecues, it was always beef, like you said, and burgers and chicken and whatever else.
And now, there’s a lot more vegetarian prominence everywhere you go. If this kind of really happened in the last 10 or 20 years, would you agree with that? Or do you think it’s always been there, just not in the northeast corner of North America?
SF: I think you’re right that there has been a flurry of focus on vegetarian foods and so restaurants are offering more vegetarian options and we are even having things like “Meatless Mondays” where some restaurants and even cities and schools are pledging to be meat-free on Mondays.
And there is a growing awareness of these topics–of our relationship to these topics. So, I think it is making a difference. The public consciousness is getting affected. We haven’t yet reached a tipping point of awareness that the average person, if you were to ask them, “How are chickens raised today?” They wouldn’t know how to answer that, but we are becoming concerned by even what we don’t know and for a good reason.