If you’re interested in history or human and animal rights or you’ve recently gone vegetarian or you’re on the fence about going vegan, you’ve got to check out The Jungle.

Unlike a lot of the books we’ve been reviewing, this one is a novel. But it’s a factual one about an immigrant family working to survive during the turn of the 20th century in industrial Chicago. Written in 1906 by Upton Sinclair, The Jungle was the first muckraking novel of its kind. It exposed the conditions of the meatpacking district (called “Packingtown” in the book), and for a story that took place at that time, that was a really big deal! And believe it or not, that wasn’t even the author’s intent. (The story ends on a political—socialist—message, which isn’t too surprising given the tragedy that the main characters endure.)

I heard about this book in high school, heard more about it when I read Fast Food Nation, and then finally totally geeked out and read it during college. One of the most important things I took away from this book was that the meat industry has been messed up for a really long time, and it’s not only the animals who suffer but also humans! Now, more than 100 years after the book was published, not much has changed. There were terrible working conditions for people in slaughterhouses back then, and we’ve all seen “Glass Walls” and know the horrors of what’s still going on!

This book had a big influence on my going veg. I can’t wait to read your review and see what you thought of the novel!

Send your review to [email protected] (and make sure that it’s your own—we check!) for 750 points.