I needed something to clear my mind. Cute, although man, these animals are crybabies. (Yes, the plot seems very similar to the first volume, but who c...moreI needed something to clear my mind. Cute, although man, these animals are crybabies. (Yes, the plot seems very similar to the first volume, but who cares? It's not like I invested much time or energy into "reading" this picture book.)(less)
I'm torn between one star and two. I would have given it a two just because the author seems to be making steps similar to those of Michael Pollan--"h...moreI'm torn between one star and two. I would have given it a two just because the author seems to be making steps similar to those of Michael Pollan--"humane" meat, eating less meat, etc. And although the author seems to be conflicted with his own choices, I feel that these steps could make a difference if enough people adopted them. Would I much rather the guy be vegan? Well, duh, but that's not the world we live in. If this book manages to convince someone to even CONSIDER the moral implications of food, then that's progress, right?
However, I have to say he destroyed his credibility with me rather early on: at the point in which he states that Hitler was a vegetarian, to be exact. He neglects to mention documentation from various sources--one being Hitler's chef--that refutes this (unless you're one of those special people who think that vegetarians eat sausage, game, grouse, and caviar). He only cited one source to support it; I'm surprised it wasn't vegetariansareevil.com.
He would also like to link vegetarianism with anorexia (I WISH! Wouldn't that solve all my problems?*) and bulemia. (How this has ANYTHING to do with the relationship between animals and people is beyond my understanding--and I'm guessing it's beyond the author's as well. Does liking animals put you at a higher risk for an eating disorder?!? Instead of discussing his field of "expertise," his writing derails into an attempt to discredit vegetarianism as "dangerous.")
*This is a joke in bad taste; deal with it.
For someone who makes a career out of studying the relationships between animals and people, he seems as misguided and confused as anyone else. It's sad to see someone justify cockfighting by saying it's more humane than the way chickens are treated on factory farms.
"Karen Davis tells me that no chicken in the world would want to live the life of a fighting rooster. I'll lay 25-20 that she is wrong." (P 170)
I'm sure some people would rather be stabbed to death than be placed in a concentration camp for their entire lives, but that doesn't justify either action. (And no, I'm not equating human suffering and animal suffering; these are just analogous situations.)
"The war on cockfighting is about cruelty, but the subtext is social class. The eighteenth century movement against blood sports was directed toward activities that appealed to the proletariat, such as bull-baiting and cockfighting, rather than the cruel leisure pursuits of the landed gentry, such as fox-hunting. It's no different today. Cockfighters come from easy groups to pick on--Hispanics and rural, working-class whites. Animal activists, on the other hand, tend to be urban, middle-class, and well-educated. They dismiss rooster fighters as a motley group of shit-kickers and illegal aliens."
What a fucking generalization. Last time I checked every animal activist I know is against blood sport of ANY kind and probably even more resentful of those undertaken by the wealthy (ahem, trophy hunting). Perhaps it seems otherwise simply because the wealthy have lobbyists to protect their interests and so animal activists gain a lot less ground. I would also like to point out (just for the fuck of it) that I come from a rural family. I'm also currently vegan while making $8 an hour at a part-time job where I work less than ten hours a week. I don't pay rent, but I do manage to buy my groceries with money left for gas and general waste (concerts, dining out, the occasional shiny object, etc.) and so it irks me a bit when people dismiss animal concerns as something left to people who can "afford" to care. As I stated before, bravo to the author for buying meat from free-range, organic, grass-fed farms instead of factory farms(!), but honestly, touting this option as a solution for everyone comes across as the ignorance of the wealthy and "well-educated" middle- to upper- class. (Thanks to the author's picture on the back cover I can now envision him giving Michael Pollan a well-deserved reach-around.)
He mentions how people frame questions and situations to mislead and yet he's guilty of exactly this. His foray into animal research mentions nothing of the alternatives to animal research. You're either for torturing animals to save lives or against--never mind that we may just be beyond the necessity of such experiments. "Yes, I would swap a million mice to wipe out Dengue. In a heartbeat. But a million mice for a treatment for baldness? Or erectile dysfunction? Hmm...probably not." While that's a lovely sentiment, why is someone's desire for a hard cock any less important than someone else's desire to consume animal flesh for the sake of TASTE? Well, if a guy has less cholesterol blocking his arteries, he might have less trouble getting blood flow down there, but that's not the point. The point is: why draw the "moral high ground" between the desire for vanity or sex and the desire for taste?
At the end of the book, Mr. Herzog is content with not particularly understanding "why it's so hard to think straight about animals." He doesn't seem like a bad guy, just very confused for someone who dedicated an entire book to a question he doesn't answer. I'd suggest he read Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy... since she actually fulfills the promise of explaining the contradictions we feel towards animals.
Let me reiterate a third time: I WOULD RATHER SOMEONE EAT MEAT FROM A FREE-RANGE, ORGANIC FARM THAN FROM A FACTORY FARM. I WOULD RATHER SOMEONE REDUCE MEAT INTAKE RATHER THAN THROW THEIR HANDS UP IN DEFEAT AND DO NOTHING AT ALL, but what I don't see the need for is another book, echoing Michael Pollan's sentiments without adding any more clarity or understanding to the issue. I take a chapter titled "Why Is Meat So Tasty?" as seriously as I do t-shirts that proclaim "If we're not supposed to eat animals, then why are they made of meat?" At least other books that lean towards animal-welfare reforms instead of animal-rights lend the issue the gravity it deserves.(less)
This could (and should) have been condensed into a magazine article. Too many not-quite-interesting anecdotes--mostly paraphrased from interviews, boo...moreThis could (and should) have been condensed into a magazine article. Too many not-quite-interesting anecdotes--mostly paraphrased from interviews, books, articles that the author read.(less)
"Philosophically, one can look at it this way. Broadly speaking, for as long as people have engaged in moral thought, ma...moreExcerpt/something to consider:
"Philosophically, one can look at it this way. Broadly speaking, for as long as people have engaged in moral thought, mankind has acted upon two fundamental beliefs: (a) It is morally permissible to raise and slaughter animals for our own consumption--a material good--because doing so is necessary for our survival and well-being--a moral good. But this very claim of moral sanction attested to the belief that there was a sacrifice involved and that (b) even in livestock production we do have at least certain minimal obligations of kindness to animals--a moral good.
Whether these are direct or indirect obligations is for the moment irrelevant to the fact that they exist, that they require certain restraints on our part, and that before the age of industrial farming one could act upon both (a) and (b) at the same time. And the problem is just this simple. The moral component of (a) is gone. We have no valid claims of need anymore, only our claim to the material good of fare to which we are accustomed. Meanwhile, in a global, high-tech economy of six billion consumers--perhaps nine or ten billion by the year 2100--livestock animals simply cannot be raised under humane conditions. We are left, then, with exactly one material good and one moral good, our pleasure weighed against our duty of compassion. And these can no longer coexist. One or the other must be abandoned.
Among those who have noticed this shift in the scales is environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who writes of how, 'like other Americans, I've reconciled myself to the idea that an animal's life has been sacrificed to bring me a meal of pork or chicken. However, industrial meat production--which subjects animals to a life of torture--has escalated the karmic costs beyond reconciliation.' Mr. Kennedy, who is leading a campaign against Smithfield for environmental negligence, buys only meat raised from small farms that 'treat their animals with dignity and respect.'
I think that is a decent compromise, and it is good to hear such a prominent voice taking the side of animals. How rare to hear anyone today speak of the 'dignity' of these creatures. But this middle ground is vanishing with our small farms. More and more, consumers are left with a choice between two radical alternatives. The way I figure it, we can be radically kind or we can be radically cruel.
I know, of course, that we vegetarians are still considered an eccentric minority. It is always hard to raise the subject without feeling a little awkward, the skunk at every party and barbecue. Frankly I have felt a little uneasy just writing about the matter, forcing unpleasant details upon the reader, a task that can be mean and spiteful if done in the wrong spirit. As harsh as the process of industrial farming may be, the motive, after all, is not cruelty. It's not as if anyone wants the creatures to suffer. We would all wish it otherwise. And in a way the standard vegetarian argument that the average person eats meat, and yet could not bear to see how it was produced, actually speaks well of the average person. Imagine a world in which most people enjoyed hearing and seeing the details.
I think this is why even the most impassioned vegetarian arguments often miss the mark: Because we tend to judge ourselves by motive and intention rather than by means and result. We vegetarians, in our defense, are at least prepared to look at actual consequences and inconvenient realities, understanding that he who wills the end wills also the means. At least we have confronted the seriousness of the matter, thought about it, made a conscious and deliberate choice, and how many people can actually pinpoint some moment in their lives when they decided to eat meat? From the first bits of flesh placed on the tray of our high chairs, most people go through life never once questioning that this is natural and necessary, the way things are and must ever be. Everyone does it, so it must be right.
Here's a good question to ask yourself: Would you give up meat if you were persuaded that factory farming was cruel and unethical? Hypothetically, in other words, how difficult and inconvenient would it be to act upon your own moral concerns? Or indeed how socially embarrassing would it be, how troublesome to have to make a choice and explain and stay with it? The next question would be whether it is, in fact, the absence of moral concern that prevents the change, or the prospect of the difficulties and inconvenience.
Likewise, if you must have meat, regarding it as a right and necessary thing while viewing factory farming as a bad and unnecessary thing, do you, like Mr. Kennedy, act on that distinction by buying only meats raised by humane standards? And if not, why not? Why is industrial farming wrong by your own standards, yet not a serious enough wrong to warrant a change in your own daily choices? Think of the effect that this decision alone would have on modern agriculture, more millions of consumers making that one little effort every day to spare the creatures from needless misery."(less)
Pretty much fluff... except I guess I'm supposed to take it seriously just because the cliched hookup--we're opposites, we hate each other, let's fuck...morePretty much fluff... except I guess I'm supposed to take it seriously just because the cliched hookup--we're opposites, we hate each other, let's fuck--doesn't occur within the confines of the book. It may as well have "TO BE CONTINUED" written on the last page though because, of course, they're going to fuck. When this is adapted into a Lifetime movie, they'll fuck.(less)
If this wasn't a quick read, it would surely get on my nerves since every story is written in the same style and each narrator has the same ridiculous...moreIf this wasn't a quick read, it would surely get on my nerves since every story is written in the same style and each narrator has the same ridiculously over-the-top lexicon. Thank Frith, it's brief so all amusement is not lost. (less)
Worth a read/recommendation for anyone curious about the ethical implications of their eating habits, but doesn't want to be condemned for sometimes c...moreWorth a read/recommendation for anyone curious about the ethical implications of their eating habits, but doesn't want to be condemned for sometimes choosing convenience over ethical considerations.
If you've already decided being vegan isn't for you, then at the very least, this book will debunk some common labeling misconceptions as well as assist you in opting out of factory farmed meat and fish that has been caught in a completely unsustainable manner.
There's also an interesting look into whether or not eating locally is an ethical decision, and it's far more complicated than I had realized.(less)
It had a promising start, but I was glad to be done with it. That in itself isn't a good sign since it's a relatively short book (under 300 pages), bu...moreIt had a promising start, but I was glad to be done with it. That in itself isn't a good sign since it's a relatively short book (under 300 pages), but felt much longer. Other than the soldier's perspective (and geez, it really gets drawn out), the novel doesn't feel like it is set in the 1950s.
The format--switching back and forth between different character POVs every few pages--felt a bit worn out thanks to having recently read Bloodroot. There are so many times when it became unbearably redundant and I would have to stop myself from skimming. This was especially true of Termite's chapters, which, for the most part, rehashed exactly what was just told from Lark's perspective. (The only difference was his interpretation gave me a headache more often than not.)
I felt like the best parts of book were early on and the last half of the book was used to spell out every little detail that had already been implied well enough.
There are some interesting sexual scenes I wasn't expecting though. One involved a young boy encouraging a girl to bleed into his hands while she was on her period. Sweet.(less)
I think this book would be a great start for anyone interested in losing weight. Unlike a lot of diet books, the recipes included are very short, with...moreI think this book would be a great start for anyone interested in losing weight. Unlike a lot of diet books, the recipes included are very short, with ingredients not too difficult to find. I didn't get a chance to try out any of the recipes because I checked this out from the library in NC and will be headed back to FL soon; however, the simplicity of the recipes was appealing. They aren't too intimidating for new cooks or people cooking on a budget.
I definitely want to try some of these recipes in the future and incorporate them into my diet, although I don't know if I could go completely without oil in my diet on a permanent basis. Maybe long enough to lose some weight, but I'd cheat every Sunday during the buffet at Loving Hut.
(Note: this book isn't strictly vegan--a few recipes have optional honey and some of the variations include adding chicken or shrimp for people who try the less committed diet plan--but it isn't advertised as a vegan diet, either. It's plant-strong. On the plus side, it does discuss the negative health aspects of eating meat, eggs, and dairy--as well as refined and processed foods.)(less)