I was fortunate to read a fully finished paperback edition in advance of the official publication date. The author is an online acquaintance of mine aI was fortunate to read a fully finished paperback edition in advance of the official publication date. The author is an online acquaintance of mine and I basically asked for a copy. He obliged, in exchange for an honest review. And unlike some authors who put on some pressure, however slight, Mark made clear all he asked for was an honest review.
Darn it! Yet another vegan book I wish I’d written! I think that it’s a brilliant and important book.
Because I loved this book so much it is very hard for me to review, true of most of the books I’ve loved. For some I’ve written only review blurbs or nothing at all. Particularly for this book, the stress I feel to write something worthwhile is intensified because I want readers to read this book. And I’d love to discuss these issues with those who’ve also read the book. I know that I cannot do it justice, but I will try. Anyone who reads this review and wants to know more about the book, or has any kinds of questions, please request that I elaborate or explain, and I’ll be happy to do so. I suspect I’ll be able to be more articulate and eloquent responding to people than I can be in this review proper.
I first have to say that I’ve read extensively about the subjects in this book, especially ethical veganism. I’ve been an ethical vegan for 28 years, since 1988. Since then I’ve read many books, articles, blog posts, etc., including dozens of vegan theory books and hundreds of vegan cookbooks. I’ve also had innumerable discussions with others about the topic. (I’ve also been an activist, for social justice since my teens in the late 60s and also for animal rights, most of the ar work done between 1988 and 2004. I’ve tapered off since then, regrettably, though I still do some online work and try to help and mentor individuals, and I do write reviews of vegan promoting books. This book has inspired me to try to always do more to help non-human animals and human animals and the ecosystem.) But, even before 1988, starting in about the early 1970s I was reading books about the environment and about animal rights and about health, and I did become a vegetarian in 1977, eleven years prior to going vegan. When I decided to go vegan, it was because I read a book and that book is the only book on my lifechanging shelf. Being a vegan is the best decision I’ve ever made and so that book was a seminal moment for me. As I read this book, I was thinking it might be the second book I’d put on that shelf. I’ve felt this way about just a few other books I’ve read but I eventually decided they didn’t merit that shelf. I’m still deciding about this book and it will take some time. It depends on what changes I make in living my life because of it. Even though none of the general information presented was brand new to me, the way it’s presented in its narrative is incredibly effective, and I did learn some factual details. Most importantly, it got me deeply thinking and I discovered some things about myself, and while not a completely comfortable experience, this is welcomed by me. I do feel changed by having read it.
Even though the book is packed with a lot of information and philosophy (interesting autobiographical stories, seamlessly woven into the account, and others’ personal stories, well researched facts, and cogently argued opinions from activists in multiple spheres) and in a way could be called comprehensive, it’s a slim book, and an enjoyable to read, so I hope that will encourage people to read it.
Every time I was afraid something I considered important about veganism or social or environmental justice wouldn’t be covered, I eventually found it in the book. In fact, one of my few quibbles is that perhaps I’d have preferred that readers be steered only (and they are) to vegan R.D.s and other books and websites for specific information about nutrition, partly because there is no way to adequately cover the subject in this type of book but mostly because what is “known” changes so frequently. (For instance, there are now certified vegan vitamin D3 supplements.) I’m conflicted about this though because I see the value for some (new vegans and those curious about vegan eating) to learn about some basic information in a book about veganism, especially because there are still so many misconceptions among so many.
Most vegans I know need to read it, and so do any who are vegan interested or who know vegans, and I will be recommending it to several of my vegan friends. It’s a perfect primer for new vegans or those thinking about veganism. It’s also an important book for single-minded vegans who care about only animal rights. It’s also important even for seasoned animal rights activists and long term vegans who are already also social and environmental justice activists.
I actually think that it’s just as important for non-vegans to read it, especially if they are activists or advocates for social justice and/or environmental causes. That’s one of the few potential flaws I see about this book: I’m afraid that its title will dissuade non-vegans from reading it, and that would be unfortunate. This is a great book for anyone who cares about any cause, who cares about others, who cares about the world.
My favorite line from the author is something I’ll use in many areas of my life, in my continual struggle regarding perfectionism: “Adopt the ‘practice makes progress’ approach.”
There were so many quotes I thought I’d want to put in this review, but by the time I listed all the pages that had text I wanted to include, I realized if I did, it would qualify as plagiarism; so many passages were ones I wanted to share and to remember.
I do want to include one more, from page 101, something said by Norm Phelps, because its truth hit me hard, and it will be appreciated by all ethical vegans: “speciesism is the one form of oppression whose oppressors consist of members of every other oppressed, non-vegan group. Consequently, while other injustices serve to divide humanity into groups (privileged/White/male/heterosexual versus marginalized/Black/female/LGBTQ, for instance), speciesism unites people. Nonhuman animal exploitation offers a veritable smorgasbord of human “benefits” – food, clothing, entertainment, scientific research, you name it – and rare is the person who doesn’t see these as enhancing the quality of her/his life. Eating and wearing animals are the reality for most people.”
The crux of this book is that compassion (for all) is important, and that the best way to improve things for all is for us to build coalitions between those who care about various causes, and to work together, and that doing so will help everyone’s causes. This thesis is so encompassing and I think the most effective approach.
I already believed this, but as I read I realized that while I am not a single issue person, that I don’t care only about farmed animals, or the environment or foster children, or whatever the many things that are meaningful to myself and others, that I almost but not 100% of the time have bought fair trade chocolate and avoided consuming palm oil, that I have a hybrid car, etc. etc. etc., I recognize that I do have my “pet causes” and that I am not always as inclusive as I’d like to be, so now my brain is definitely going at full steam, as is my heart, and hopefully my actions will come even more fully into sync. Activism that is effective is crucial. As I read, I thought about what I was reading and, even as I embraced the ideas presented, I was embarrassed to discover that some of what I came up with shows I’m part of the problem. I’m definitely inspired to work more on myself. I appreciate books that are both thoughts and feelings provoking.
While this is a book about serious issues, I also feel it’s a celebration of the vegan ethic and an optimistic book. I felt as much joy as I did sorrow and anger while reading it, and after reading it.
I loved the sections in the back, particularly the Q & A, actually the last chapter proper, and yes I’ve been asked all those questions and given similar answers, and the Quotations, and their backgrounds, some of which were new to me. I love quotes. The resources listed are far from complete (that would be impossible in any book) but there are many worldwide readers will find useful.
Because I see no place so far that lists the contents of this book, I want to give potential readers information about what the book covers: Contents: Acknowledgments; Introduction; Chapter 1 - On Animal Rights; Chapter 2 - On Veganism; Chapter 3 - On Human Rights; Chapter 4 - On the Environment; Chapter 5 - On a More Compassionate World; Chapter 6 - Q & A; Appendix A: Ten Ways You Can Help Animals; Appendix B: Ten Ways to Make Veganism Easier; Appendix C: Ten Ways You Can Encourage Someone Else to Go Vegan; Appendix D: Ten Ways You Can Help Humanity; Appendix E: Twelve Famous (and Not-So-Famous) Quotations; Appendix F: Resources; Notes; Select Index; About the Author; Other Changemakers Books by Mark Hawthorne
This is the author’s third book. I admired this author’s first book, and I’d like to also read his second book. I enjoy this author’s writing style his engaging way of storytelling.
This is a stellar book, a valuable contribution to the field, and I want everyone to read this book or have it read to them or to have its ideas presented to them, and to have everyone discussing it and the issues it addresses. I particularly recommend it to all vegans, all environmental advocates/activists, all human rights and social justice advocates/activists, feminists, people of color, peace activists, the privileged and the less privileged, all who care about any of the following: speciesism, sexism, racism, classism, ableism, bullying, colonialism, heteronormativity, etc., anyone who’s felt oppressed in any manner, and anyone who cares about reducing suffering and decreasing incidents of injustice. ...more