Patrick Sprunger's Reviews > Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog
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Feb 16, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, general-nonfiction, read-in-2011
Read from February 13 to 15, 2011

It's been nearly ten years since I took a class in ethics/morality. I probably won't ever take another. So it's important to read a book on the subject every once in a while to prevent the old moral compass from breaking down.

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat supports the subject of ethics regarding animals from a scientific angle. The science is very light, however, taking a backseat to philosophy. In it, the author scrolls through the standard curriculum of topics like: Is animal research unetheical? Is it okay to eat meat? Cockfights are wrong, right? Standard animal rights fare. I was pleased to find the author also included questions about whether pet ownership makes you a better person or improves your health. What does participating in animal interests (from ASPCA to animal liberation cells) say about its devotees?

The question on my mind going in was whether Some We Love would be preachy or not.

It's not. At all.

While parts of the book will make the reader lie awake in bed for a while (and turn the reader off chicken - possibly for a long time), Some We Love spares the reader from the grisly pictures and lurid details of the activist wing animal rights lobby. Keeping in mind that most of us are not scientists, Hal Herzog avoids scientific jargon and stays on philosophy - keeping the topic in the big frame. If we don't need to comprehend issues at the neurological or genetic level to follow the argument, the author doesn't go there. Graciously, if our visceral reaction to a fine point is at risk of distracting the reader, it is skipped. Example:

"According to the [South Korean] Ministry of Agriculture, South Koreans ate about 12,000 tons of dogmeat in 1997. In 2002, the National Dog Meat Restaurant Association was organized to promote the consumption of dogmeat and related products. These include dogmeat bread, dogmeat cookies, dogmeat mayonaise, dogmeat ketchup, dogmeat vinegar, and dogmeat hamburger. You can also buy packs of 'digested dogmeat.' (I am not sure what this is.) A medicinal tonic called gaesoju that is said to be good for rheumatism is also produced from dogs. You don't want to know how it's made." (186)

The bold type is the author's words, emphasis mine. The point is to illustrate the humor present throughout the book. Another quote reads, "[The philospher Rob Bass] believes that if you correctly apply formal deductive logic to premises that are true, you will always end up with a correct conclusion. In theory, he may be right." Is it just me, or was that a joke?

What makes Some We Love really good – as opposed to just sort of good – is its synthesis of the generic and clichéd arguments adults picked up as younger people – as college students or Propagandhi fans. A little living dulls the reactionary element. I don’t know the statistics, but I presume I’m less likely to go vegan at 35 than I was at 19. This temperance clears the space for a lucid consideration of the issues. Furthermore, living contributes a lot to the process.

Do I think animals should be harvested for human medicine? Yes. Following surgery, my newborn son received a blood thinner derived from the intestinal mucous of farmed pigs. Do the intestines of pigs presumably raised and slaughtered for a variety of uses (primarily meat) have a greater need to exist than my child? What about right? My answer is probably different than the one I would have given at 19. If not, it is certainly more automatic.

I may be projecting, but I really believe this book was written with people like me in mind – people with prior exposure to the radical sides of the arguments and some life experience going in. Perhaps those without such prerequisites may find less to enjoy in Some We Love, but I thought it was great. It stimulated my thought, gave me the fantods, and reminded me that the unconsidered life is a waste.
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02/14/2011 page 97
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