Cortney'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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Mar 05, 11

Read in March, 2011

A few hours ago I wrote in my "About Me" that I probably wouldn't be writing any reviews. But I enjoyed this book so much that I had to write one...

Mostly I wanted to assuage any fears that this is a book about shaming you for eating animals, or trying to lay down black and and white rules of how one should interact "correctly" with animals. The purpose of the book is not to convince you of black or white truths when it comes to how we treat animals. The purpose is to explore the large expanses of gray. The author is a psychologist who studies relationships between animals and people, and the book is a fascinating compilation of his experiences, thoughts, observations, and studies. The book winds its way through chapters that deal with different moral quandaries that pop up in our relationships with animals- from animal research, to breeding dogs, to how we adore our puppy but eat chicken, and peppered throughout are references to articles and theories and conjecture as to how our mutual past shaped our present interactions with animals.

There are many vignettes where the author walks us through a moral dilemma problem, and then presents us with possible logical conclusions. One of these is when he argues that cockfighting could be seen as more humane than eating chickens- one cock dies in the ring for every 10,000 chickens, and fighting cocks live 15 times longer than a factory farmed chicken, with much better living conditions. Yet most people, when polled, think cockfighting should be made illegal because it is brutal- yet those same people are fine with eating chicken. Again, he doesn't say this in a condemning kind of way, he is totally open to the moral inconsistencies that we have with animals, he's simply pointing them out and exploring them. One of my favorite parts of the book was Chapter 9, where among other things he talks about how everyone has moral inconsistencies, even people who are moral absolutists like animal rights vegans. In fact, he argues that the more absolute one's morals are, the harder it is to be morally consistent. I found myself writing down little notes and quotes, and this is one of my favorites: "Stop smirking. One of the most universal pieces of advice from across cultures and eras is that we are all hypocrites, and in our condemnation of others' hypocrisy we only compound our own." -Jonathan Haidt.

This is hands down one of my favorite books on the moral complexities of humans and our relationship with animals. It stays away from preaching, and instead takes a meandering, thoughtful trip through what is in the end a complex and thorny issue. I appreciate that the author didn't seem to have a bias one way or the other- he goes from talking about how he was unable to drown a mouse in a lab experiment to how he still supports animal research in spite of that. His willingness to say "I'm morally inconsistent" is honestly refreshing to hear, when the tone of the discussion around animals and humans has become increasingly more polarized and judgmental. There are no "you can't truly love your dog if you eat meat" insinuations. I'm a vegan leaning vegetarian myself, who volunteers at a no-kill animal shelter, and I thoroughly enjoyed the even handed, logical way he approached this topic.
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message 1: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Taylor Will check the book out because of this review, I like the quote, but where are the moral inconsistencies in veganism? Trying to minimise animal suffering in every aspect of daily life?


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