Todd Martin'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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's review
Oct 10, 2011

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bookshelves: environment-science, culture-politics
Read from October 10 to 11, 2011

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat examines the often contradictory ways in which people view animals. They are our pets, our food, our draft animals, our prey and predator. They illicit emotions and feelings of love, antipathy, disgust and irresistible cuteness. Herzog looks at these issues by investigating the subject areas of: dogs, cock fighting, carnivorism, animal testing and the animal rights movement.

Herzog does a good job outlining the complicated and seemingly hypocritical manner that animals are perceived and treated.
- Dogs are seen as members of the family, working animals or food depending on circumstances and culture.
- Millions of chickens spend their entire lives being raised in horrendous conditions before being stuffed in crates, electrocuted then having their throats slit, while cock fighting is perceived as barbaric by the broader society.
- Animal testing is viewed as a highly controversial subject, particularly in cases of beauty product testing that are of dubious value to humanity.

Most people that choose to perform a close examination their own view of animals will inevitably find inconsistencies and contradictions. This is a result of the fact that we’ve evolved to be omnivorous, yet also have a finely honed sense of right and wrong (and the fact that certain animals are delicious). This sets up cognitive dissonance that some find difficult to resolve. Ancient people found resolution by honoring the spirit of the animal that was killed for food through ritual. Today, supermarkets sell meat in plastic wrapped, styrofoam trays that makes it easy for us to ignore the fact that we’re purchasing the dismembered corpse of a once living animal with the capacity to suffer.

The book is easy to read and informative, and Herzog takes a balanced approach to an issue that has the potential to illicit strong emotions. On the downside, I’m not sure that cock fighting is really the best example he could have used to serve his point, but it was the subject of his doctoral dissertation, so it’s one he’s familiar with. Also, I wish he had spent more time on the various ways used to justify human’s treatment of animals as well as humanities relationship with wild animals (a subject entirely ignored).

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