Nic'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
Apr 16, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction

Maybe 3.5 stars rather than 3 per se, but my 4 is really pretty high. This is borderline; I keep flip-flopping on it. I did like it, though.

Very readable and fun. I liked the book more as I got farther into it - the first few chapters struck me as a tiny bit sensationalist/aggressive (I was a little put off by the theoretical argument that feeding kittens to pythons is more ethical than feeding the pythons rats - like so many things in the book, it's totally logical, but not very comfortable to think about). I also found the tone of the very beginning - when the author is explaining his goals for the book - to be a tiny bit patronizing, but that gets better. It's an interesting and accessible read, and the facts are backed up by clear but unobtrusive endnotes. (They aren't marked in the text, but are collected at the back and identified by page and by statement.)

My favorite bit of the book, actually, is a quote the author attributes to John le Carré - I don't have the book by me now, but it was something like, "The fact that one can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing." I think a lot of people do throw up their hands in the face of a problem that they can't completely solve, even if they can do something.

Relatedly, I also hear a lot of people say things like, "There are all these major problems in the world, and I care about animal welfare, but I just care about human suffering more." While these things might be mutually exclusive in terms of, say, where you donate money, they're not in terms of how you live your life. Eating less meat/wearing less leather/etc. means less animal suffering, and is thus better by that standard than eating/using more.

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Beck (new)

Beck I think you mean "per se," not "per say."

message 2: by Nic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nic Beck wrote: "I think you mean "per se," not "per say.""

You are right. *Ka-fix* That's what I get for posting while sleepy.

message 3: by Nic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nic Beck wrote: "I think you mean "per se," not "per say.""


message 4: by Becky (new)

Becky Schneider Wait, why is it better to feed kittens to pythons than rats? I would think it's morally equivalent at best.

Graham and I were just talking about how Europeans/Americans have such a strong taboo against eating insects. I decided that I would totally eat grasshopper burgers (made from grasshopper flour) if they were on the market and yummy, but I have to admit I don't think I could handle the crunchy intact variety. I'm still surprised that there are not more pescatarian-types out there eating insects, though. I mean instant low-impact protein!

message 5: by Nic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nic Basically, the kittens vs. rats rationale boiled down to:

1. Cats eat meat and (captive/pet) rats don't, and pet cats also tend to hunt even when they don't need to eat, so they cause more animal death/suffering than do rats

2. By the same token, cats eat far less meat than do pythons (which only need one large meal every few months, I believe)

I believe the author was talking in terms of kittens that were already dead, though I'm not sure where all these dead kittens are supposed to come from. Even given that, the author says he likes cats and would never actually do this, which is reassuring. (Proving that a thing follows a kind of ethical logic and then shuffling his feet and saying, "I don't do that, though," is kind of a theme for him here.)

message 6: by Becky (new)

Becky Schneider Huh, okay. It seems like an odd argument to make in the first place, though, since if you are interested in minimizing your facilitation of animal death in any form, you're not going to own a python in the first place!

I suppose you could make a case for, say, feeding pythons in zoos with shelter kittens rather than breeding rats for the purpose. If Voldemort built a zoo he might think it was a good idea.

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