Meat Logic: Why Do We Eat Animals?

By Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

meatlogic_cover_400“Humans are omnivores.” “Humans need to eat animals to live.” “It’s natural; animals eat other animals.” “We’ve been eating meat since the beginning of time.”

Have you ever heard any of these rationalizations for eating meat? Maybe you’ve actually said something like this in the past. But how accurate are these arguments? What would happen if many of these rationalizations were refuted all in the same place, one by one? Emmy-nominated writer and producer Charles Horn wanted to find out.

He reveals in his book, Meat Logic, that many of the rationalizations used for eating animal productsappear to be based not on emotion but on reason and logic. What he tests, and what his book is truly about, is the logical soundness of each rationalization.

There is a rationalization for everyone if you want it bad enough.” (p. 130)

Horn begins the book with a little background on philosophy, animals, and the basis for animal rights in order to give readers a general understanding of the dispute over eating animals. In the core part of the book, 31 different rationalizations for eating animals are individually put to the test. He provides scientific and philosophical evidence into language that makes it easy for readers to understand and really profit from the knowledge he provides. He is able to contest each of the aforementioned rationalizations in just a couple pages.

Horn states in the book that he didn’t expect every reader to change their mind about eating animals, but he is still “quite hopeful about the future.” He recognizes that more people will change their eating habits once they gain more knowledge about the subject.

If you are an animal activist and are looking for more effective ways to address those opposed to veganism, then this book is a must-read. It can also act as a great reference tool! If you are interested in the rationale of why humans eat animals, then read this book and allow it to challenge you and inform you and maybe even inspire you.

Have you already read Meat Logic? We would love to know what you thought of this book. Let us know in the comments below.

The Chain

Book Review By: Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

the chainWith the suspense novel The Chain comes the incredible story of Jude Brannock, an animal welfare investigator trying to uncover the animal abuse that takes place in the small town of Bragg Falls. Author Robin Lamont, an animal advocate currently living in New York, uses her professional experience as an actress, a private investigator, and a prosecutor as inspiration for her novels, including this page-turner.

The story begins as Jude Brannock arrives in Bragg Falls, a town that survives only with the local meat packing plant, D&M Processing. Jude, an employee of the animal rights group The Kinship, comes from Washington, D.C. with plans to meet Frank Marino, a D&M worker who has an exposing undercover tape of animal abuse at the plant. Upon her arrival, Jude discovers that Frank was found dead in his car just days earlier. Without Frank or the tape, Jude has no concrete evidence of the supposed animal abuse.

Jude’s passion for her work is what keeps her in Bragg Falls even after the knowledge of Frank’s death. She suspects that extreme measures were taken to destroy any evidence of animal abuse at the plant, so she sticks around to do more investigating.

It becomes clear to Jude early on that her presence is unwelcome in Bragg Falls because people see her as a threat to the town’s livelihood, regardless of any knowledge of conditions at D&M Processing. The knowledge she does gain from a few concerned citizens reveals the horrific, yet very real, treatment of slaughterhouse pigs.

Jude’s entire stay in Bragg Falls is shaped by misfortune and harassment from the town, and what stands out most from her journey is her unwavering conviction. She is brought down time and time again, but continues to fight for what she knows is right. What is also striking is how relatable Jude reveals herself to be. She isn’t just a hardened shell of a woman; she recognizes how difficult her line of work is and the emotional toll that comes with her job. Any animal advocate would easily relate to her character, and she makes this story seem so real.

This informative and inspiring novel is a must-read for anyone wishing to learn more about slaughterhouse animal abuse and the importance of advocacy for animals. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat!

What do you think about The Chain? Let us know in the comments below!

Powerful Vegan Messages

Book Review By: Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

powerfulPowerful Vegan Messages is the perfect read for those who want to explore veganism and for those who have already made the switch to plant-based living. The book delivers messages from the late author, H. Jay Dinshah, on his philosophy and work as an animal advocate. Dinshah’s daughter and co-author of the book, Anne Dinshah, recounts her father’s story and encourages readers to discover ways to positively promote veganism. Powerful Vegan Messages also includes more than 40 tributes to Jay from various vegan leaders, such as Thomas M. Campbell, Rip Esselstyn, and John Robbins.

H. Jay Dinshah was a lifelong vegetarian, vegan since age 24, editor of Ahimsa magazine and was the founder of American Vegan Society. He was a motivational speaker and very skilled at encouraging people to get involved. His vegan journey started after he toured a slaughterhouse in 1957, and he vowed to work hard every day until all the slaughterhouses were closed.

Inspired by her father’s activism, Anne Dinshah became vegan at an early age. She is currently vice-president of the American Vegan Society, editor of American Vegan magazine and is a professional rowing coach.

What stands out most in this book are the tributes to Jay and the recollections of his powerful vision. He saw a world in which no animals were harmed and strongly believed in ahimsa, meaning ‘to not injure.’ He had a gift for empowering others to live a kind and courageous life–just like his own.

“Jay knew that mentors, friends, time, conferences, and community were all important to success, but that knowledge holds the most power” (p. 16).

Anne also believes that knowledge is vital to promoting veganism and being a successful activist. In the book, she provides ethical reasons for being vegan and discusses ways to spread the vegan word in a kind, nonviolent way. She believes that educating people toward veganism will change the world because, after all, knowledge is power.

If you have a desire to explore veganism, or if you’re an activist seeking to learn new ways to encourage and educate others, then this book is definitely for you. The powerful, kind, encouraging words of Jay and Anne Dinshah make for a very uplifting read.

Pick up your copy here, and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments!

Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate

Book review by Rachel Curit, 2014 Spring Intern

GrowlKim Stallwood, a long-time animal rights activist, recently published his first book entitled Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate. Stallwood went vegetarian back in 1974 and then vegan two years later. He began his animal rights career at Compassion in World Farming and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, and he then moved on to be PETA’s Executive Director and the Editor-in-Chief of Animals Agenda. Drawing on lessons learned during his nearly 40 year career in animal advocacy, Growl is a must-read for those who are looking to up their advocacy game in an effective way.

Born in England in 1955, Stallwood began his life like most of us do, eating a variety of animal-based foods. The first seed of compassion for animals was planted as a child when he saw a well-known woman known as Camberley Kate walking her many rescued dogs around town. She’d take them in and find suitable homes for them. Though her presence ignited his compassion for animals, it wasn’t until he worked in a chicken slaughterhouse and processing plant that he awakened to the truth of what happens to animals who are used for food. Not long after that, he found himself going vegetarian and then vegan, and it was then that his career in animal rights took off.

In the book, Stallwood reflects on his own journey of animal activism. In many ways, his experience is like all of ours, with twists and regrets, and in others, it’s entirely unique. How many people are awakened to animal exploitation by working in a slaughterhouse? How many of us have the opportunity to work for several well-known animal rights organizations? He notes where he made mistakes, and he explores what he could’ve done differently to be more effective. He does so by sharing the four key values he believes must make up our animal activism: truth, compassion, nonviolence, and justice.

For example, Stallwood outlines compassion as a value that “encourages selflessness, dissolves prejudice, prevents violence, and promotes peace, through an altruistic love that opens our eyes, hearts, and minds to the suffering of others and forces us to make positive differences in their lives. Compassion is justice in action,” (Stallwood, p. 58).

He makes his point about compassion being a necessity to the animal advocacy movement by painting a picture of what an interaction between Kim the Chef (the man who worked in the slaughterhouse) and Kim the Vegelical (the man in his early days of activism) might look like. Kim the Vegelical has staged a protest with fellow activists outside the slaughterhouse in which Kim the Chef works. His intent is to make Kim the Chef feel guilty for working in the slaughterhouse. Kim the Chef walks by the protest quickly, making an effort not to make contact. Inside, he might feel guilt, because indeed working there has already brought up some of those feelings, but he brushes off the feeling and laughs about the protesters with his coworkers, avoiding expressing his feelings with them.

Personally, I can relate to Kim the Vegelical. While I’ve never protested or yelled at anyone, looking back on conversations I’ve had, I have to question what my motives were. Unfortunately, compassion and understanding for all beings, including humans, were not at the forefront of my mind, despite the fact that I was trying to do right by the animals.

Both Kims would eventually change their attitudes, but “a connection had to be made in which opinions were respected and a genuine reciprocity was experienced before something could shift and progress be made,” (Stallwood, p. 68). Again, I’ve noticed in my own conversations that when both sides act and speak respectfully, much more progress is made for the animals.

Through this scenario, Stallwood shows not only how compassion makes for effective advocacy, but also how ineffective a lack of compassion is.

Throughout Growl, Stallwood highlights his experiences and the lessons he’s learned, and how they relate to the four principles. Any activist, new or seasoned, can learn from Stallwood’s experiences and apply them to his or her own advocacy.

Have you read Growl yet? We’d love to hear what you got out of the book. Post your comments below!

Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat

Book review by Rachel Curit, 2014 Spring Intern

Defiant DaughtersDefiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat  compiled by Carol J Adams is a compilation of essays highlighting the intersectionality between different forms of oppression, such as speciesism, sexism, racism, and ableism. Each essay features one woman’s true story of how she came to both veganism and feminism, and how she incorporates these values into her life. Every woman’s story is unique and inspiring.

For example, in The Feminist-Vegan’s Dilemma, Colleen Martell highlights something many of us have faced at one point or another: the issue of whether or not to speak up about why we’re vegan. The big question Colleen keeps asking herself, as it relates to both her animal activism and her feminism, is “What are my goals as a feminist-vegan activist?”  Though she doesn’t arrive at a hard and fast answer, she does say in regards to the gender studies class that she teaches, “I know I’m not convincing every student in my classes to support feminism, but it’s enough for me that I’ve taught them to ask good questions about the world around them and to be critical of oversimplified answers. Maybe that’s the best I can do with animal rights as well.” (p. 84).

This was an important takeaway for me in terms of my own activism. Getting people to think deeper about who they’re eating and the moral implications that go along with that is all I can do. I can’t force veganism on anyone, but I can answer their questions with honesty and authenticity.

Another poignant essay was written by Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House. In Found Art, Found Hope she writes, “We, as a society, willingly and mindlessly accept that certain groups fall beneath others in this hierarchical system that just is. The poison just seeps in…Shrugging our shoulders and becoming complacent is not acceptable. In order to end this mind—this notion that ‘I’m better than you and therefore can do whatever I want to you’—we cannot just wait patiently. We need to fight.” (p. 206). This notion is what all oppression boils down to, the idea that one group of individuals is better than another for arbitrary reasons and therefore can exploit, dominate, eat, and/or use the other group to their own benefit. One of the fascinating points Jasmin makes is that to give up meat and other animal products is to give up our power over non-human animals. I’d never thought about veganism in those terms before, and it resonated with me deeply.

This book contains such a wealth of information that this review barely begins to scratch the surface. I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it for yourself. You’ll likely find connections that you’d never thought of before and will be moved by each woman’s heartfelt, personal journey of accepting herself and discovering her own beliefs and convictions.

 

Plant Peace Daily: Everyday Outreach for People Who Care

Book review by Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

Plant Peace DailyPlant Peace Daily is a handy reference guide for vegan advocates. It’s packed with creative ideas that can easily be incorporated into daily life and is a great resource for vegan groups.

The authors, VegFund co-founders Jim Corcoran and Rae Sikora, created the book Plant Peace Daily as an extension of their organization by the same name, which works to guide and inform people on their path to non-violence and cruelty-free living. The two experienced vegan advocates currently lead programs in topics such as Health and Nutrition, Ethical Consumerism, Sharing Our Earth Home, Communication/Conflict Resolution and Effective Activism.

Their book offers many ideas for outreach, tips on how to best communicate and the perfect venues for advocacy.

A few of their ideas include: be your own billboard, use local public access TV, do a natural food store tour, set up library displays, create a local group, leaflet and distribute starter kits and influence restaurants.

Other great info in the book includes a section on effective places and times to do your advocacy work. In “The Perfect Venues” chapter, they note that any place where people are standing in line and bored is a place where people might like to have something to read. Why not a brochure on the benefits of going vegan?

There are also helpful tips on how to communicate with people. The authors remind advocates to consider that they are representing what they are selling:

When you are doing outreach, you are really saying, “Want to be part of my community?”…Be a bright, healthy, positive example in all your outreach.

Plant Peace Daily makes it super easy to find what you’re looking for. Each of the major ideas for outreach are listed in the index, so you waste no time looking around and can go right to the section you need to get more information on a given topic.

Groups or individuals looking for ideas, structure, inspiration or clarification on how to best advocate for animals and veganism will find a perfect match with this book.

You can purchase a paperback copy, which will likely be especially handy if you’re a vegan group leader, or you can access a free PDF version on the authors’ website.

Check it out, and you’re sure to find something new to implement into your advocacy! And, don’t forget to let us know how it goes by sharing your experience in the comments.

 

Dear World, See What I See

Book review by Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

Dear World Cover ImageDear World, See What I See is an honest book about the gap between what vegans see and what much of the rest of the world has yet to discover.

Author Shanti Urreta’s book is written as a series of letters, all addressed to the world. Her introduction to eating healthy (no meat and fresh, plant-based foods) begins with a health scare. Looking for a way to cure her illness, she went online and found information about the links between diet and health. By the time the health scare passed, she had seen the light. Her paradigm shifted, and she suddenly found herself as an ethical vegan.

Urreta chronicles her emotional journey as she tries to make sense of how the majority of people fail to see what she has come to realize. In her new viewpoint as a vegan, she sees that animals are just as deserving of a life of peace and freedom as their human counterparts. She sees that humans acting violently toward animals correlates to humans acting violently toward each other. She sees that by feeding our planet’s resources of food to animals, who are then eaten by the wealthy, we are starving impoverished humans. She sees the need to do what is right.

The purpose of the book is to bring others into the light of this knowledge, which once seen, cannot be unseen. She writes:

“The goal of this book was to have our level of awareness increased in order for us to do better.  My hope is that you are open to this level of awareness. Please continue to learn. See a little of what I see … please

One of the letters of the book is a meditation on karma. She believes that much of the suffering of humankind is a result of our violent and disrespectful treatment of animals. She takes a look at what humans are doing to animals, and relates it to similar stories of what humans are doing to each other. The karma letter includes a selection of stories with topics including loneliness, obesity and deceit.

“…(W)e are all separate individuals, yet we are connected. And since we are all connected, what I do to others is really hurting myself. Animals are also part of us. We are all life—WE are the BEINGS on Planet Earth. We are connected to the animals just by being alive,” she writes in the book.

Urreta also touches on her struggles with how to communicate the message without losing friends or offending people, which she candidly admits she has done with mixed success.  She notes how she has been learning effective communication strategies through public speaking with Toastmasters, and how she tempers the degree to which she advocates when around her family. For instance, she explains that her husband, although a vegan himself, does not like the attention they get when she wears vegan-themed T-shirts. So she only wears them when they are not out together. She makes it clear that her family is an important part of her life and includes stories about them. The book concludes with a few of her family’s favorite vegan recipes.

As an author, Urreta wears her heart on her sleeve. Her desire to share this message of veganism and find a loving way to do it is evident in her writing. Vegans who are having trouble coping with the distance that being a vegan sometimes creates between themselves and their loved ones, or prospective friends, would likely find comfort in reading about the author’s experiences. It is a quick read and definitely gets across the critical points of why veganism is important, making it a good resource for the veg-curious as well. If someone has yet to understand how eating animals is an act of violence, this book might just help them finally make the connection.

 

The Animal Activist’s Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today’s World

Book review by Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

From authors Matt Ball, co-founder of Vegan Outreach, and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, comes The Animal Activist’s Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today’s World. In this handy, 117-page book, the authors share their tested techniques as vegan advocates.

The goal, as they argue, is to eliminate as much suffering on the planet as possible. The best way to do this is by choosing a vegan diet, thereby boycotting the brutality that is inflicted on billions of animals raised for food. Yet the authors argue that advocates shouldn’t stop there. It is just as important to influence others to accept this diet since two vegans save twice as many animals as one.

Ball and Friedrich use their combined, longtime experience as animal activists to explain how to communicate the message most effectively. When people ask questions about veganism, they advise using the Socratic Method and sincerely listening:

“We want to avoid lecturing others, since that turns them into passive recipients of information they can easily ignore. Instead, we want to focus on having a conversation where our companion’s thought process leads them to their own conclusion. By asking questions, we can help people to understand that making compassionate choices is a simple extension of the values they already hold.” (pg 46).

For example, most people do care for animals and believe that they are capable of suffering. Therefore, if through conversation, an advocate can get the other person to realize this on his/her own, the impact will be more lasting and profound. The authors’ advice, coupled with some practice, enables readers to become more adept at gently guiding people to discover for themselves whether or not eating animals is truly in line with their personal values.

The book also addresses how to deal with impending burnout, suggesting that advocates should keep a sense of humor as best they can, and also be involved in many, varied groups.

In the chapter, “Our Favorite Ideas for Rocking the World,”  Ball and Friedrich encourage leafleting “because it is so easy and so effective” (p 75), along with putting the cause out there for others to see. For example, advocates can wear t-shirts that promote the cause or put bumper stickers on their cars or laptops.

The Animal Activist’s Handbook is brimming with resources and information perfectly honed to vegan activists, so we encourage you to pick up a copy here. The book ends with an upbeat and convincing argument that the tipping point toward veganism is not so far away.

Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians

Book review by Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

Veganomics, by Nick Cooney, is the market research needed to sell a meat-free diet. Who is the most likely to go vegetarian and therefore our target audience? What angle of the benefits of vegetarianism has brought the most people over so far? What holds people back from changing their diets? Who eats the most meat? How many animals do vegetarians save and which animals are suffering the most?

The answers to these, and many other, questions are answered by author Cooney’s analysis of numerous research studies on the topic.

The vegan advocacy movement can rightly use this information to do its work to the best of its ability. Sure there is an agenda here. And that is to end the suffering of animals raised for food.

In one of my favorite parts of the book, Cooney writes:

“The main reasons people keep eating meat — or keep doing anything — are those they aren’t really conscious of. Eating meat is a habit, and habits are hard to break. Most people don’t want to put in the effort of learning how to eat a different way.” (pg. 85).

I find this hopeful, as it seems to say that people aren’t against eating a meat-free diet. Instead, they’ve been conditioned and it’s only a matter of time before society acknowledges that the world is, in fact, round. (And that eating copious amounts of industrially-raised animals is horrendous for their health, their spirit, the earth and their fellow beings.)

After reading the entire book, I will say that if you don’t have the time or inclination to really dig in, the author gets to the especially good stuff at the very end. Chapter 15, “Inspiring Change,” lists recommendations on how to motivate people to move toward a meat-free diet. Under the categories of “Animals Impacted,” “Audience,” “Barriers,” “The Minds of Animals,” “Motivations,” “The Switch” and “Testing and Research,” key points are revealed. This is followed by a list of additional tips from a psychological viewpoint, which stem from Cooney’s 2011 publication, Change of Heart.

A must-read for serious vegan advocates, Veganomics will surely stand out as an important work in the movement.