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BOOK NOTES & REVIEWS
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September 2009

Book News: Book on Veganism Published in Spanish tapalibro

A reader sent the following.

Veganism: The Practice of Justice and Equality’ was written by Ana Maria Aboglio. This path-breaking book is two hundred fifty pages long, divided into two parts, consisting of a total of sixteen chapters. Aboglio brings together theory and practice, to produce a book which appeals both to those who are already exploring the relationship between humans and our fellow animals, as well as to those who are new to the topic. ‘Veganism: The Practice of Justice and Equality’ sounds a call to reflection and change. Vegetarian activists who are fortunate enough to be able to read Spanish will want a copy of this book for themselves and to share with others.

Book on Judaism and Vegetarianism Now Online At No Charge  
People of many different faiths are inspired to be vegetarian at least in part by their religious beliefs. This book, Judaism and Vegetarianism, by Richard Schwartz, a retired professor of Mathematics, is one example. Published in hard copy in 2001, it is now available free online at www.jewishveg.com/JudaismAndVegetarianism/. . . .pdf

Here is an excerpt from an endorsement of the book by Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland:

Those who seek to live in accordance with the most sublime values of Judaism will find Richard Schwartz’s book an inspiration and guide for an authentic modern Jewish life that fulfils the injunction to “turn from evil and do that which is good, seek peace and pursue it.”


August 2009

New Book: ‘Why Animal Suffering Matters’      
Professor Andrew Linzey is Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and a Member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. He has published more than 20 books including: Animal Theology, Creatures of the Same God, and The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence.

His new book is ‘Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, And Practical Ethics’. [link to amazon.com] The following thought-provoking information was provided by the publisher, Oxford University Press.

Lots of people are disturbed by animal suffering, but hard pressed to say why it really matters. It is still sometimes supposed that caring for animals is just an ‘emotional’ issue with no rational basis. Our exploitation of animals rests on a range of ‘differences’ that are supposed to justify their inferior treatment. But when analyzed, these very differences, so often regarded as a basis for discriminating against them, are the very grounds for discriminating in favor of them.

When reconfigured, these considerations include:

    • The inability of animals to give or withhold their consent
    • Their inability to verbalize or represent their interests
    • Their inability to comprehend
    • Their moral innocence or blamelessness
    • Their relative defenselessness and vulnerability

When these considerations are taken fully into account, it becomes as difficult to justify the infliction of suffering on animals as it is to do so in the case of human infants. In ‘Why Animal Suffering Matters’, Andrew Linzey offers a radical new paradigm for our treatment of animals, maintaining that animals, like young children, should be accorded a special moral status. The argument is buttressed by a detailed analysis of three practical issues: hunting with dogs, fur-farming, and commercial sealing. After reading this book, it will be difficult for anyone to argue that any of these practices is morally defensible.


June 2009

Review of ‘The Face on Your Plate’  
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is a former Professor of Sanskrit and Project Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives who turned his attention to the emotional lives of animals around 15 years ago. Since that time he has written several popular books on the subject, including When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love, The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, and The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the last of which described the emotional lives of farmed animals and led to the author becoming a vegan. (Details of these and other publications can be found on the author’s website www.jeffreymasson.com.)

The Face on Your Plate -WW Norton, 271pp, pbk - presents the case for veganism. Each of the book's five chapters, as well as the lengthy introduction, can be viewed as separate essays. As might be expected, The Face on Your Plate draws heavily on the author's experiences researching and writing his previous books, especially in the second and fourth chapters which deal, respectively, with the conditions under which farm animals are reared and the reasons why most people implicitly deny the realities of animal farming through their choice of diet. The other three chapters present the environmental case for veganism, "the fishy business of aquaculture", and, finally, a discussion of the consequences for health of a plant-based diet and the author's own experience of life as a vegan. This last chapter is rather self-indulgent (do we really need to know what the author eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner?) and, with its many references to US grocery chains and exotic foods not generally found in the UK will be of limited use to British readers. Some of the arguments presented here are unconvincing, and insufficient evidence is presented in support of the extravagant claim that "from a purely scientific and nutritional point of view ... there is no healthier diet than a vegan one".

The author is on much firmer ground in other sections of the book where he appeals to the reader’s compassion rather than their self-interest. The first three chapters in particular contain plenty of valuable material and cogent arguments for veganism that will be of benefit to both the converted and the unconverted. The author’s informal, anecdotal style will appeal to many readers. He is astonishingly well read, as shown by the extensive recommended reading list, and some telling quotations are presented at the beginning of each chapter.

Masson’s arguments are unashamedly emotional. He wants the reader to empathise with farmed animals, to recognise the cruelties and deprivations inflicted upon them, to imagine themselves in their predicament, and ultimately to stop eating meat and other animal products – in short, to become a vegan. In answer to the charge that vegans care more about animals than they do about people, he asserts: “There is nothing more important to think about than the heart of empathy, which in the final analysis is nothing other than the ability to love. Becoming a vegan is simply one manifestation of that love.” Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, quoted at the beginning of chapter four, Masson likens the adoption of a vegan diet to "a change of perception akin to a religious conversion". Though not the most cohesive argument for veganism, The Face on Your Plate has the potential to create many more converts.

Paul Appleby, May 2009

New Book for Kids – ‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals’
Here’s the blurb from the book’s website www.wedonteatanimals.com
‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals’ takes a candid, compassionate look at the plight of animals on factory farms, using gorgeous artwork and lively text to introduce vegetarianism and veganism to early readers.
An endearing cast of animals is shown both in their natural state—rooting around, bonding, nuzzling, cuddling, grooming one another, and charming each other with their family instincts and rituals—and in the sad conditions of the factory farm. The book also addresses the effect eating animals has on our environment, rainforests, and endangered species. At the end, a section entitled “What Else Can We Do?” suggests ways children can learn more about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.
The boldest step yet in children’s literature, this heartfelt, informative book offers a key resource to inspire parents and children to talk about a timely, increasingly important subject.

 


May 2009

The Animal Activist’s Handbook

Here’s a new book by two people active in promoting animal welfare:
The Animal Activist’s Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today’s World by Matt Ball (of Vegan Outreach) and Bruce Friedrich (of PETA).

Here is a review from Compassion Over Killing:
www.cok.net/lit/handbookreview

April 2009

Worth A Look Books 
Here are three books that will be of interest to some vegetarians.

1.  ‘The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Foodby Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson Here is an excerpt from the following review: www.latimes.com/. . ./story

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wants to help all meat eaters wake up from the dream of denial they are experiencing. He wants to prepare us for what he describes as a "transformative moment," when we look at the meat or animal product on our plate (fish, fowl, mammal, egg, milk, cheese) and acknowledge that it came from a living being, capable, he has no doubt, of suffering and happiness. Like children when they are first told that the drumstick is actually a leg, the tongue is really a tongue, the bacon was once a pig like Wilbur in "Charlotte's Web," Masson hopes, with all his heart, that we will say, "Eeeuwww, yuck."

2. ‘Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating With More Than 75 Recipes by Mark Bittman

Here is an excerpt from the following review:
well.blogs.nytimes.com/. . . /vegan-before-dinnertime

Mark made the changes after developing high cholesterol, borderline high blood sugar, bad knees and sleep apnea, and realizing he was about 35 pounds overweight. A doctor suggested he adopt a vegan diet, which means no animal products. But for a food writer, Mark said, becoming a full-time vegan was both unrealistic and undesirable. Instead, he came up with a compromise:
I decided to do this sort of “vegan till 6” plan. I didn’t have huge thoughts or plans about it. I just thought it was worth a try. Within three or four months, I lost 35 pounds, my blood sugar was normal, cholesterol levels were again normal … and my sleep apnea indeed went away. All these good things happened, and it wasn’t as if I was suffering so I stayed with it…. I have not eliminated anything completely from my diet. I haven’t had a Coke in a while, but I didn’t drink that much Coke to begin with.

3. ‘Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine’ by Bryant Terry 

Here is an excerpt from the following review:
www.theoakbook.com/MoreDetail.aspx?Aid=2916&CatId=8

There was a time in high school when Bryant Terry "went off the deep end with junk food." The author of Vegan Soul Kitchen indulged an adolescent appetite for McDonalds, Burger King, and the offerings of other dreck purveyors in his hometown of Memphis. The memory of the satisfaction that came from cheap, fatty food informs Terry's work as a food writer and activist in Oakland some 20 years later. He's not judgmental when he sees a kid tucking into a bag of Cheetos. He just wants the kid to know there's a better world of food out there. … In 2006, he co-authored Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen with Anna Lappe, the daughter of Frances Moore Lappe, who published Diet for a Small Planet in 1971.


March 2009

Review of Book on Ducks 
Paul Appleby contributed this review of Duck by Victoria de Rijke, Reaktion Books, 192pp, paperback, 124 illustrations, 74 in colour; ISBN 978 1 86189 350 5, £9-99

Ducks, in many parts of the world, are such a familiar sight that we tend to take them for granted. Whereas other species of waterfowl such as the reclusive heron or the stately swan might prompt us to stare in admiration, ducks are rarely afforded a second glance unless we have set out to entertain ourselves by feeding them our leftovers. There are around 250 species and sub-species of duck, and fossil records suggest that they have existed for at least 50 million years, surviving the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today, several species are endangered owing to loss of habitat, climate change, hunting and pollution, including the eider duck (the original source of eiderdown and still farmed for this purpose in Iceland) and the Spanish white-headed duck, the purity of the species being threatened by interbreeding with the ruddy duck, a native of North America, leading to the controversial culling of its more numerous relative.

Like other titles in Reaktion Books’ Animal series, Duck is more concerned with the cultural significance of ducks than their natural history, although the latter topic is covered in the first chapter of the book. Here Victoria de Rijke, Reader in Arts and Education at Middlesex University, describes ducks’ habitat (anywhere that is wet), migration (all ducks are either completely or partially migratory), feeding (varied and voracious) and their reproductive behaviour (promiscuous, occasionally deviant and often downright dangerous for the females, as many as 7-10 per cent of whom can die from drowning or injuries sustained as a result of forced copulation). Other chapters discuss the rich use of duck metaphor in language, mechanical and animated ducks (notably Walt Disney’s Donald Duck), quack doctors, ducks in art and ducks as toys, including the ubiquitous rubber (actually vinyl plastic) duck, an incredible 165,000 of which were launched into the River Thames at Hampton Court in September 2007 to compete in the Great British Duck Race.

Unfortunately, ducks’ sociability has made them easy to domesticate and rear for food: 2.5 billion ducks and geese were killed for food worldwide in 2005 alone. Chapter 2 deals with the hunting and farming of ducks, but the author rather ducks the issue of intensive farming, noting only that “factory farmed duck has its critics”. One can only hope that readers will browse the Viva! website (www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ducks), listed in an Appendix, to find out what makes the factory farming of ducks so objectionable. The force-feeding of ducks (and geese) to produce foie gras (literally ‘fat liver’) is covered in greater detail. Although the practice has now been banned in twenty countries, a typical EU compromise prohibits force-feeding of animals for non-medical purposes except where it is current practice, and around 20,000 tons of foie gras are still produced worldwide each year.

Duck generally makes interesting reading, and it is refreshing to find a book about ducks that is not aimed at children or backyard farmers, but the author’s detached and rather academic approach to her subject matter makes the book less engrossing than it might have been. Nevertheless, Duck would make a reasonable primer for anyone eager to learn more about the inhabitants of their local pond.


December 2008

Book Notes  

1. Every Creature a Word of God by Annika Spalde and Pelle Strindlund. Cleveland: Vegetarian Advocates Press, 2008, 162 pp., $18, www.vegadvpres.com

What does a spirituality that affirms God’s love for all creatures look like? Borrowing from a breadth of sources, including the Bible and Christian monks, mystics, sages, and saints, Annika Spalde and Pelle Strindlund show that God’s compassion is the core Christian message.

Perhaps the book’s most compelling argument resides in Spalde’s and Strindlund’s own activism. They have frequently exchanged imprisonment for an opportunity to inform the public about the tragic plight of animals on modern factory farms. On several occasions, they and their companions have openly liberated animals—raiding factory farms and transferring animals to safe homes—and then accepting the legal consequences of what the law regards as theft.

This book aims inform, inspire, and challenge a broad range of readers, from those dedicated to animal protectionism to those who have not yet made the connection between “loving animals” and choosing not to eat them.

 

2. Guided by the Faith of Christ: Seeking to Stop Violence and Scapegoating by Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D., (2008). Cleveland, US: Vegetarian Advocates Press, ISBN 9-7809716-67648, $18.00 US Paperback

This book defines the reasons for violence in society and why there is continual scapegoating of humans and other animals who cannot adequately defend themselves. 

It is also a guidepost for teaching what needs to be done to eliminate these problems.

3. Raw Spa Cuisine with Chef Bryan Au, 2008, by Bryan Au. Bryan is author of Raw in Ten Minutes.

Among the raw vegetarian recipes in the new book are Donuts, Cupcakes, Ramen Noodles, Chocolate Fig Torte, “Teriyaki Rice”, Pesto Kelp Noodles. Read an interview with Bryan at rawepicurean.net/....-giveaway

To order the new book: www.rawinten.com


4. Animals as Persons by Gary L Francione, 2008, published by Columbia University Press.

A prominent philosopher of animal rights law and ethical theory, Gary L. Francione is known for his criticism of animal welfare laws and regulations, his abolitionist theory of animal rights, and his promotion of veganism and nonviolence as the baseline principles of the abolitionist movement. Francione maintains that we cannot morally justify using animals under any circumstances, and his theory applies to all sentient beings, not only to those who have more sophisticated cognitive abilities.

To read an excerpt:
cup.columbia.edu/..../animals-as-persons/excerpt


November 2008

Internationally Acclaimed Book--Eternal Treblinka--Now in Spanish

Spain is the latest country to publish "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust." Its Spanish title is "Por qué maltratamos tanto a los animales?" Some consider Charles Patterson's book--soon to be in 13 languages--the most powerful defence of animals ever written.

In February, 2005, a jury of 30 of the Germany's leading scholars and media figures chose "Für die Tiere ist jeden Tag Treblinka" (ISBN 3-6150-649-1), the German edition of Eternal Treblinka, as one of the country's ten most important non-fiction books. It was honoured alongside books about Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and World War I.

The book's title comes from the Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, to whom the book is dedicated. He was the first major modern author to describe the exploitation and slaughter of animals in terms of the Holocaust. "In relation to them, all people are Nazis," he wrote, "for animals it is an eternal Treblinka." (Treblinka was the Nazi death camp north of Warsaw.)

Eternal Treblinka examines the common roots of animal and human oppression and the similarities between how the Nazis treated their victims and how modern society treats the animals it slaughters for food.

The first part of the book describes the emergence of humans as the "master species" and how we came to dominate the earth and its other inhabitants. The second part examines the industrialization of slaughter of both animals and humans in modern times, while the last part of the book profiles Jewish and German animal advocates on both sides of the Holocaust, including Isaac Bashevis Singer himself.


 

October 2008

Karen Dawn of Dawn Watch - www.dawnwatch.com/alerts.htm
- has a new book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals."
www.thankingthemonkey.com

Here’s one example of the praise this book is receiving:

“In an age, and in a medium, in which people seem to be content with quick clichés and approximations, Karen Dawn writes a lucid and accurate prose that could be held up as a model to her profession. Her work treads that fine line between the provocative and the counterproductively undiplomatic assuredly.”
— JM Coetzee, author of ‘Disgrace’ and winner of 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature


June 2008

The Marriage of True Minds” by Stephen Evans is, according to the publisher, a quick and fun read about love - love for people and love for our fellow animals. Animal rescue is an important theme in the book, and the author is a vegetarian who is donating a portion of his proceeds to Best Friends Animal Society and other animal rescue groups.

In response to the question, "How did this story start for you?", Stephen responded:

"When I learned about the issue of euthanasia in animal shelters. There are millions of dogs and cats every year who are perfectly healthy and don't have homes, and they are euthanized after just a few days of being there. I had not known about that problem, and I wanted to write something about it. I knew that if I wrote a non-fiction book about it, it would be a very difficult thing to read and wouldn't have the reach that it would have if I wrote it a different way, so that was the genesis of trying to imbed the issue within in a different kind of story that would be a little more uplifting."

You can read the first two chapters, read reviews, listen to an interview with the Stephen Evans, etc. at unbridledbooks.com/trueminds.html


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