Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Few Vegan Reads...

I thought I'd share with you, in this post, a handful of my favourite animal rights-related reads. I've always loved books that really engage me, that broaden my knowledge and help me understand issues in a deeper context. Once I'd wrapped my head around what was REALLY happening in the meat and dairy industries and what our supposedly 'healthy diets' are actually doing to our bodies, it really helped me motivate and stay on the vegan path. I think any of these books are great choices for anyone wanting to understand a little more about veganism, get down to the bare bones of the issues and challenges we face in a non-vegan world and figure out a way to move forward.

Mad Cowboy/No More Bull - Howard Lyman with Glen Merzer

If you're already a vegan you'll know who Howard Lyman is. Actually, even if you're not and you've got a decent memory you might recall him as the ex rancher who got himself and Oprah sued back in 1996 by a group of Texas cattlemen for warning America that Mad Cow Disease was coming (he was spot on, of course). He has also appeared in Vegucated and I spotted him in the trailer for the upcoming documentary Cowspiracy (which I am so excited about). He is a former cattle rancher, environmentalist, vegan advocate, cancer survivor, and a man I could listen to all day long. In these books he tells his own story of how he came to to be speaking out against his former career, lifts the lid on what really goes on in CAFOs and gives it to you straight on why it cannot continue. Add to this a few spilled industry secrets and dodgy government practices and you've got a winning combination. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these titles.

The China Study - T. Colin Campbell PhD, Thomas M. Campbell

This is a book that everyone, vegan or otherwise, should read as a matter of life and death (literally). If you're vegan you will want to share this book with EVERYONE you know. If you're not, it could completely change your life. If I'd read this pre-vegan I think I'd have immediately run to my fridge and dumped out the contents into the nearest waste bin. Colin Campbell came from dairy farming beginnings to becoming a leader in biomedical and nutritional sciences, to orchestrating the biggest, most comprehensive study of nutrition and disease ever conducted. This book details his findings and the evidence for dairy and animal protein is damning when it comes to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Campbell also features prominently in the documentary Forks Over Knives. This book isn't light reading and I've found it best to dip in and out of it in order to take everything in but, if you're concerned for your health, or that of a loved one, it is essential information which could prolong, if not save lives.

Empty Cages - Tom Regan

This is one of the first books I bought whilst researching for my dissertation research proposal (a recommendation from my psychology teacher daddy). Tom Regan is a professor of philosophy so this book is one of the most extensive and thought provoking of the lot. What I love about it is that he hasn't left any stone unturned and has applied his logic to any argument you could think of against animal sentience, veganism and the entitlement animals have to basic rights (like the one where we don't kill them and just leave them in peace). Like Lyman and Campbell, Regan had his values completely shaken up by what he came to realise during his process. He covers all bases in detail with this book; animals used for food, for performing and for research and poses many questions. Parts of this book will make you sad and angry (Regan goes into a fair amount of detail regarding what animals endure at the hands of humans), but it will also educate you and provide even the most hardened omnivores amongst us a deeper understanding of the animal rights movement.

Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows - Melanie Joy PhD

I bought this book after a recommendation from Our Hen House (because they are awesome and I trust them). Question for the non vegans; how would you feel if you were tucking into a pot of delicious 'beef' stew, only to be told that it was actually a golden retriever you were eating? Would you be repulsed, disgusted or sad? Would you refuse to eat any more, or at least be reluctant to, despite the fact it tasted so good? What Melanie Joy is getting at here is that there is a double standard in our society whereby we put animals into boxes and give them labels such as friend, food and clothing. In her view 'carnism' is born of cognitive dissonance and an unwillingness to think about, or relate to, the qualities of the species of animals we consider as our food.  Does a dog's life really have more value than a pig's? I'm still reading this one but I'm really enjoying it. This subject is right up my alley. It's also one that everyone should consider. A great book to buy two copies of and lend out to non vegan friends. I'll be urging my dad to read it.

Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer

This one will appeal to any parent who has ever wanted to do right by their children. Foer's journey began this way. He wanted to research as much as he could to ensure that he would be not only feeding his newborn son right, but also teaching him the right moral path in life. He later admits that, while the book began as a personal journey, it didn't remain that way and that his basic desire to know what meat was and where it came from, merely opened up a whole new manner of environmental and social questions. The book is peppered with facts about the meat, dairy and egg industries which makes it punchy and Foer's family anecdotes really helped me warm to his dilemma. Whether you're a parent or not, if you can relate to his niggling doubts then this book is definitely for you.

Those are a few of the books I've read recently. I'm becoming a bit addicted to buying them if I'm honest. I was able to pick up all of these books on Amazon, some for as little as 6 pence (always look in the 'new and used' offers page) and always below the listed price. They say that knowledge is power, and I want every fact and argument in my personal arsenal when tackling non-believers. Any of these books would also be great to lend out to friends. 

Have you ever read a book that changed the way you see animals?? What did you think to these titles?? Any other recommendations?? 

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