Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy, Ph.D.

Book Cover

Before I start, let me declare my vegetarianism. Despite my inclination to be sympathetic toward animals, I found Joy’s book to be naive in the extreme.

I was expecting a book on the cultural reasons for why Americans have differing attitudes toward consuming different animals, and, while she has included some of that, there is also content I was not expecting — perhaps it is my own fault for thinking a book with an attractively cute title and describes itself as an introduction to “the belief system that enables us to eat some animals and not others” would be a bit more about that topic.

The one salient point of the book, in my opinion, is her discussion of the slaughtering process. Better oversight and more transparency is needed to ensure the safety of food that is consumed and to give food animals humane treatment at all steps of their lives.

The call to activism throughout the book is rather strident and unpleasant to get through. People can decide on their own whether to get involved, and providing some contact information at the end would be appropriate, but the oppressive nature of her encouragement is uncomfortable to get through.

Toward the end of the book, she encourages the reader to “view ourselves as strands in the web of life, rather than as standing at the apex of the so-called food chain.” From where I sit, the food web includes animals eating other animals. Humans are omnivorous creatures, and simply because eating animals is not strictly necessary for a complete diet does not mean that people are required to, or should, suppress the urge to consume animals.

Score: 1/5.

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Filed under 1/5, Advance Reader's Copy, Book review, Nonfiction, Unfavorable

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