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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book review: Animal Liberation.

 Wow, I can't believe it's been a month since I've updated the blog! In that time, I've been busy going to job interviews, volunteering, reading, and running my Etsy shop. I just wanted to write a short review of one of the books I just finished called "Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer. When reading this review, keep in mind that there have been several editions published over the years. This review pertains to the 1990 edition (it's a library book). Anyway, I found this book very informative. Mr. Singer is a philosopher and he presents a very good moral argument for animal rights. He begins the book by explaining how he became a vegetarian and presents his argument that humans and other animals should be given equal consideration. Next, he details many of the cruel experiments conducted by private labs and the government. What's really chilling is that much of the information in this chapter comes from direct quotes of the researchers themselves. He reveals several facts that the public at large isn't aware of: the fact that the vast majority of animal experiments are not considered important enough to warrant publication in the scientific journals, and the fact that many of the "experiments" done do not yield any new information. He gives an example of one experiment paid for by the US Public Health Service in which 33 dogs were put in a chamber heated to 113 degrees Fahrenheit and forced to exercise on a treadmill. 25 of the 33 dogs died. The survivors were put into a 122 degree chamber (without the treadmill) in which all but two of them died in 24 hours. The conclusion that they reached was that the outcome was consistent with all the previous literature on heat exposure and heat stroke in humans (which there was a lot of)! You can find the full description of the experiment on page 63.

In the next chapter, he explains (in graphic detail) exactly what happens on factory farms. This chapter is not for the squeamish, because he doesn't pull any punches! He describes the horrible conditions that cows, pigs, chickens, ect are forced to endure. He talks a great deal about battery cages, gestation crates, and the veal industry. The next time someone says "why don't you eat eggs/drink milk? No animals are harmed to get those", hand them the book and tell them to read chapter 3 and see how mistaken they are.

The fourth chapter is dedicated to the benefits of a vegetarian diet and how to make the transition. The only objection I have to this chapter is that he stops short of recommending veganism. While Mr. Singer does advise the reader to avoid dairy and battery eggs, he states that he sees nothing wrong with "free range" eggs. To his credit, Mr. Singer made a statement after this edition was published in which he said that he is slowly becoming more vegan as the years go by. Let's hope he becomes a full vegan soon!

The final two chapters deal with speciesism, or the belief that only humans have rights and that we can do whatever we want to animals. In these chapters, he explores how speciest thought has been ingrained in humans over the centuries and dismantles many speciest arguments.

Overall, I really liked the book. I feel that it has the potential to educate both devout steak lovers and veteran vegans.While some may argue about whether or not speciesism is as much of a concern as racism or sexism, one cannot argue that the farming and experimental methods described are beyond cruel. I highly recommend reading this book at least once. You can pick up the latest edition on

Have a happy hippie day!

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