Gary L. Francione and Anna Charlton
Exempla Press, 2013
This book puts the issue of eating animals squarely on the table.
We all claim to care about animals and to regard them as having at least some moral value. We all claim to agree that it’s wrong to inflict “unnecessary” suffering and death on animals and–whatever disagreement we may have about when animal use is necessary—we all agree that the suffering and death of animals cannot be justified by human pleasure, amusement, or convenience. We condemn Michael Vick for dog fighting precisely because we feel strongly that any pleasure that Vick got from this activity could not possibly justify what he did.
So how can we justify the fact that we kill many billions of land animals and fish every year for food? However “humanely” we treat and kill these animals, the amount of animal suffering we cause is staggering. Yet no one maintains that animal foods are necessary for optimal health. Indeed, mounting empirical evidence points to animal foods being detrimental for human health. But however you evaluate that evidence, there can be no serious doubt that we can have excellent health with a vegan diet. There is also broad consensus that animal agriculture is an ecological disaster. Animal agriculture is responsible for water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, inefficient use of plant protein and water, and all sorts of other environmental harms.
The best justification we have for the unimaginable amount of suffering and death that we impose on animals is that they taste good. We enjoy the taste of animal foods. But how is this any different from Michal Vick claiming that his dog fighting operation was justifiable because he enjoyed watching dogs fight? Vick liked sitting around a pit watching animals fight. We enjoy sitting around the summer barbecue pit roasting the corpses of animals who have had lives and deaths that are as bad, if not worse than, Vick’s dogs. What is the difference between Michael Vick and those of us who eat animal foods?
This book shows that there is no difference, or at least not any difference that matters morally.
Francione and Charlton argue that if you think animals matter morally—if you reject the idea that animals are just things—your own beliefs require that you stop eating animal products. There is nothing “extreme” about a vegan diet; what is extreme is the inconsistency between what we say we believe and how we act where animals are concerned.
Many of us are uneasy thinking about the animals who end up on our plates. We may have thought about stopping eating animal products but there are many excuses that have kept us from doing so. The authors explore the 30+ excuses they have heard as long-time vegans and address each one, showing why these excuses don’t work. Packed with clear, commonsense thinking on animal ethics, without jargon or complicated theory, this book will change the way you think about what you eat.