review: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows

I kinda had an idea what was going on with this book when I requested a copy, but I’ve got to admit it’s gotten me thinking about some things.

I started out reading the foreword by The Food Revolution author John Robbins.  That put me in a pretty bad frame of mind, because Robbins has some very skewed ideas.  Tossing around phrases like “factory farming” and comparing feedlots to Auschwitz or Dachau only reinforce my notion that 1) people will do anything to sell a book; 2) somehow these folks can’t make a distinction between food animals and humans; and 3) they have no idea what animal welfare really is.

A natural reaction would have been to set the book aside right then and there, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Melanie Joy writes this book from a vegetarian perspective, but it’s not as preachy as you’d expect.  Instead, Dr. Joy examines ideological and ethical viewpoints of both vegetarians and meat-eaters, which she labels carnists.  It’s a bit of a pejorative, but I’ll cut her some slack on that.

Dr. Joy could easily have turned this book into “I’m OK, You’re a Barbarian,” which she doesn’t completely do.  There’s the requisite amount of “higher moral plain” and “enlightened ethics” here, but if that’s how she feels, so be it.  What I find useful about this book is the insight it provides me into this particular mindset.  There’s a resource list that’s also very useful, even though it is designed to provide said resources for vegetarians.  This is stuff we carnists need to know about as well, just so we can stay on our toes and build stronger points for our side of the discussion.

Keep in mind, I said discussion.  There’s plenty of room – and fuel – for arguments here, but that’s just not prudent.  I’ve often noted that it’s not productive to wrestle with a pig.  You get dirty and the pig enjoys it.  I really don’t enjoy arguments since, to my view, nobody walks away clean.

I’m learning to pick my opportunities a little better.  I try to gauge the amount of influence I might actually be able to have, rather than butt heads with a conflicting ideology.  I’m getting a little better at it, but sometimes I still fall into that trap.

Is this book accurate and balanced?  What do you think?  It’s not about balance, it’s about making a statement and Dr. Joy makes her statement.  Take your blood pressure medication and read the book.  Taken in the right light, it’s a very useful treatise.


About raybowman

church of Christ elder, farmer, grandad, agriculture writer and broadcaster

Posted on February 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Glad to see you trying to just listen to other view points, I think all of us have trouble with that sometimes…. When I do it, rather than react, its amazing how helpful it can be. Thanks for encouraging me to follow your lead!

  1. Pingback: A ‘carnist’ farmer reviews a vegetarian book « The Fellowship Room

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