Animal Rights Books

AR booksWe’ve been vegan for a year and a half now and I realized that I needed to educate myself about animal rights more.

Before going vegan, I’d been a vegetarian for years and years and somehow, I just blocked out the suffering of the chickens and the cows who provided me with eggs and milk and cheese. So while I consider myself an ethical vegan and an animal activist, I don’t know my talking points well yet. Hence the stack of books in the living room.

Our library has a good selection, and I figured checking them out before buying would be smart. Because there are a lot of animal rights books out there. I could spend hundreds of dollars on so-so books. Instead I’ll pre-read a few and see if I want to own them.

I’m reading The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams first. It’s very good, and also it makes me a little nostalgic for grad school (or is that post-traumatic stress I’m feeling?) The book came out in 1990 — the year I started grad school and (incidentally) the year I met Debbie! I know there’s a revised edition available — or maybe it’s a 20th anniversary edition and has no revision…  but I’m going down memory lane because of the language.  It’s so academia circa 1990. There are names I haven’t thought of in 20 years — Andrea Dworkin and bell hooks are two examples.

The book is making me think and gasp and re-evaluate some things that I’ve never questioned. And oh my, some of the stories and quotes that she includes — haunting. Here’s just one example: an early 20th century doctor would call at a patient’s house a few times a week to administer ether to the wife so that her husband could have sex with her. Yeah. Can you imagine?

I’m also enjoying her insights into language. Like how we say “horsemeat” but not “cowmeat.” Adams says it’s because we don’t find horses to be culturally edible, so we have to qualify what’s being consumed as unusual. Or for example, cowmeat is really just “beef” in our culture but chickenmeat is just chicken. Because we really don’t care about chickens so we don’t have to hide behind a word.

I also got a history of the movement — I love history. I also picked up a few other books, some more academic then others. I only have them until January 20th so I need to get back to my reading!


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