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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2015
This book is a *must-read* for anyone who agrees with the notion that it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals, or believes that animals have value not determined by our use of them as resources - that they have inherent value and that they are not just "things" with no greater value than inanimate objects. The vast majority of people in our society agree with these notions, but due to our cultural and societal norms, we are not encouraged to follow through to the rational conclusion of the very ideas we all accept.

This book, in a succinct and powerful way, strips away all of the reasons (excuses) we give for continuing to exploit animals in our day to day lives, and leaves us with an undeniable truth: if we wish to be consistent to what we say we believe with regards animals - that their lives matter and that they have moral value - we must become vegan, as when we are not vegan we necessarily treat them as nothing more than "things."

This is book is also a *must-read* for existing vegans who want to hone their advocacy skills and learn how to answer the sometimes difficult or obscure questions one might encounter in a conversation with a member of the public.

An essential piece of work for the vegan advocate, as well as for the the complete newcomer to animal ethics. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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on 1 August 2013
As a long-term vegan I'm pretty good at responding to virtually ANY question or jibe about eating meat or dairy - it does, however, get tiring (and boring!) endlessly fighting my corner. This book is the answer to my prayers! I read it in one sitting it's presented in such an easy and logical, naturally flowing text. As soon as it is available as a hard copy, I'll be passing it on to everyone I know! If you think friends and family would be resistant to reading it then at least you'll be supplied with articulate and pertinent responses to their 'suggestions' about your diet. You could even just get them to read the relevant few pages that answer their particular angle on the subject. I think this book will make most reasonable people consider veganism as a valid and optimal choice and help erode the current popular belief that veganism is 'extreme'.
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on 31 July 2013
This very elegant little book bears all of the usual hallmarks of Francione's writing: clear, crisp and compelling. Francione strips back the various moral arguments for not eating animal products to a simple premise: if you accept that it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering on animals, then there is no moral justification for eating them (or products derived from them). The argument being that anything that is done for pleasure or convenience is, by definition, unnecessary, and that all of our attempted justifications for eating animals fall under one of these heads. Francione goes on to list all of the main arguments put forward to support the eating of animal products - tradition, culture, nutritional necessity etc - and neatly disposes of them one by one. If you are not yet vegan, this work will make you do some serious thinking. And if you are, it will help you to navigate your way through our very unvegan world, and to give elegant, simple answers to the multitude of muddled, confused questions you face every day. Highly recommended reading.
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on 4 August 2013
Long term vegan and animal rights advocates Gary Francione and his partner Anna Charlton have written this concise and clear treatise on why we should refuse to exploit animals. They cover just about every angle, presenting coherent and hard-to-refute arguments against each possible contrary assertion - those "but"s that are constantly hurled at vegans and also used by omnivores to justify their position and convince themselves that they never could, should or would give up animal products.

The book is aimed at both vegans who can use the book as a tool to assist with presenting the moral case whenever needed and also at anyone else who might possibly be contemplating veganism or simply interested. I found it easy and quick to read and covered just about everything I could wish for in my daily dealings with non-vegans on the issue. It's useful to keep on your portable device, carry around and dip into on ad hoc occasions, just as a refresher should it be needed. It's good to be able to give confident clarity, structure and articulation to one's arguments which are based on both logic and also on what one knows in one's heart to be irrefutably true. It will surely be most welcome among nearly all vegans and contemplating vegans alike.

The book finishes with a long list of reasons as to why non-veganism is extreme (turning around the usual assertion).

"... What is extreme is that we are consuming a diet that is causing disease and resulting in ecological disaster. What is extreme is that we encourage our children to love animals at the same time that we teach them those whom they love can also be those whom they harm. We teach our children that loving others is consistent with hurting them. That is truly extreme -- and very sad. What is extreme is the fantasy that we will ever find our moral compass with respect to animals as long as they are on our tables. What is extreme is that we say we care about animals but we continue to eat animals and animal products."
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on 17 December 2015
In some ways, I feel a little duped by the title, an examination of the morality of animals because I thought it would be an open question of the pros and cons of eating meat. Actually, the author was clearly a hardcore vegan before he did the first bit of research for page 1, so the book is extremely one sided. In other words, it doesn't address with an open mind the questions of whether or not one should be vegan, but the author starts in his mind with the position that one should be, and then sets out to defends his beliefs.

Much of the book focuses on how to fight off objections. Therefore, the book is very suitable for someone who is already a vegan but wants to improve their ability to defend and justify their position. It's relatively less suitable (but still suitable) for someone who is unclear whether or not eating meat is morally correct and wants to decide.

The author is clearly smart, logical and rational but also arrogant, preachy, possibly a little angry and lacking in emotional intelligence. I also get the impression he largely doesn't fully realize this about his own personality. He talks about preachy vegans without realising that he himself is one, constantly peppering the book with comments like "no-one" could disagree with my position or "nothing" can be argued against it. I would love to know how many times he said "no-one", "nothing" or "so what" during the course of the book. 50?

But, give him his due. He does present a strong argument in favour of veganism and although I have other books to read before making my final decisions about my future diet and dinners he is probably correct in his central arguments and most of this arguments in fact. One or two things seemed off to me, but minor points which I've forgotten. A book with a superior "I am right, you are wrong, now change your life you lesser mortals" tone like this will make more sense perhaps a few generations from now if veganism becomes more mainstream and if one day eating meat becomes considered immoral by the wider society in the same way that say sexism and racism is today. However, for the time being, it's a bit much.

His coverage of the issues are quite comprehensive and although his arrogance was galling I have decided to give the book four stars anyway because ultimately he is presenting a positive idea to change the world, and that has to have more value that just writing some adventure spy story or something.

EDIT May 2016: Adding a title today as well as want to add that after a second reading of the book this month I think my comments on his "galling arrogance" were a bit over the top and slightly harsh. Maybe I was reacting emotionally to the book to an extent. Ultimately after reading this and other books I decided to change to a vegetarian diet because he's right.

To also add, this is a discussion about philosophy and morals of eating animals, not full of detail about what goes on the industry.
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on 26 January 2016
Some thoughts for the violence on your plate tonight as it is not worth the life lost for your meal

The most “humanely” raised animals are still kept and killed in horrible circumstances. Period. All of this talk about “happy” animal products is about us; it’s about making us feel more comfortable about doing something that nags at us. It’s about keeping us from having to recognize that we are all Michael Vick so that we continue to consume animal products. It’s really got nothing to do with the animals. They continue to suffer horribly irrespective of what “happy” label —“free-range,” “cage-free,” “organic,” “Certified Humane Raised and Handled,” or “Freedom Food” —is slapped on their corpses or the products we make from them. And it’s even worse when large animal organizations praise and support these “happy” products.

To say that a sentient being is not harmed by death denies that the being has the very interest that sentience serves to perpetuate. It would be analogous to saying that a being with eyes does not have an interest in continuing to see or is not harmed by being made blind. The Jains of India expressed it well long ago, “All beings are fond of life, like pleasure, hate pain, shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life is dear.”
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on 28 December 2015
In this book Gary Francione destroys all the excuses and justifications we have for killing the billions of animals that we do, in order to eat them. He proves with clarity, that there is no good reason to do this, and if we have any regard for animals, the environment, or just morality in general, we should try to reexamine the conditioning most of us have undergone that persuaded us that this is acceptable. The other beings on this planet do not deserve the hell we have created for them. Finding out how unnecessary it all is has been nothing short of a revelation to me.
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on 25 January 2015
This book made me think a lot about what I'm eating, it has definitely changed my diet and my attitude towards food. I liked the layout of the book, with each chapter being an argument against a vegan diet which the authors then discuss and point out the flaws in each argument. Only thing I didn't like we're the concluding chapters in which I felt like the reader was being shouted at rather than encouraged to change their diet, only my opinion however and I would definitely encourage anyone questioning their meat eating diet to read this. It will change how you think about food forever - and for the better
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on 2 July 2016
No, it didn't convert me to veganism.
I was already reducing the amount of meat I eat, due largely to Mark Rowlands, but this didn't push me any further along the line.
My problem with the argument in the book is that all animals get eaten, unless you're a human in which case you might be burned. The only question is 'by what?'.
As a moral issue, I think a vegan out to be prepared to eat roadkill. If they won't, then their argument is based on taste and not on morality.
I think they should be prepared to argue very hard about not eating (in the UK) venison. We have to cull deer (because there are no top predators) so the meat is there to be eaten. Top predators do produce more biodiversity. If that is us, then what's the difference between us eating the deer and a wolf?
Then there's grazing animals. Some land just supports grazing rather than crops and (according to Tony Juniper 'What has nature ever done for us') grazing can improve the quality of land. What happens to the grazing animals? Us or the lions get a meal.
I think the book didn't really distinguish the moral position about eating animals as such and eating intensively farmed animals - I do support arguments against the latter. I don't (so far as I'm away) eat intensively farmed animals.
I struggle more with diary, and here the vegans do have a case (and I'm trying to get to grips with it). I do however think that the small producers of high quality diary food and not the type of people whose livelihoods deserve to be threatened, so I have a problem with not buying their produce.
I do need a bit more convincing that the vegan diet would be adequately balanced.
But a good book, well worth reading and thinking about.
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on 17 November 2015
This is a book that every single person on Earth should read. I've read it twice already and I plan to read it third, fourth etc time. Even if you are vegan already it is still imortant to know how to respond to basic arguments against veganism and from time to time to refresh your memory. And if you are not yet vegan? Well - read this book! :)
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