Here are some books that inspired me. And some green juices. I posted this photo earlier on instagram last Summer, but wanted to write some more about it here.
It’s about 20 years since I’ve read Peter Singer‘s Animal Liberation (1975 – on the photos is a Dutch version: Dierenbevrijding). This book triggered my interest in animal advocacy and human-animal relations. I think at that time, it had a similar impact on many people like Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals had more recently (both being very accessibly written and reaching a very large audience, and both are translated in so many languages). Although it is not about animal ‘rights’ in the philosophical sense, since it is written from a utilitarian perspective. Peter Singer explains the term speciesism (discrimination on the basis of species) and documents the many ways in which animals suffer at the hands of humans.
The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams (1990) is a must read for anyone interested in feminism and/or animal advocacy and the concept of intersectionality. It shows the many ways in which the oppression of women and animals are interconnected, linking speciesism and sexism, based on feminist theory. Adams shows how feminist theory logically contains a vegan critique. The 25th anniversary edition of this book will be out soon. I very much recommend it. I’ve also read other works from Carol Adams, like the Neither man nor Beast, The Pornography of Meat and Living among Meat Eaters. One of my recent blog posts, about a Japanese ad for milk coffee, was a perfect illustration of how the sexual politics of meat pervades popular culture and advertising.
The Case for Animal Rights from Tom Regan (1983) is much more theoretical than Singer’s book, but also a real classic in animal ethics. Regan states that because some animals are ‘subjects of a life’, they have moral rights, which must be respected. He is considered the modern day founder of animal rights theory, based on a deontological approach (as opposed to Singer’s utilitarianism – which is consequentialist).
I have been lucky enough to hear all three of them speak live. Somewhere in the second half of the 1990’s, I attended a lecture that Tom Regan gave in Belgium, which was organised by animal welfare organisation GAIA. I remember it was a rather small audience, and afterwards we could have a chat with him. It surely was inspirational. In 2009, both Peter Singer and Carol Adams were speakers at the first Minding Animals Conference in Newcastle (Australia) which I attended. Adams gave the ‘sexual politcs of meat slide show’ at the conference dinner and I was very happy to be able to excange some words with her during the conference.
I haven’t been following up much on recent works in animal ethics/theory the last couple of years. One of the works I see recommended a lot is Zoopolis (2011) by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka.
Maybe I’ll give that a read in the future!
What recent work (let’s say from the last 10-15 years) on animal ethics/politics would you recommend as a must read?