BOOK REVIEW: Animals Matter, by Marc Bekoff (2007) published by Shambhala, Boston & London, ISBN 978-1-59030-522-5 (above pic from Amazon)
What did I like about this book? I liked Bekoff’s gentle philosophy, his belief that all living creatures have an important part to play (not just humans) in this world and we should respect that. Of course I only read this kind of book because I already share this belief, and probably all the animal experimenters, zoo keepers, farmers, and anyone else whose way of earning a living involves looking at animals as separate entities from human animals, will never see it.
I have always leaned towards vegetarianism since the day I walked into the local market with my children to see the nice animals, and realised I had a pound of animal in my bag. I was 29 and had never made this connection. Now I am totally vegetarian and do not miss the meat I was in the habit of eating, although it took many years to cut it out altogether and the support of my vegetarian husband. Vegetarianism requires you to break habits, but more importantly, form new ones. There is a huge variety of wonderful vegetarian foods out there, and more and more people are experimenting with it. Bekoff states that “Twenty vegetarians could live for a year on the amount of grains needed to provide meat for just one meat eater.” That’s worth thinking about.
This book covers all the ways that humans “use” animals, (and particularly interesting is his chapter on researchers’ observational methods and the effects these might have on an animal population – a practice that is done with the best possible intentions of increasing our knowledge so that we are more aware of what these animals need), and questions the value of these uses. The people likely to read it probably don’t need convincing, but everyone will find something about this subject that they didn’t realise, so a very worthwhile read. Although written in 2007, it is still relevant. It would be a wonderful school text book, but never will be.