[Marxism] Books on Vegetarianism (Not Just a Dietary Choice)

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Sun Dec 19 07:53:15 MST 2004


Hi,

Sorry, another apparently random question for listmembers. I have been a 
vegetarian for ten years now. I have never read a serious book on why a 
person should be one. I was mainly convinced to be a vegetarian for three 
reasons. Firstly, I believe that people living in relatively affluent 
circumstances do not need to eat meat to survive. Secondly, I believe that 
animals are just as inclined to seek pleasure and flee from pain as humans. 
And third, I believe that humans are animals, and that many species of 
animals, mammals mainly, are quite capable of expressing and developing 
emotional and relatively intelligent responses to their situation. In this 
sense, their capacity to be 'personable' ought to be enough to accord them 
some respect. Frankly, I consider that the first and second reasons combined 
are quite enough for any relatively well-off person to consider not eating 
any meat.

Still, I have just done a cursory search on the internet looking for books 
advocating vegetarianism based on what I would consider rational and 
scientifically verifiable considerations such as those I have made above. 
All I have found are books like Peter Singer's famous 'Animal Rights', 
wherein the author advocates vegetarianism on the basis of a kind of 
reductionist utilitarianism. Since, for the liberal Singer, any action or 
event ought to be judged according to how much pain or pleasure it produces, 
we should stop eating non-human animals because they are as sentient as we 
are. This is perhaps often true, but Singer seems to suggest that the 
consideration of animal pleasures  is exactly equivalent to the 
consideration of human pleasures. So, it would seem to be as wise to let a 
human die for want of food than to have an animal die to provide the food. 
Of course this is a totally abstract argument, but it does show up the 
logical consequences of animal rights philosophy based on utilitarianism.

On the other hand, there is a plethora of books on vegetarianism written 
from the 'spiritual' perspective. So I found books on amazon entitled 
'Animals: God's Messengers' (!); books talking about animals as 'healers'; a 
book written by one of Bush's speech writers adovating compassion towards 
animals (John Pilger once asked the English Tory Alan Clark if his concern 
for animal rights did not extend to those humans his government was then 
helping to slaughter in Iran-Iraq. Clark replied 'curiously not'); and loads 
of books written by religious types advocating vegetarianism from God's 
persepctive. (Maybe I'm wrong, but to their credit, it seems there is more 
support for vegetarianism within Judaism and Hinduism, than in Islam and 
Christianity).

Anyway, my question to those interested is: what books advocating 
vegetarianism do you recommend and why?

all the best

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