Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

I’m finally getting around to reading Skinny Bitch, the New York Times Best Seller about losing weight on a healthy vegan diet. I just started it, but skipped ahead to read the chapter on dairy called The Dairy Disaster because I was curious what they would say. Here’s an excerpt:

When a woman gives birth, her body produces milk and she nurses her child. Breast milk can grow an 8-pound newborn into a 24-pound toddler. Sounds pretty fattening, huh? It is. By design, it is intended to allow for the biggest growth spurt of a person’s entire life. Breast milk alone can accommodate for a 300 percent weight gain in a 12 month period. When her child is anywhere from 12 to 24 months old, a mother stops breast feeding. Her milk dries up. The child will never drink breast milk ever again.

Cows, like all mammals, are much the same. Their bodies produce milk only when they give birth. Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to be milked – ever. Their udders, like women’s breasts, exist even when there is no milk in them. There is one major difference, however. Cows’ milk, by design, grows a 90-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow over the course of 2 years. It allows calves to double their birth weight in forty-seven days and leaves their four stomachs feeling full. Sounds even more fattening than human milk, right? It is. It should be. Cows are bigger than humans. And the inner workings of their bodies are completely different than ours, which they should be. They are cows. We are humans. Duh.

The authors go on to discuss how humans aren’t meant to drink milk after childhood because we lack the enzymes necessary to process lactose, and yet everyone is convinced we need to drink milk and consume dairy products to be healthy. Even my doctor the other day asked me how I was getting calcium if I wasn’t eating dairy. Um, my DOCTOR asked me that. That made me sad. It just goes to show you how great of a job the dairy industry has done at convincing us we need dairy.

As the authors state a little bit later, “We are the only species on the planet that drinks milk as adults. We are also the only species on the planet that drinks the milk of another species.” Interesting, isn’t it? When you look at it from that perspective, it’s really WEIRD that humans drink cows’ milk. That was kind of the thing that got me to quit eating dairy – I mean, not only is it horrible for the cows both physically and emotionally to be constantly impregnated and milked by machines instead of getting to nurse their young, it’s also really unnatural thing for humans to do. I’m sold – how about you?

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Earlier this week, I read this article about a Minnesota farmer, Catherine Friend, who recently wrote a book called The Compassionate Carnivore. I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to, so my critique of it is based on her website and other book reviews I found, but I feel I have a decent idea of what she’s trying to argue (or rather, justify, as the case may be). One book reviewer said this:

Central to her argument is that vegetarians do nothing to help animals because by ‘leaving the table’ they do nothing to ensure that the inhumane, non-sustainable factory farming of the big meat producers can be ameliorated by small farmers like herself.

This infuriates me. Vegetarians don’t “leave the table”; we stay at the table and make a statement by not eating what everyone else is eating. We encourage others to think about their food choices. And more than anything else, I have to say that all the veg*ns I know are activists who work every day in some form or another to reduce the suffering of innocent animals. Furthermore, most veg*ns don’t just want factory farming abolished, they want the slaughter of all animals – factory farmed or “sustainably” farmed – to end. So no, I guess most of us aren’t acting as cheerleaders for small farmers–we’re acting as cheerleaders for the billions of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals that are slaughtered each year in this country alone. I don’t think you can say that’s “doing nothing to help animals”.

Another reviewer wrote this:

The author writes a very touching chapter called “Letter To My Lambs,” in which she talks about their lives, her love for them, and her gratitude for their sacrifice. “I wish you a safe journey, and I honor your role in my life.”

“Their sacrifice”? That makes it sound like these lambs have a choice in the matter. I am assuming her farm is not so compassionate as to offer the lambs a choice between walking to slaughter or playing inLamb the pastures. I wonder which one they’d pick if they could! Also, “I wish you a safe journey”? To my plate? Yes, that will surely be safe – being held down against your will, getting “stunned”, being bled out, having your fleece [skin] torn from your flesh as you are still twitching, and then being eviscerated – yep, that sounds safe to me! I am sorry, but that is just laughable.

I can’t read this book because I would probably have to seek anger management treatment afterwards, and that doesn’t sound very fun or cheap to me. These reviews tell me enough: it just goes to show you that humans can justify anything if they really put their minds to it!

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