Friday, September 2, 2011

"Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat" Book Review

"Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals" is the subtitle of this wonderful book, written by Hal Herzog.  Mr. Herzog is an anthrozoologist, a profession I never knew existed but now am very intrigued by.  If you've never heard of it, either, it's a combination of anthropology - the study of humans - and zoology - the study of animals.  Mr. Herzog has spent years researching the animal/human relationship and has come to the conclusion that humans cannot think straight about animals.

In many ways, he's right, and his research and the studies have proved this.  In "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat" Mr. Herzog explains that, mostly, we are conflicted in regards to the animals we love (our pets) and the animals we will ear (our dinner).  Why is it that animals such as dogs get held in high regard but animals such as chickens will be used to either eat or fight?  And speaking of using chickens to eat or fight- we turn out noses up at cockfighting even though chicken used in cock fights are pretty well taken care of during the earlier part of their lives, whereas chickens used for chicken nuggets in certain fast food chain restaurants... uh... don't.  Not that Mr. Herzog is promoting or approving of cock fighting in any way, but he does have a point.

Personally, this is where the "majority" does not apply to me.  I don't eat chicken nuggets.  When I do eat chicken, I have a pretty good idea of where it comes from since I buy local and have actually been to the farm.  In fact, the old rooster that lived on our property now lives there.  But do you think the majority of Americans know where their chicken comes from?  Do they even think about it, or, more likely, WANT to think about it?  No, probably not.

In the chapter "Prom Queen Kills First Deer on Sixteenth Birthday" he started talking about animal rescuing and hording.  This is something that I can easily relate to.  I did work at an animal shelter, given, it was a non-kill shelter, and I did that on purpose.  I am one of those people who would show up at home, sneaking in yet another dog into the house because I knew it was going to be put down the next day and I just couldn't allow that.  Working at a no-kill shelter is the only thing that kept us a no-dog family all those years.  Some of my long time readers may recall that I didn't get Boo until after I was no longer able to work at the shelter when I felt I was finally ready for the responsibility of having a dog.  In the book Mr. Herzog talks about Becky, the director of a municipal animal shelter.  She calls the animals by names, knows their stories.  And she loves her job... despite the fact that every year she will euthanize 60% of them.  Yet she remains perky and cheerful when talking about her job.  She also only has three dogs at home.  Mr. Herzog points out that she is the right person for that job.  I would not be.  There is no way I could do that without hoarding more animals than I could personally handle.  I would be miserable and sad all the time, like some of her fellow shelter directors who are miserable with their jobs.  Yes, someone has to do it and it's great that people like Becky exist- people who can do this job without hoarding and without letting it break them.  I respect people like that because it's such a hard job and something I could never do.

Yes, I myself am conflicted by my feelings toward animals.  I really can't think of anyone who doesn't.  Even my vegan father struggles with his feelings toward animals.  Not eating them doesn't end this.

I will admit it took me a long time to read this book.  Part of it was where I was while reading this (at camp).  Part of it was the subject matter, especially when the book got into abuse and torture.  At the same time, I found myself learning new things about... uh... myself.  Which is not something that happens too often when I read a book.  So I'm happy I have it on hand.  I will admit that I didn't read it from beginning to end.  I skipped chapters and back tracked later, only reading what I felt I'd be able to read without having those conflicted feelings that Mr. Herzog insists we all have.  I definitely have them.  So skipping around I went!  I do believe I have ultimately read the whole thing at this point, though, and I'm happy I did.  This may not be a book I would pick up off the shelves and want to buy, but it's one I'm sure I will read again someday when I come across it and need a reminder that I'm not the only one with these conflicts!

Hal Herzog is recognized as one of the world's leading anthrozoologists.  He is a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University and lives in the Great Smoky Mountains with his wife Mary Jean.

I'd like to thank TLC Tours for including me in another great book tour!

1 comment:

heathertlc said...

I'm glad that this book gave you a lot to think about, even it what you had to think about wasn't always comfortable.

Thanks for being a part of the tour.