BOOK REVIEW: The Animal Rights Handbook: Everyday Ways to Save Animal Lives

The Animal Rights Handbook: Everyday Ways to Save Animal Lives

This book is very similar to Ingrid Newkirk’s Save the Animals: 101 Easy Things You Can Do, but without the witty writing. I’ve read a lot of animal rights books, but Handbook falls toward the bottom of the heap. The writing is dull and uninspired, and the information about specific company policies and organization contact information is mostly out-of-date.

I will say that Handbook does offer a piece of smart advice sadly neglected by many other AR publications: suggesting that we animal advocates will our organs and bodies to medical science after we die. This is something I’ve championed for a while now—there is perhaps no better way to replace animals in research and xenotransplantation.

Other entries in this book will have AR folks scratching their heads. The author uses the eye-roll inducing terms “pesco-vegetarians” (eat fish) and “pollo-vegetarians” (eat poultry) and presents these as types of vegetarians just as legitimate as “regular” vegetarians and vegans! Now, I’m not one to say that a meat-reducing diet counts for nothing—I’d much rather see an omni reduce their meat intake than not. At the same time, for Pete’s sake, stop saying that fish and bird flesh are vegetarian foods. Just ask the few omnis in the audience to reduce their meat intake and leave it at that.

The naivety of the past is also glimpsed in this two-decade-old book. The Canadian seal hunt is assumed to be in its death throes and presented as a “success story” in the text. Little did the author suspect that while AR activists were looking elsewhere, the seal hunt roared back with a vengeance, complete with kill quotas set higher than they have ever been in the hunt’s history.

Later in the book, we are advised, “Before you join or contribute to wildlife or conservation groups, find out whether they support hunting.” Good advice. Yet one page later, the author urges us to “Join the Nature Conservancy,” which doesn’t just support hunting, but has proven itself one of the most relentless and merciless slaughterers of any and all species deemed “non-native” in its managed habitats.

(This review originally appeared at


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