Book Review: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy

love dogs

Rating: 3.5 / 5

In Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows, Joy discusses carnism, which is the belief that humans eat animals without knowing why. Joy highlights the irony in the fact that animals humans normally keep as pets are abhorrent to eat, but other animals are not; in America, it is outrageous to eat dogs and cats since they are considered pets (and sometimes family members), but the majority of people who own pets are comfortable eating beef, pork, and chicken.   While this is interesting, the most shocking parts of the book are the behind-the-scenes at slaughterhouses, the conditions that the animals are kept in, and most shockingly, the psychological effect the killing has on factory workers.  In order to do the work involved, the employee has to be desensitized to not only the act of killing, but also the distressed sounds that the animals make.  However, once workers become desensitized, oftentimes the animals are then treated worse.  The first half of the book was definitely a tough but necessary read.

Overall, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows is insightful and eye-opening, but has pitfalls.  Joy pinpoints the dichotomy between eating some animals and not eating others, and it is absurd and laughable.  The reason why I didn’t give this book 5 stars is because I felt she was overly preachy, and only presented one side of the story. Factory farm animals are treated inhumanely, and the process with which animals become food for humans is shielded from the public.  The evidence of the cruel conditions of these animals is documented, overwhelming, Joy makes a good case here for better treatment of animals.  However, I am not quite sold on her belief of veganism (I don’t dare say vegetarianism since she touched on the inhuman conditions of chickens and cows which are used for eggs and milk)  because factory farm animals are treated so cruelly.

Her tone conveyed the message that the whole world is a conspiracy and everyone that eats meat is stupid and a sucker.  Instead of trying to guilt trip and belittle the meat-eating readers, Joy should have spent time discussing the health benefits of not eating meat.  She addresses the fact that many people honestly believe that meat is necessary to health, especially in terms of protein, and, for example, could have discussed how much protein a person needs daily, and what are some fruits and vegetables that can provide the needed nutrition.  I think that approach would have been more compelling, as it is fact based and actionable, rather than mentioning that the need to eat meat to maintain a healthy and balanced diet is a fallacy.  Joy’s intentions are true and respectable, but the execution fell short.

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