Book review: Beyond Animal Rights. Food, Pets and Ethics by Tony Milligan


The title is something of a misnomer. Beyond Animal Rights. Food, Pets and Ethics is principally an exploration of the merits and drawbacks of veganism/vegetarianism compared with a meat-eating diet.
 
No doubt aware of the intense emotions the topic generates, Tony Milligan, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen and a vegan himself, has written a nuanced and considered 149-page philosophical tract regarding our diet, animal experimentation and our proclivity for keeping pets.
 
Is a “vegetarian diet in practice still tied in some way to slaughter”? Do “vegetarians and vegans find it difficult to come to terms with the more unpleasant aspects of nature”? What would be the consequences of all or many of the world’s population became vegans or vegetarians?
 
Despite Milligan’s fair-minded approach, those who don’t eat meat are likely to be baffled by his claim that “it is possible that someone may have been buying meat all their life but may have had no impact at all upon the total number of animals killed”, which presumably means those that don’t may also have had no impact. And the section examining the possible hypocrisy inherent in keeping pets (“how to square meat-eating with the love that we have for our pets”?) will be uncomfortable reading for our supposedly animal loving nation.
 
Logically argued and clearly written if, at times, a little slow-paced, Beyond Animal Rights doesn’t provide any easy answers but is nevertheless a thought-provoking entry into an important ongoing debate that affects all of us.
 
Beyond Animal Rights. Food, Pets and Ethics is published by Continuum, priced £12.99.
 
*Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer based in London, UK. [email protected].

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