One of my favorite songwriters, Devendra Banhart, sings: “Oh realize / It ain’t wise to idealize / Or put your life in the hands of any struggle / Never renounce / Or ever claim to be / And never buy that freedom just ain’t free now”. As I’ve walked this path toward liberation, I’ve found that this attitude has served me well.
Search for inspiration, not for heroes and idols – no one book holds all the answers, and no author is always right. Always read with an open mind, and make decisions for yourself. You have to take the good, leave the bad, and remember that just like you, these authors will always have more learning to do.
I’m only listing books I’ve actually read and think are worth reading, so if something fabulous is missing from this list, it’s not personal – I just haven’t gotten to it yet! Feel free to email me with your recommendations, at email@example.com.
Books Relating Animal Rights to Human Rights & Justice Movements
- Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry and Build Community by C.T. Lawrence Butler
- Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights by Bob Torres
- The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol J. Adams
- The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery by Marjorie Spiegel
- Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust by Charles Patterson
- Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money by Erik Marcus Includes a fantastic critique of current animal rights organizations and strategies, and invaluable advice for new activists
Practical Guides for Happy, Healthy Vegan Families
- Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil My favorite book I’ve read so far about how to help give kids the tools to make compassionate decisions for themselves
- Being Vegan by Joanne Stepaniak
- The Great Life Cookbook by Priscilla Timberlake and Lewis Freedman (Ithaca-area locals!)
- Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Joanne Stepaniak This cookbook features a recipe by my local vegan friend, Anastasia St. John!
- Healthy Eating for Life for Children by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Also provides guidelines for pregnant and nursing mothers
- Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World: A Complete Guide for Parents by Erin Pavlina
Philosophy of Animal Rights & Analysis of Speciesism
- Animal Equality: Language and Liberation by Joan Dunayer Open your eyes to the ways we perpetuate oppression of animals with our use of language, and learn less oppressive ways to talk about them
- The Animal Question: Why Non-Human Animals Deserve Human Rights by Paola Cavalieri A wonderful argument for animal personhood
- Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status by David DeGrazia
Books Written from Spiritual and Religious Perspectives
- Animal Grace: Entering a Spiritual Relationship with Our Fellow Creatures by Mary Lou Randour Moving and inspirational, this book draws on many religious traditions as well as the author’s own spiritual journey
- Judaism and Vegetarianism by Richard H. Schwartz An account of the history of Jewish animal rights work and thought, drawing on the Torah and other religious writings and presenting an argument for veganism as a higher form of Kashrut (Jewish dietary law)
- Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully Written by one of George W. Bush’s former speechwriters, this book is invaluable for learning how one can use the Bible’s concept of Dominion (and even a speciesist, Right Wing, Conservative interpretation of it) to justify compassionate veganism – not exploitation
Helpful Perspective for Activists (Not About Veganism, But Useful to Vegans)
- Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn This book will blow your mind! Read it and share it.
- Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten If you need hope to keep you going, read this one. It’s about the biggest (positive) change in human history, happening right NOW
- The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould See how science has been used to oppress humans – and think about how this applies to non-humans
- Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky Great advice to keep your activism productive and non-oppressive
I also keep track of books on Goodreads. Here are some reading lists of note: