Eat This Book: A Carnivore's Manifesto (Critical Perspectives on Animals: Theory, Culture, Science, and Law)
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If we want to improve the treatment of animals, Dominique Lestel argues, we must acknowledge our evolutionary impulse to eat them and we must expand our worldview to see how others consume meat ethically and sustainably. The position of vegans and vegetarians is unrealistic and exclusionary. Eat This Book calls at once for a renewed and vigorous defense of animal rights and a more open approach to meat eating that turns us into responsible carnivores.
Lestel skillfully synthesizes Western philosophical views on the moral status of animals and holistic cosmologies that recognize human-animal reciprocity. He shows that the carnivore's position is more coherently ethical than vegetarianism, which isolates humans from the world by treating cruelty, violence, and conflicting interests as phenomena outside of life. Describing how meat eaters assume completely―which is to say, metabolically―their animal status, Lestel opens our eyes to the vital relation between carnivores and animals and carnivores' genuine appreciation of animals' life-sustaining flesh. He vehemently condemns factory farming and the terrible footprint of industrial meat eating. His goal is to recreate a kinship between humans and animals that reminds us of what it means to be tied to the world.
fundamental characteristic of all living beings. What sort of speciesist pride leads us to suppose that it is immoral for a living being to do what all other living beings do? Is not our aim in doing so to grant ourselves an exceptional status? The vegetarian would like to remove himself from the circle of life. He imagines that he can occupy a position in which he is no longer burdened by the constraints of reciprocity in life. To this extent, he ascribes to himself an extraterritoriality that
text entitled “Eating Meat and Eating People,” the philosopher Cora Diamond asserts, a bit harshly, that all considerations of animals’ right not to be killed in order to be eaten miss the point.2 If it were really a matter of rights, nothing would prevent a vegetarian from eating a dead animal that had not been killed for the purpose of being eaten—for example, an animal that died after being hit by a car. Nor would anything prevent a vegetarian from eating a cow accidentally killed by
cruelty in the space of the living. A vegetarian might object here, and rightly so, that the Algonquin live in an ecosystem (the great forests of Canada) rich in meat and poor in edible vegetation and that for them eating meat is a nutritional choice essential to survival. There is some basis for this remark, but it is not especially pertinent to the question that occupies us here. That the Algonquin have to engage in predation to feed themselves does not necessarily mean that the provision of
I am calling nonreligious constitutional theocracy, a term that will ring a little strange in Western ears, is one such model. In the debacle in which the world is enmired today, every kind of help is welcome, and all alternatives are worth considering, even if they appear extravagant; after all, our contemporary democracies were utterly implausible in the Middle Ages, even for the most enlightened minds. The idea of replacing capitalist democratic regimes with nonreligious theocracies may be
choices. In this chapter, I first attempt to characterize the vegetarian position and then subject it to critique from the carnivorous point of view. The vegetarian will not necessarily agree with my way of characterizing his position, but we need not always characterize the vegetarian from the point of view of a vegetarian. Who Are Vegetarians? At the risk of being shocking, I would say that the term preference used earlier needs to be taken at face value. A preference is something I choose