Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog

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Rating: 5 stars

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, by Hal Herzog, is a study of the relationships between man and animal. Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, is a prolific researcher and writer about the complex relationship between animals and humans–the many conflicting ways we think about animals and the ways we act upon our thoughts (and more often, emotions).

The book explains the obscure field of anthrozoology: human-animal studies. Even in this relatively small area of study, there are widely (and wildly) divergent attitudes on human-animal moral issues. This book explores the many, many thorny issues that arise in the way humans relate to, consume, test on, fight, and otherwise interact with animals of all species.

One of the thorny questions Herzog asks is whether he would rather be a fighting rooster (as in cock fighting) or a commercial broiler (as in the chicken which is purchased frozen from most supermarkets). The answer is surprising–the commercial chicken does not win.

The modern chicken, the reader learns, lives its short life (six or seven weeks) lying down (because it has been bred to become so breast-heavy that it cannot stand for long) in litter contaminated with excrement. Because of these pitiable conditions, the chickens develop breast blisters, hock burns and sores on their feet. “The air they breathe is ammonia-filled from the accumulated urine and excrement of tens of thousands of birds in one barn. The gas burns the lungs, inflames the eyes, and causes chronic respiratory disease.

The death of the commercial broiler chicken is no less horrifying than its life–frightening and painful, with the occasional (or not so occasional) chicken scalded alive when previous killing methods fail.

By contrast, the life of game cocks is almost idyllic. They are not fought until they are two-year-olds, and their first years of life are fairly pampered. For almost the first year, they are free to roam the chicken yard, playing and scratching as chickens like to do. When they reach puberty, they need to be separated from each other, but because the breeders want them to get exercise, they are given plenty of space to run. They are fed well and exercised as they get closer to their fight times.

Unfortunately, the roosters only have a 50% chance of living through their first fight. But death is fairly quick (from 10 seconds to almost an hour). I think I, also, would choose to be a game rooster.

Other chapters discuss pets, hunting, meat, animal testing, and almost every aspect of our interactions with animals that one might consider worthy of reflection. Herzog questions instead of moralizing and leaves it to the reader to draw final conclusions.

This book would make a great holiday gift for the animal-lover on your shopping list. It’s a book that inspires thought and reflection–a perfect book for making anyone involved with animals think about them–and our relationships with them–in a new light.