BOOKS: on vegetarianism & diet
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1999:
Everybody’s Somebody’s Lunch
by Cherie Mason
illustrated by Gustav Moore
with Teacher’s Guide: The Roles
of Predator and Prey in Nature
by Cherie Mason and
Judy Kellogg Markowsky
illustrated by Rosemark Giebfried
Tillbury House, Publishers (132 Water St.,
Gardiner, ME 04345), 1998.
Insects Hunting Insects…And More
by Diane Swanson
with photos and illustrations from the
Royal British Columbia Museum
Graphic Arts Center Publishing (POB 10306,
Portland, OR 97296), 1997. ($9.95, paperback.)
Cows Are Vegetarians!
a book for vegetarian kids
by Ann Bradley
Healthways Press (www.cowsareveg.com), 1998.
There seems to be no escaping sanctimonious
blather cast as alleged Native American wisdom about
meat-eating as a quasi-holy experience. If it isn’t a Makah
Tribal Council pretext for killing whales, it’s a pretext for
killing monkeys in Peru or wolves in Nunavut, the new
Inuit homeland in northern Canada––or a New Ager’s selfjustification
for recreationally shooting a back yard deer.
Former Humane Society of the U.S. board member
and Defenders of Wildlife lobbyist Cherie Mason
spouts it too, on two pages of Everybody’s Somebody’s
Lunch, which seem so extraneous to the rest as to suggest
they might have been added at an editor’s suggestion.
As a whole, Everybody’s Somebody’s Lunch i s
the story of a girl who finds that her cat has been eaten by
a coyote. Grieving, she observes other creatures hunting
and eating each other. Initiating a class discussion of predation,
she decides that predatory animals are not to be
blamed or persecuted for being who they are––a lesson
that badly needs to be understood in Washington, where
the state senate on February 12 voted to rescind the ban on
puma hunting with dogs approved by voters in 1996, and
in Montana, where the state senate is may approve a $20
bounty on coyotes because they eat poorly attended sheep.
The girl ends up dreaming “wistfully of a wolf
and a moose grazing peacefully beside each other in an
endless meadow of grass and wildflowers.”
About as many wolves graze as are vegetarians.
Vegetarianism gets some reasonably respectful
attention in the accompanying Teacher’s Guide by Mason
and Judy Kellogg Markowsky, but even in suggesting that
it should be raised and discussed in classrooms as an
increasingly popular lifestyle they avoid three arguments
typically very disturbing to meat-eaters: first, that humans
are the only predators who may choose to eschew both predation
and scavenging; second, that predation is for
humans an acquired rather than innately natural behavior;
and third, that humans have no need to eat meat at all.
Apart from soft-pedaling the human predatory
role, the Teacher’s Guide is as billed a thorough, accurate
introduction to “the roles of predator and prey in nature.”
Thinking children will probably find many of the recommended
exercises in it much more interesting and challenging
than the story it is supposed to go with.
The back cover of Bug Bites, by Diane
Swanson, disguises a quality introduction to entomology
as a predatory geek show, promising “mealtime’s creepiest
details.” Don’t be misled. Her presentation is tasteful,
and does not dwell longer than appropriate on how insects
eat each other. All aspects of insect life are described.
Ann Bradley’s Cows Are Vegetarians, now in a
fourth printing, was written to help vegetarian children
respond to peer pressure and pressure from adults to eat
meat. It succinctly summarizes the case against eating animals
raised on former rainforest; notes the case for vegetarianism
as a healthy diet by referring readers to John
Robbins’ Diet For A New America; mentions factory
farming only once in passing; and completely skips discussion
of ahimsa, the concept of not doing violence or
taking life, which is ironically the argument for vegetarianism
that children seem to find most persuasive.