Book Review: A Vegan Ethic: Embracing a Life of Compassion Toward All, Mark Hawthorne (2016)

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

A Concise and Compelling Introduction to Veganism and Intersectionality

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: Changemakers Books sent me a free book in exchange for an honest review. I also downloaded an electronic ARC through NetGalley.)

If, as the animal rights movement argues, there is no moral distinction between human and nonhuman animals—if animal rights are human rights—then it makes sense that we should be working for the liberation of all species.

In introducing the topic of intersectionality, pattrice [jones] asked the audience, “What is 6 times 7?” A few people yelled out, “42!” pattrice said, “OK, everybody imagine 42. Now, what is the 6 and what is the 7? You can’t say, can you? No, because the 42 is the product of the 6 and the 7 in interaction with one another.”

I think it’s safe to say that for most Black people in the United States, a polar bear on a melting ice floe is not the face of climate change—it’s Katrina.

“Compassion is a verb.”

Despite what 30+ years of PETA campaigns would have you believe, ethical veganism is not inherently incompatible with human rights. In fact, many of us vegans believe (passionately!) that the opposite is true, thanks to the concept of intersectionality.

First introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality is the idea that different forms of oppression don’t exist in a vacuum, but rather interact with one another. For example, Crenshaw coined the term to explain the myriad ways that racism and sexism interact, thus acknowledging that the oppression experienced by black women (“misogynoir”) is unique from and arguably more complicated than that experienced by black men or white women. The concept has since expanded to include all marginalized groups: women; people of color; immigrants; LGBTQ folks; those living with a physical or mental disability; sex workers; religious minorities; children and the elderly; the impoverished; and nonhuman animals.

While the animal rights movement has been a little too slow (imho) to incorporate the idea of intersectionality into its activism (see, e.g., PETA’s many problematic campaigns, not to mention their vociferous defenders), more and more vegans are expanding their circle of compassion to include human animals. In his third book, A Vegan Ethic: Embracing a Life of Compassion Toward All, Mark Hawthorne makes a concise yet compelling case for intersectionality and inclusivity. His argument is actually quite simple: “If veganism is about doing your best to not harm any sentient life, we must logically extend that circle of compassion to human animals as well.” What more is there to say?

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Book Review: Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, Mark Hawthorne (2013)

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

They Shoot Narwhals, Don’t They?

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation. Also, trigger warning for discussions of violence, including that of a sexual nature.)

“Hierarchies feed oppression because it allows for valuation: those at the top are more valued than those at the bottom. Oppressors like hierarchies that keep animals at the bottom because then you can do to humans what you do to animals if you say that the humans are like the animals. So it feeds oppression to have animal objectification.” – Carol J. Adams (page 492)

“Change is hard, but not changing is just as hard.” – Carol J. Adams (page 487)

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka (quoted on page 490)

In Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, author-activist and longtime vegan Mark Hawthorne examines some of the effects of these human hierarchies, which universally place nonhuman animals – an estimated three to thirty million species, comprised of trillions upon trillions of individuals – at the bottom of the proverbial shit pile. (That such categories even exist – human animals, and all the “others” – is itself a testament to the self-centeredness of the human species.)

While I was expecting an encyclopedic, A-to-Z look at animal suffering, Bleating Hearts is something much different; Hawthorne shines a light on practices that, for whatever reason, don’t garner as much attention in animal activist circles: Balut eggs, an Asian delicacy that involves boiling developing duck embryos alive. The plight of the ever-popular slow lorises (please don’t forward those YouTube videos, people, no matter how cute they seem!). Dolphin-assisted therapy (cruel, and a scam). Horse fighting (which often ends in the serial rape of a mare, positioned in the ring to induce the stallions to compete). Rogue taxidermy. If you think you know all there is to know about animal exploitation, think again. Even the most seasoned activist will discover something new within these pages.

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Striking at the Roots: Enter to win a FREE guide to animal activism!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Y’all might remember that I reviewed Mark Hawthorne’s Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism a few months ago. How I raved and raved?

Well, PETA is giving away five copies of the book. (I know, I know, five copies doesn’t make for good odds, but still.) You can enter to win here. Deadline is May 9 – my birthday!

Striking at the Roots




Everyday Activism: Viral Backdoor Action (i gives it to u)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

funny dog pictures

awwwwwwwz, lookit teh dawgy, iz sooooo cuuuute!

The Cuteness. Must. Fight. It.


As silly as LOLDoggeh is, he (she?) comes bearing an important message today: think outside the box, veg*ns!

In this vein, tonight’s Everyday Activism tip is a fun one that I picked up from Mark Hawthorne’s Striking at the Roots. It’s so simple and so cute that I was really quite surprised that I’d never thought of it.

Here’s Mark:

Many activists create a special signature at the end of their emails, appended automatically each time they hit the send button, asking readers to take a specific action for animals or including a link to a video.

Thanks to email, digital media has the ability to go viral. Viral marketing is word of mouth for the twenty-first century, but rather than telling one person at a time, you can spread the word (or photo or video or Web link) to thousands of people, all over the world. The emails with the most viral potential are those you can’t wait to share with your friends – the “you’ve got to see this” email that can take on a life of its own. […]

You can create your own viral email with an animal-rights angle. Site like feature countless images and video clips of animals. Pick any of them […] and blast it out with a brief note explaining that this is just one example of the sentience of animals, and direct readers to a link with more information.”

People love the fuzzy wuzzies, and that goes double for fuzzy wuzzies spouting lolspeak. Sites such as Cute Overload not only post pics of super-cute animals, they also often encourage readers to pay the cuteness forward. Many have a built-in email function, wherein readers can email the pic to their friends, along with a brief message. So find a cute photo, attach a relevant animal rights message or link, and get viral! This can be anything: a link to a news story, fact sheet, video, or website; a personal message; an eloquent animal rights quote – you get the idea. If you’ve got extra time to burn, search around for a photo with an explicitly animal rights message – you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

For example, I posted this photo a few weeks back (the lolz, we needs ’em):

funny pictures

It’s just crying out for a link to or, dontcha think?

If you’d like to give it a try, here are some of my daily fixes: is another popular one, but they don’t seem to have an email option (oh noes!)., on the other paw, allows for email but doesn’t have a field for personal messages.

Got a favorite site? Share your lolz in the comments!



Book Review: Striking at the Roots by Mark Hawthorne (2008)

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

As promised earlier in the week, here’s my review of Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism, by Mark Hawthorne. I actually devoured the first ten chapters in like two days, starting on Super Bowl Sunday…and then it took me way too long to get back to it. Go figure.

If you’re interested in buying a copy – which, hello, I totally recommend! – please consider paying a wee bit extra and purchase it from a veg*n vendor. As Mark points out, “One easy way to help animals is to support vegan stores and animal-rights organizations” – so here’s his list of animal-friendly outlets that are stocking his book. Even if you can only afford to forgo the big box stores every once in awhile, your buying habits definitely make a huge impact – so vote with your wallet, people!

That said, so consider dropping by Amazon to give my review a thumbs-up. LibraryThing too!


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Everyday Activism: Get Craig Veg!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

UPDATE, 5 minutes later:

Doh! My post was flagged and deleted. Methinks it sounded “too commercial”. Guess I’ll try again tomorrow. By the by, here’s their moderation policy and TOS. It’s kind of iffy re: links to free starter kits, but I bet we can find a way around it. Leave a note in the comments if you find a format that makes it past the Craigslist censors!


So as y’all know, I’m currently reading Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism. Well, that’s only half true – I finished it yesterday, and should have a review up soon. ‘Twas a great book, so if you were already kinda sorta thinking about maybe buying a copy, go ahead and do it already. You won’t regret it.

Even your uber-geeky blogger found some shiny new ideas for activism on the internets. Enter Craigslist – and today’s Everyday Activism post. (A category which, by the way, I plan to stop neglecting from this point forward. Pinky swear!)

The short of it: log on to Craigslist (you’ll need to create an account if you don’t already have one) and post an ad for a FREE VEG STARTER KIT, with a link to any one of the dozens of animal org’s that offer them.

The long of it, from Striking at the Roots:

Leafleting in Cyberspace

Activist Nora Kramer suggests posting an ad for a “Free Vegetarian Starter Guide” on

1. Go to

2. Click on your (or any) city on the right-hand side.

3. Click on the section titled “free” in the “for sale” section.

4. Click on the links titled “post” (in the upper right-hand corner).

5. Type out and submit your message explaining where they can get a Free Vegetarian Starter Guide, using as a link or a similar veggie guide link from PETA, Mercy for Animals, etc.

6. Click “post” and follow the final directions, then repeat once a week, as the posts get removed.

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Nothing brightens up a rainy day like free goodies!

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Yo! It’s time for another easyVegan Shout Out!

Colbert Report Shout-Out

This one’s to Mark Hawthorne, author of Striking at the Roots, who so graciously send me a copy to read and review. (Thanks, Mark!)

I’m a bit behind the curve on this one – seems like everyone and their dogs have already read it (there’s even a Wiki entry!) – but I’m working on it and hope to have a review soon. I just got the book yesterday, and have already given it a few skim-throughs. Looks like a good read. (And the cover is super-cute, too!)

In the meantime, go check out some of Mark’s other stuff. I recommend starting with Satya (rest in peace, my mostest favoritist animal lib magazine evah!) and then catching up on some of his more recent writings. (Ironically, there’s also a Mark Hawthorne who works as the Managing Director of McDonald’s. Unless Mark is going deep undercover, assume that they aren’t one in the same, and skip right through McD’s propagandtastic press releases.)

More info about Striking at the Roots after the jump.

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