Bandit; drawing by David Levine

In describing Beyond Beef as “the most disturbing indictment of the beef industry” since Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the publisher in fact understates the importance of Jeremy Rifkin’s new book. Eighty-five years ago Upton Sinclair disclosed that the meat Americans were eating could be disease-ridden, and that its unhealthy condition was often shielded from inspection by widespread corruption. Sinclair also revealed the inhuman working conditions and appalling animal suffering pervasive in the meat industry. Rifkin too tells us of health risks, corruption, and the ruthless exploitation of animals. But he goes beyond Sinclair in showing the injustices produced by the beef industry on an international scale and its ruinous effect on the environment. That is why Beyond Beef should be compared not with The Jungle, but rather with Silent Spring, The Fate of the Earth, or the book that is its nearest predecessor, Diet for a Small Planet. Like those books, Beyond Beef draws our attention to a threat to what we most value.

If it seems odd that a book about cattle should be so important, consider the growth of the cattle industry alongside that of the world’s population. That the growth in world population is one of the greatest risks to the survival of all species on this planet is now a commonplace; but do we ever hear of the threat from the world’s cattle population, now 1.28 billion and with a combined weight exceeding that of the human population? Is it not, Rifkin asks, a little disingenuous of intellectuals and planners in the first world to dwell on the number of babies being born in less affluent nations, while ignoring the overpopulation of cattle, to which we ourselves contribute?

The inefficiency of feeding grain to cattle has been well known since Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet was first published in 1971.1 Rifkin reports on some more recent studies that confirm the central thesis of that pioneering work. Only 11 percent of the feed goes to produce the beef itself, with the remainder being burned off as energy, excreted, or absorbed into parts of the body that are not eaten. Cattle in feedlots produce less than 50 kilograms of protein from the consumption of over 790 kilograms of plant protein. So a very large proportion of plant protein would be available as food if it were not grown for feeding cattle. The huge appetite for beef in industrialized nations is a form of conspicuous consumption that drives us to demand more and more land and resources, thus forcing up the price of the dwindling supply of land and resources that remains available for others to use in order to obtain the bare necessities of life.

That, however, is only one of many reasons why Rifkin objects to the cattle industry. There may be little new in his discussion of the threat posed by the cattle industry to the tropical rain forests that are home to most of the species on earth, but he paints the picture well. Since 1960, more than 25 percent of the forests of Central America have been cut down so that cattle can graze where the forest once stood. For many years about six square yards of jungle were destroyed for every hamburger eaten in the US. US imports of Central American beef have now declined, but the Central American cattle industry continues to be responsible for the loss of forests in the region, and in Brazil the cattle ranchers are still pushing on, oblivious to the animals and plants they destroy as they burn and bulldoze the Amazon jungle, graze cattle for a few years, and then move on once the soil has lost its fertility. Scrub takes over the abandoned pasture, but the forest does not return.

In the United States itself, cattle deplete natural underground water reserves, spread weeds through their feces, and lead ranchers to exterminate native animals who compete with the cattle for food and water, or who prey on them. The United States loses about seven billion tons of topsoil each year—Iowa, for example, has lost over half its topsoil in less than a century—and cattle and feed crop production are largely responsible. The President’s Council on Environmental Quality has described overgrazing as “the most potent desertification force” in the United States.

In the arid lands of Africa overgrazing has done more damage still. Colonial frontiers interfered with traditional grazing patterns, and population growth has done the rest. Rifkin tells of ancient savannahs now turned to desert, and of the soils of the sub-Sahel region breaking down and blowing away “under the weight and force of tens of millions of hoofed locusts, relentlessly devouring everything in their path.”

We are gradually realizing that cattle pose a threat, not only to specific regions, but to the world as a whole. When the forests are cleared so that cattle can graze, billions of tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. In 1987, the clearing of the Amazon rain forest alone contributed 9 percent of the total worldwide additions to global warming. The energy-intensive cattle raising methods of the industrialized nations are responsible for the consumption of huge amounts of fossil fuels. Chemical fertilizers, used to grow the feed crops for the cattle industry, produce nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas. Finally, as Rifkin delicately puts it, “cattle emit methane,” and this is the most potent of all the greenhouse gases. The world’s cattle are thought to produce about 20 percent of the methane released into the atmosphere, and methane traps twenty-five times as much heat from the sun as carbon dioxide. When we eat beef, we may be contributing to the drowning of entire nations living on low-lying Pacific islands, to the flooding of coastal regions of Bangladesh on which millions depend for survival, and to the loss of entire ecological systems that are unable to adapt to the rapidity of artificially induced climatic change.


Rifkin’s case against cattle frequently draws on research carried out at the Worldwatch Institute, in Washington, DC. Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment is the most recent in a series of notable papers published by the institute. The authors, Alan Durning and Holly Brough, provide further documentation for the environmental case against the cattle industry. Unlike Rifkin, however, they make their case against farm animals in general, pointing to the growth not only in cattle raising, but also in that of pigs and poultry, as a threat to our environment. The expansion of the livestock industry as a whole has been the most dramatic recent change in world agriculture. Some 38 percent of the world’s grain crop is now fed to animals, as well as large quantities of soybeans. There are now three times as many domestic animals on this planet as there are human beings.

Durning and Brough agree that consuming animals or their products, such as milk and eggs, has hidden costs that are passed on to all of us, whether we consume animal products or not. Figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that the industrial democracies provided $120 billion in subsidies to animal farmers and feed growers in 1990. Crop programs in the US and the European Community provide incentives for farmers to grow feed grains on land that would otherwise be used for pasture, thus in turn making factory farming more profitable than traditional grazing.

Factory farming in the wealthier nations is not only wasteful in its use of grains and water; it is also a major source of environmental pollution. Factory farming concentrates enormous quantities of manure that, in more traditional modes of farming, was naturally returned to the fields. As a result rivers, lakes, seas, and ground water are being contaminated by nitrates. The concentration of manure also means that it decomposes without oxygen, and thus produces methane (in addition to that emitted by the animals), whereas manure that falls in the fields does not. The Netherlands, Belgium, and France are now officially known as “manure surplus” regions, producing more manure than their land can absorb.

As Rifkin showed for cattle, so Durning and Brough demonstrate for all farm animals that the expansion of the farm animal population in poorer countries is a major cause of environmental destruction. A study of a village in Nepal showed that farm animals do more to destroy forest and to cause loss of topsoil than the gathering of wood for fuel or building purposes. And Taking Stock confirms the sad picture of rain forests being turned into pasture, and of the demand for meat from the well-to-do causing farmers to switch from grains intended for direct human consumption to those more suited to animal feed.

What is to be done? Durning and Brough propose ending subsidies that encourage the raising of farm animals, and instead taxing products on the basis of their full ecological costs. The price of meat would double or triple if these costs were taken into account. In developing countries, it is vital to secure the land rights of tribal peoples and peasant farmers, so that they cannot be pushed out by owners of large pastures. Everywhere, the Worldwatch study urges, we can educate people about both the ecological costs and the health risks of a diet high in animal products, and we can encourage a change in consumption patterns. If Americans were to reduce their fat intake to the recommended 30 percent of total calorie intake, national pork consumption would drop by 40 percent, beef by 20 percent, and poultry by 10 percent. Durning and Brough suggest that health warnings about meat could mean, as has happened with tobacco, that it would become less attractive to consumers.


Rifkin’s suggestions are along similar lines but he gives free rein to a utopian strain in his thinking. His closing words paint a glowing picture of a world “beyond beef”:

Moving beyond the beef culture is a revolutionary act, a sign of our willingness to reconstitute ourselves, to make ourselves whole…. By doing battle with “the world steer,” a new generation expresses its sensitivity to the biosphere and its regard for the plight of the poor. By eliminating beef from the human diet, our species takes a significant step toward a new species consciousness, reaching out in a spirit of shared partnership with the bovine and, by extension, other sentient creatures with which we share the earth.

Suppose that we accept the desirability of the goal. We should then cease to eat beef. Perhaps Rifkin’s powerful book will persuade a sizable number of readers in the industrialized world to take this step. But Rifkin himself has shown that in many cultures beef is seen as the most desirable food. As long as the growing middle classes of Latin America and Asia demand more beef, the rain forests will continue to be diminished. And how are the cattle herders of the Sahel to find a way of living that will replace their dependence on the animals who are destroying their own land? Will the growing awareness of the consequences of our greed for beef be enough to create a worldwide movement to pass beyond it? Rifkin’s book inspires the hope that it may be, but more specific strategies are needed to make this a reality.

Though Rifkin’s attack on the modern cattle industry emphasizes the impact of cattle on our environment and on world poverty, his book also shows genuine concern and respect for the sentient creatures who are being massproduced and then slaughtered. Here Rifkin comes close to embracing the views of the animal liberation movement. These views have now been challenged by Michael Leahy, a philosopher at the University of Kent in England. In Against Liberation, Leahy attacks the philosophical basis of animal liberation, using as his weapon the later philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and in particular the Wittgensteinian doctrine that only those who use language can have thoughts or beliefs. Since animals are incapable of using language, in Wittgenstein’s view, as Leahy expounds it, animals cannot hope, or experience grief or remorse; they are not selfconscious; they cannot intentionally do one thing in order to acheive something else, and they can have no beliefs, except perhaps in an attenuated sense. They are, in Leahy’s term, “primitive beings.” Leahy does not hold, as Descartes famously did, that animals are incapable of feeling pleasure, pain, or anything else, but he does hold that, since their mental lives are so limited, they lack the most important kind of interests that we have, and so we are justified in giving very little weight to the pain or distress that they may feel when our own interests are at stake.

Even if Leahy were right about the limits of animal consciousness, he would still have given us no reason why the pain and suffering that animals are, by his account, capable of feeling should not weigh as heavily as human pain and suffering. In other words, even if animals were not capable of the same range of feelings as we are capable of, it is not clear that the pain they can feel is any less painful, nor why it should matter any less, than the pain we can feel. But in any case, Leahy’s view of the minds of animals is not persuasive. He puts it forward in the spirit of a true believer rather than as a philosopher open to new ideas. He appears to belong to a philosophical sect, members of which adopt a suitably reverent attitude to the work of the later Wittgenstein and his apostles, and dismiss more recent approaches to questions discussed by the master. Thus Leahy castigates both students of animal behavior, like Marian Stamp Dawkins and Donald Griffin, and philosophers, like Tom Regan, for holding that consciousness is “some sort of inner awareness” of experiences such as hunger or fear. Such people are, Leahy suggests, obviously unaware of Gilbert Ryle’s “conclusive defenestration” of this view in The Concept of Mind. To invoke Ryle today as conclusively establishing anything seems quaint, for Ryle’s mode of arguing from the concepts we ordinarily use has long been rejected by most contemporary philosophers.

Leahy’s other great weakness is that he believes he can know what animals are capable of without going out and looking at what they actually do. Thus, following Thomas Aquinas and the Oxford philosopher Anthony Kenny, he asserts that animals cannot act “for a reason” because, lacking language, they “cannot give a reason.” On the same ground he denies that animals can act intentionally. To preserve this thesis Leahy has to try to explain away any report of animal behavior that suggests that animals act intentionally. He chooses one such incident of chimpanzee behavior (from Jane Goodall), which I cited in my book Practical Ethics, in order to argue for the view that animals can have intentions about what they will do at some future time.2 Goodall describes how Figan, a young chimpanzee, notices a banana that Goodall has placed in the branch of a tree, but then also sees Goliath, a higher-ranking chimpanzee, resting at the foot of the tree. Figan then moves away to the other side of Goodall’s tent, where he can no longer see the banana. Fifteen minutes later, when Goliath leaves, Figan immediately goes over and gets the banana. Goodall’s interpretation is that Figan deliberately removed himself from the scene because if he had either attempted to get the banana earlier, or remained nearby, eyeing the banana, Goliath would have noticed it and taken the fruit.

Leahy calls this account “intellectually relaxed” and says that if it is true, it would demonstrate self-consciousness and “rationality of a very high order indeed.” Since such a conclusion fits badly with Leahy’s view of the necessity of language for rationality and self-consciousness, he instead offers his own account, which begins:

Now Figan, seeing Goliath in close proximity, was scared out of his sight and with nothing better to do just hung around more or less losing interest in the banana.

One need go no further, for Leahy has already revealed how little he understands of the social life of chimpanzees. Lower-ranking chimpanzees are constantly in the company of higher-ranking members of their group. There is no reason at all for them to be “scared out of [the] sight” of a higher-ranking chimpanzee in close proximity, for high-ranking chimpanzees do not attack low-ranking chimpanzees who know their place. Yet while Leahy evidently knows little about chimpanzees, he characteristically presumes to correct a description written by someone who has observed chimpanzees for many years.

In any case, such incidents are far too common to be explained away. In one experiment, a chimpanzee named Julia was given two series of five locked transparent boxes, each of which opened with a differently shaped key. The last box in one series was empty; in the other series the last box contained a banana. The boxes from the two series were randomly placed among each other, except for two unlocked initial boxes. Given a choice between the two initial boxes, Julia was able to select the one that contained the key that opened the box that contained the key that opened the box…and so on, to the box that contained the banana. To do this Julia must have reasoned backward from her desired goal.3

Frans de Waal describes several more examples of reasoning about means and ends in his book Chimpanzee Politics.4 Two mothers, Jimmie and Tepel, are sitting under a tree while their children play in the sand. Mama, the oldest female of the group, lies asleep between the two mothers. Suddenly the children start screaming and fighting. Jimmie grunts at them, but the children go on fighting. Eventually Tepel pokes Mama in the ribs several times, and when she wakes up, points to the quarreling children. Mama takes a threatening step forward, waves her arms in the air, and barks loudly. The children stop quarreling, and Mama goes back to sleep. Why did Tepel poke Mama in the ribs, if not with the conscious intention of having her stop the children fighting? Yet since Tepel has no language, she could not, according to Leahy, have such an intention, nor could she undertake one act in order to bring about a goal distinct from it.

Leahy also says, after citing an appropriate passage from Wittgenstein to the effect that dogs cannot simulate pain, that animals do not have “even the capability of pretence, insincerity, and a whole range of other ‘mental’ attributes.” But De Waal often observed deliberate deception among chimpanzees. He cites the following incident. Dandy, a low-ranking chimpanzee, makes advances to a female in the typical chimpanzee fashion, sitting with his legs wide apart, revealing his erection. As Dandy does this, he restlessly looks around to see if any older males, who would not allow him to have intercourse, are watching. Luit, one of the older males, unexpectedly comes around a corner. Dandy immediately drops his hands over his penis, concealing it from view. Or, to take a different kind of deception, after Nikkie bit his rival Yoeren in a fight, Yoeren limps badly—but only when Nikkie is around. De Waal believes that Yoeren “wanted to make Nikkie believe that he had been badly hurt in their fight” because Nikkie would then be less hard on him.

Leahy can scarcely dismiss such instances as rare exceptions to an otherwise still valid thesis. Chimpanzees make a hole in his position wide enough for elephants—and dogs and pigs and animals of many other species, too—to walk through. Leahy’s approach has been built around a conceptual argument intended to show that a being without language must have a primitive mental life, lacking in capacities for deliberation, for meansend reasoning, for self-awareness, and for pretense. In the light of the clear evidence that beings who do not use language repeatedly act in the ways in which Figan, Julia, Tepel, Dandy, and Yoeren do, we must reject the doctrine that holds thinking to be so crucially dependent on language. With the rejection of this doctrine, however, the late-Wittgensteinian approach to language and thought must now be seen as fallacious. To maintain it, in the light of the convincing evidence to the contrary, is to place oneself in the position of the theologians who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

Vicki Hearne, author of Bandit, is an animal trainer rather than a philosopher. Like Leahy she is enthusiastic about Wittgenstein. Leahy, however, is decidedly unenthusiastic about the use to which Hearne put Wittgenstein in an earlier book, Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name.5 He describes “fanciful” the implications she there drew from animal behavior to the mental lives of animals, and “incredible” that she should have chosen Wittgenstein “as an ally for her aggressive anthropomorphism.” No doubt he would be even more incensed by Bandit, for in this book Hearne describes a dog as follows:

He has a mind, and as Stevens said, “It is never satisfied, the mind, ever.” No dog is like a computer, because for dogs as for people the literal use of the term “Sit” comes only after a period in which it invokes too much and is, some say, metaphorical. Means, perhaps, “Sitting here on the grass on an autumn afternoon just as the leaves start to fall and an hour before suppertime.”

Here the label “intellectually relaxed” might be apt. On the whole, though, I side with Hearne against Leahy—not about her knowledge of Wittgenstein, but about her knowledge of animals. Hearne’s livelihood—and sometimes her physical safety—depends on her ability to sense what an animal is about to do. It is significant that she succeeds by attributing quite complex thoughts and mental states to animals.

Bandit is, on one level, the heroic tale of how Hearne saved an allegedly dangerous dog from being put to death. But it is many other things as well. It is a description of how difficult it is to fight ignorant government officials. It is an account of how the press can distort truth in order to fan public hysteria about the terrors of “pit bulls.” At its most interesting, and notwithstanding Leahy’s denial that animals are capable of it, Bandit displays one way in which a human being and an animal can form a kind of partnership.

Bandit was the inseparable companion of Mr. Lamon Redd, an elderly black man living in Stamford, Connecticut. Bandit is not, Hearne tells us at somewhat tedious length, a “pit bull,”—he “might be an American bulldog”—but then the very use of the vague term “pit bull” is, in her view, part of the trouble, for it has given rise to a mythology about dangerous dogs. Bandit lived happily with Mr. Redd until one day the dog got involved in a domestic fracas next door, coming to the aid of his friend and neighbor, who was being hit with a broom by an angry girlfriend. Arguably, the fight was taking place on Bandit’s property, or at least on a common walkway between Bandit’s property and that of the neighbor. As a result of biting the neighbor’s girlfriend, seriously enough to put her in the hospital, Bandit had to spend time in the local pound while Mr. Redd, at considerable expense, built a fence around his property to keep Bandit in. But the time in the pound had changed Bandit, and he began to urinate on the front porch. For this Mr. Redd hit him, and then Bandit bit Mr. Redd. A neighbor called the police, and an order to have Bandit killed was issued. Hearne, well known as an expert in training animals, was called as an expert witness for the defense, and demonstrated that she could control Bandit. In the end the dog’s life was spared—but on condition that he remain in Hearne’s care.

Hearne insists, repeatedly, that she is not an advocate of animal rights. She disagrees with the stand that animal rights groups have taken against some of her trainer colleagues who, for example, teach orangutans to perform in Las Vegas nightclubs. Yet Hearne clearly also sees the story she is telling as, at least to some extent, a success story. In what, then, does the success lie? Not, obviously, in helping an elderly black American to keep his dog, for Bandit now lives with Hearne. Mr. Redd accuses Hearne of having taken his dog. Nor is he without his own view of why this has happened:

It’s just like in the South, the black man gets something good, the white man takes it away from him.

So the success can only lie in the fact that Bandit is still alive. This is indeed Hearne’s defense of the fact that Bandit now lives with her. For Bandit, the only alternative to living with her was a lethal injection. But why is it better that Bandit should be alive? After all, lethal injections are painless. By the standards of the traditional animal protection societies, there would have been no cruelty, no inhumane treatment, in putting Bandit to death. To regard saving Bandit’s life as worth the struggle, one has to see it as wrong to kill, unnecessarily, a being like Bandit, or better for Bandit to be alive than dead. But if saving Bandit is worth so much effort, is it not also worth some effort to prevent pigs and cows being treated with even greater disregard for their interests than dogs? It looks very much as if Hearne is closer to a position in favor of animal rights than she likes to acknowledge.

Keith Tester’s Animals and Society is not, as its title might suggest, a book about animals and their place in society, but a book about the people and forces he believes control the animal rights movement. Untutored souls might believe that the movement exists because many people have become persuaded, on the basis of ethical arguments, that we ought not to treat animals in the way in which they are currently treated. Tester, who teaches in the School of Social and Historical Studies at Portsmouth Polytechnic, in England, claims to see through such naiveté. He presents his finding in his own peculiar style: “I am not condemning animal rights because it is untrue, but I do think it is reasonable to criticise the enthusiasm to tell the world that the narrative is naturally given.” He goes on to say that he wants to tell “the militants and the philosophers” that “they are fetishistically upholding obligations which are made and not found.” He also says that animal rights is concerned with “the truth of animals” or “the truthful reality of animals.”

I find it difficult to make sense of such phrases. What would it be like to be concerned with the falsity of animals? In describing my own book, Tester says: “Animal Liberation asserts that the truth of animals is their ability to suffer on a morally equal basis to ourselves.” I would never have put it like that. I assert that animals (vertebrates at least, and probably some invertebrates too) can suffer. This seems to me true, in the straightforward sense in which it is true that I have ten fingers, although it is more difficult to prove. I also assert that this suffering should be given equal consideration to our own suffering; but this is a moral principle, and while I consider it justifiable and defensible, I am not in the habit of referring to it as “a truth” let alone “the truth” and most definitely not as “the truth of animals.” If Tester had read my book with an open mind he would have noticed that it includes the statement: “The principle of equality of human beings is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we should treat human beings.”6 The context makes it clear that the same applies to the principle of equal consideration of interests that I argue should be applied to both human and nonhuman animals. I would have thought it obvious that in saying that moral principles are prescriptions, I am suggesting that truth or falsity does not apply to them in the way it applies to descriptive statements.

Tester evidently sees himself as doing for the ideology of animal rights what Marx did for the ideology of capitalism. That is why he must attribute claims about “the truth” to all animal rights philosophers and activists. If supporters of animal rights were not in the grip of a fetishistic belief in the objective truth of their moral claims, there would be no ideology for the Marx of the animal rights movement to expose, no great discovery to be made about the human origins of what animal rights supporters take to be written in the fabric of the universe.

Tester never seems to appreciate that to show that ethical judgments—whether of animal liberationists or of anyone else—are human creations is a philosophical enterprise, demanding some investigation of the nature of morality and the role that reason can play in it. The case for the claim that ethics is a human creation has been made by philosophers from Protagoras to J.L. Mackie.7 Philosophers who write in support of animal rights are familiar with this tradition; many would consider themselves to be, to varying degrees, supporters of it. But Tester shows no interest in any philosophical inquiry into the nature of ethical argument; he merely repeats, over and over again, his contention that the morality of animal rights is a human construction, not an objective truth. Perhaps he thinks that we have all been won over to the sophomoric postmodernist assumption that everything is culturally relative, and so this has only to be said to gain acceptance. But then, is he claiming that the morality of animal rights is “made and not found” in some way that distinguishes it from the morality of women’s rights, or that of human rights in general? He never tells us.

Tester makes several other mistakes, indicating an alarming degree of ignorance about the subject of his book (which, perhaps even more worryingly, began life as a doctoral thesis at the University of Leeds). In a characteristically ill-formed sentence, he says, “[Animal rights] firmly slams the door between proper humans and animals by saying and practising the assertion that humans have no relationships with animals.” The claim that supporters of the animal rights movement in general hold that we have, or should have, no relationships with animals is absurd. Although a few members of the movement have expressed doubts about keeping animals as “pets,” many have strong relationships with companion animals. Others have created refuges where they give love and affection to abused and exploited animals, and others again want to reintegrate our lives with nature, so that our relationships with animals are ecologically harmonious and sustainable. The ideology of animal rights or animal liberation is opposed to exploitative relationships with animals, but not to all relationships with animals.

Because Tester wants to assert a sharp discontinuity between the traditional animal welfare movement and the modern animal liberation movement, he tells us, twice, that it is highly improbable that any of the founders of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were vegetarians. A little research would have shown that Lewis Gompertz, the second secretary of the society, and a driving force in its formative years, was a strict vegetarian who also refused to ride in horse-drawn carriages.8

Tester reveals his gross misconception of the nature of modern evolutionary theory when he misrepresents the sociobiologist E.O. Wilson as explaining altruism as “due to the evolutionary motivation of genes to defend and protect the species gene-pool.” Wilson, in common with every other sociobiologist, in fact explains altruism as an expression of long-term self-interest, the interest of kin, or possibly the interests of a small group; but never as an expression of the interests of the species as a whole, because selective pressures operating at the level of the individual are much more effective than those that operate between species.9

Tester also says that the philosophers of animal rights “are only really concerned with the animals which are most like us,” without saying in what way rabbits, rats, mice, pigs, battery hens, and mink are especially like us. These are the animals that suffer most in the forms of exploitation that are the chief targets of the animal liberation movement: laboratory testing, especially the Draize and LD50 tests, factory farming, and the fur industry. What matters to the animal movement, of course, is the capacity for suffering; no other aspect of being “like us” is relevant.

The upshot of Tester’s investigation of the animal rights movement is the startling finding that “animal rights is not about animals,” but rather is arguing “that if we construct a selfhood which is divorced from animals, we will become better humans.” To this I can only say that it is utterly at odds with my own experience of a movement in which I have been involved from the beginning. It is of course possible that the perspective of the sociologically trained outside observer enables Tester to see things that I, as a participant, am unable to see. But I doubt it.

This Issue

April 9, 1992