Saturday, April 23, 2016

On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century, by Lee Hall: A Book Review

The first (and only) time I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lee Hall in person, was at the 2011 VegFest in San Francisco.
A friend and I sat in on Lee's talk in the main lecture hall. We found Lee to be as engaging as they are knowledgeable on the issues of animal liberation and the state of our planet.   
But, this was no feel good or warm and fuzzy presentation.  And to be honest, afterwards my friend and I had feelings of doom accompanied by a “it just seems hopeless” attitude.   This was no slight against Lee.  It was just that hearing in one sitting all the gory details of how we as humans have reeked such havoc on the Earth and all of its inhabitants, leaving so much death and destruction in our wake, was a lot to digest.

I have absolutely no regrets because it was worth it to hear and see one of my favorite activists in the vegan community.

Lee's work has always challenged me to think more critically about our relationship with animals and theirs with us.

So a few months ago when Lee asked if I would read a draft of their latest book and give my feedback, I felt honored.  Even more so when I learned that Lee would include my questions in the final draft when it was published. (In chapter six)

The book, On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century is an updated edition of the same title originally published in 2010.  The common thread throughout is one of uncommon respect for both the Earth and all its inhabitants.  I say uncommon because while the popular vegan slogan “why love one but eat the other?” comparing our pets (dog and cats) with animals raised for our consumption is compelling, Lee asks us to question whether it was ever right to do either?   

Lee makes a strong case for taking an active role in reversing the effects of centuries of selective breeding.  Universal neutering is presented as the most logical action to take, along with making the choice to breed no more.   Over time, this could enable their counterparts in the wild (like wolves and wildcats) to regain more of their original habitats lost due to domestication. 

While Lee concedes that much of our interaction with domesticated cats and dogs is positive and loving, there are still millions of them that end up abused, abandoned, or euthanized.  They are forever dependent and at our mercy because they’ve been bred that way. 

When it comes to farm animals, I hadn’t considered the negative consequences beyond the slaughter that awaits them at the end of their short lives. But they are not the only ones who suffer as a result of our appetites.  Those in the wild pay a high price as well.
From chapter one, page seven, “ …Meanwhile, free-living animals remain invisible. How do they stand a chance as long as we entitle ourselves to the lands on which they live, and they are not seen by us as having any such claims at all?”

Lee also questions the understandable feelings of outrage over factory farming and animal mistreatment as the motivation for going and remaining vegan and shares what else needs to be considered. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  If you are open to stepping out of your comfort zone and having your assumptions about animal rights and veganism challenged, you will not be disappointed.

To learn more about Lee' and their work, check out the links below..

Lee’s blog

with Priscilla Feral


  1. Excellent and thought-provoking book. Happy to see you are promoting it. Needs to get widely publicized.

    1. I agree Jack.
      Thanks so much for stopping by. :)