"Review: Animal Liberation Now – Peter Singer (Penguin Random House)
In March, the ABC aired a story showing footage of pigs in Australian abattoirs
being stunned with carbon dioxide before having their throats cut. Packed into
small, gas-filled chambers, these animals could be viewed writhing, gasping and
screaming in distress, some foaming at the mouth.
The pigs’ suffering was not an aberration; it is what countless pigs around the
world commonly endure before being turned into ham and bacon. Such media
exposés reveal how far we have – and have not – come since Australian
philosopher Peter Singer published the seminal book Animal Liberation
50 years ago.
Some features of this news story are testament to Animal Liberation
influence on the animal rights movement, vegetarianism, and society generally.
Like Ruth Harrison’s Animal Machines
(1964), Singer’s book, first published
in 1975, opened eyes to society’s almost endless exploitation of animals.
The footage of the gassed pigs used in the ABC story was obtained by a member
of one of the many animal organisations that have emerged since Animal
appeared. While such footage might once have been ignored, it made
it to national prime-time television and was labelled “distressing” by
Australia’s agriculture minister.
, regarded as the “bible” of the animal rights movement, is
one of Time magazine’s all-time top 100 non-fiction books.
Yet the revelations about the gassed pigs also illustrate the limits of Animal
’s impact to date.
Some Australian states, like some other jurisdictions, recently enacted
“ag-gag” laws to prevent activists filming farmed animals’ suffering. And while
the aired footage caused horror, there was no promise to immediately halt the
carbon dioxide stunning method – let alone to phase out industrial pig
A pork industry representative still felt able to admonish the activist for
“putting stress on our animals”.
Animal Liberation Now: The Definitive Classic Renewed
is an expanded, more
comprehensive revision of Singer’s classic book. The title reflects his latest
assessment of the state of animal rights."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics