The animal rights & welfare movement is a bit different from all other social causes. The victims of this cause no way to speak up for themselves. They cannot voice their opinions, tell there stories of suffering & injustice, or form alliances & groups for demanding change.
So ultimately, animals depend on us human activists to represent their interests in a world that doesn’t even view them as equal creatures but mere products.
So we have a responsibility ot dour our homework & be our best possible version when we step out there in the field. It follows that the more prepared we are, the more effective we will be in our outreach campaigns.
We’ll not only be able to come up with stronger arguments, but by understanding what really ticks people, we’ll be able to better address their concerns & appeal to their emotions, ultimately making a bigger impact.
As such, keeping ourselves updated with the correct facts & figures is the first step in becoming a communicator who can inspire, educate, and move people to make ethical choices, whether its shifting to a vegan diet, or walking away from circuses & zoos.
Now there are several resources out there to gain expertise on animal-related topics: from short YouTube videos (e.g. Erin Janus’ Cow industry expose) to entire feature-length movies (eg. . Cowspiracy film).
But none of these pieces can compete with the level of detail & holistic information that a book can provide. Books are, after all, the most comprehensive & timeless medium we’ve ever developed to store & transfer knowledge. So if you want to dive deep into any topic, a library is the best place to begin.
On that note, here are some essential books that every aspiring animal lover should read if they wish to play a big role in the movement.
If you’re a student, you can download most of them for free on any of these websites, but if you have the money, do consider buying the official copy to support the authors.
This seminal award-winning title by Peter Singer (1975) provides a basic framework for how to think about our movement.
Considered the Bible of Animal Rights, it references several scientific works & notable titles that came before it, patiently distilling all the arguments into concise chapters that’ll give you a detailed enough crash course without boring you to death.
Open it at all costs!
Exhausting but fully self-sufficient, Tom Regan’s title (1983) is the absolute gold standard of arguments written in support of non-human beings. It was penned decades ago, but is still considered the most rock-solid academic theory on the subject to date.
It simply can’t get any better.
Regan surgically disamantles every humanly imaginable case for using or abusing animals from an ethical standpoint, and forms a long but foolproof defence of animals that has been used as a standard framework by hundreds of newer authors, celebrities, activists, and NGOs worldwide.
The book is heavy to digest so you’ll take a month to work through the pages, but the cathartic revelations towards the end are totally worth the peril!
Don’t bother highlighting anything because every single line is pure art.
Written in a non-linear format by Marc Bekoff (1998), this is like a mini-dictionary that’ll give you glimpses of the various landmark moments in the struggle. The content is factual but brief, so you’ll find it more useful if you also google & to learn more on the topics in detail as you move along.
Overall, it’s a good gift to give to young animal lovers who would enjoy a viual & concise approach rather than full-length textbooks.
Written by Dr Melanie Joy, who coined the trendy term “carnism,” this 2009 title is a modern take on our treatment of animals from a psychological point of view.
Dr Joy explores the reasons behind why we treat different animals differently, some as companions, and others as food.
The insights you gain from this book will help you be more empathetic towards your non-vegetarian peers, and it’ll also teach you how to persuade them for trying animal-free alternatives.
Many vegans get frustrated when people don’t respond well to their pleases. But the ridicule or trolling is often a defensive reaction.
If we want others to open up, we may have to make some compromises & take tactical decisions, which may not coform with our ethics but will ultimately make a bigger practical impact for animals – which should be our only goal.
So in his debut title (2017), Tobias Leenaert outlines a “pragmatic” approach towards building the metaphorical Veganville, our dream destination as animal lovers.
Many Gen-Zs are switching to animal-free, plant-based diets for health & medical reasons, so that’s one angle we should be using at the forefront in our campaigns.
Because it really doesn’t matter why people stop using animals, as long as they do that, so if health is a big factor in the new generations’ decisions on diet & lifestyle, we must target it more often.
Michael Greger M.D and his peers lay the foundation of vegan diets in their 2015 title, first explaining why our current diets are the root cause of early deaths & diseases, and then providing scientific evidence on how plant-based food can help in reversing/preventing major ailments.
Overall, it’s the go-to book if you’re looking for authoritative proof on the health angle of animal-free living.
In his 2009 title, a former meat eater Jonathan Foer reflects on what made him make the switch. He takes us through the world of industralized farming, exposing many of the inhuman practices that go on inside.
Anyone who picks it up may feel like they’ve been made to stand in front of a mirror, as all their cultural habits & traditions are put to the ultimate ethical test for the greater good.
Part memoir and part investigative report, Foer’s masterpiece is considered one of the most enlightening & updated accounts of modern animal welfare issues. It’s deeply philosophical, self-aware, and yet, so enthralling that you’ll not want to read it all in one strech.
Originally published in 1985, this anthology may be considered a sequel to Singer’s Liberation. This time, he comes back with an entire team of thinkers, each of whom contribute their expertise & ideas to this juicy & riveting anthology.
The updated version also contains a section called “Ten Tips for Activists,” taking the reader beyond ethical theory and into the day-to-day campaigns for animal rights.
You’ll find the essays succint & well-woven together by the prolific Editor, perfectly fitting a a companion for a long train ride or a layover at the airport.
In his 2007 release, Mark Hawthorne examines a several strategies for animal activism used by local communities in countries such as Oceana, Canada, South Africa, UK, and US.
This is perhaps the most practically useful title on our list because it focuses solely on the real methods used by experienced leaders to bring about real change in legislation, lifestyles, and industry.
So if you like to get your hands dirty, this should be your one hell of a treat.
This isn’t an animal-related book in any way, but is an essential textbook on good communication.
Written way back in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, the title has survived ages, and millions of readers still swear by the simple persuasion techniques detailed by the author.
You’ll need a group of allies & followers to make a difference for animals, so building good relationships is an undetachable part of the story, and Carnegie’s insights will make you an instant master on the topic.
In this list, we covered 10 essential books that all animal activists should read at least once in their lifetime. The titles are:
- Animal Liberation
- Case for Animal Rights
- Encyclopedia of Animal Rights & Animal Welfare
- Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows
- How to Create a Vegan World
- How Not to Die
- Eating Animals
- In Defense of Animals: The 2nd Wave
- Striking at the Roots
- How to Win Friends & Influence People
Have you read any of these books before? What are some of your favourite ideas? And did we miss a good one that should be included on this list? Let’s chat in the comments below!
All said & done, remember that knowledge never goes to waste, so keeping yourself updated with the crucial facts & arguments will go a long way in helping you communicate our message more confidently, creatively, and above all, effectively.