Author: Victoria Anna Thompson
Publisher: Arcadia An Imprint of Australian Scholarly Publishing
Readership: Animal lovers & humanitarians – there are very many of them, of all ages, and found everywhere willing to bring about change. The author gives us solutions for a kinder world.
Cover design: Photos of Smoke and Kaos from Aninal Soul by Robert Bahou
Purchase online: scholarly.info, at bookshops & Amazon.
‘This book will save lives—human and animals.’ Victoria Thompson is a passionate advocate for the protection of animals from great harm. She movingly describes our appalling failures in this regard and praises those who press for the enlightened awareness and humane treatment of animals. She believes profoundly that we must not continue to think of animals as just resources to exploit—for animals too have a right to live naturally. And she gives us solutions for a kinder world.
“Victoria Anna Thompson’s passionate response to the immense suffering of animals is an inspiration. There is probably nobody more deeply outraged by cruelty to animals as Victoria. You should buy the book for the amazing story of Chrysalis a lab rat. I won’t spoil it, you have to read it. I just loved that story!”
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Review by Irina Dunn
‘I believe that no Australian has produced such a comprehensive argument by an Australian for the humane consideration of animals since Peter Singer published his book Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals in 1975, a work that is considered one of the movement’s foundational documents, and argues that the interests of humans and animals should be given equal consideration.
Victoria has researched a huge amount of material from all parts of the globe to produce this heart-wrenching manuscript documenting the appalling treatment humans mete out to animals in the production of food, clothing, household products, medicinal prescriptions, industrial uses and many others.
Her manuscript is a real ground-breaker and may well become the new bible for those seeking to protect our fellow species from horrifying torture and even extinction.
It gives the millions of individuals and organisations fighting for the cause of animals the information needed to change the way we regard animals, to respect them and care for them and recognise that they have a right to live their lives in peace and not be regarded just as resources for humans.
Victoria presents the cruelties practised against animals in most countries of the world, including, of course, Australia.
However, Victoria also presents readers with many ways in which they might assist the cause, from joining and donating to organisations, informing themselves, becoming vegan and demonstrably protesting against the vile practices routinely employed against our innocent fellow creatures.
Thus her book deals with wide-ranging topics related to the treatment of animals, including health, nutrition and the environment, as well as dealing with the social aspect – how the book gives us solutions for a kinder world which can change the way children and women are treated. As Victoria writes, “This book will save lives—human and animals”.
Victoria has been an animal rights advocate for many years. She is involved in saving animals from suffering.
Her sources, listed by chapter in the back of the manuscript, indicate a wealth of her research and knowledge about the subject, while the comprehensive index will help readers, especially students and researchers, navigate the complex thicket of the subject.
Review by Harry Oldmeadow
The governing theme of Victoria Thompson’s book is stated in the Prologue: “For too long, our civilisation has lived on the immense suffering and slaughter of animals. This in turn has led to a world where we see endless violence perpetrated against humans and the environment because all things are bound together”. That “immense suffering and slaughter” takes place daily all over the planet can hardly be contested. Thompson, informed by prodigious research, provides a frightful conspectus of the contemporary global situation.
Animals are Us is structured in three parts: “The Connection”, “The Cruel Countries” and “To a Kinder World”. The first explores the intimate inter-relationships of the human and animal kingdoms, and applauds the efforts being made by individuals, organisations and institutions to remedy the many abuses which have for so long disfigured modern civilisation, particularly since industrialisation facilitated new barbarities on an unprecedented scale. “The Cruel Countries” examines a multitude of examples of wanton cruelty, rapacious commercial exploitation, and cynical corporate and governmental behaviour in which greed, moral delinquency and hypocrisy are the order of the day. Thompson’s survey ranges far and wide: lion farms and trophy hunting in Africa, callous military and scientific “experiments” in America and elsewhere, Australia’s live export trade, the “blood farms” of Uruquay and Argentina, China’s dog-meat industry, the illegal global traffic in wildlife, the slaughter of whales and dolphins in Scandinavia, the untold suffering justified in the name of “sport” and “recreation” … an apparently endless and horrifying catalogue of systematic violence and cruelty, sometimes of a quite fiendish kind. The third part of the book explores the ways in which we, both as individuals and through agencies and organizations committed to the cause, can effect radical change to bring about a more compassionate world for all living beings.
The author recruits the support of many eminent thinkers (philosophers, writers, artists, activists, mystics, scientists and sundry celebrities among them), often quoting their disturbing insights and melancholy reflections. The appearance of such figures as Mahatma Gandhi, Peter Singer, the Dalai Lama, St. Francis, Brigitte Bardot, the Buddha and Jeffrey M. Masson is not surprising. But I was pleased to discover that all sorts of public figures, past and present, have been ardent advocates for animal welfare, many of them anticipating the themes which Thompson elaborates in this book. A small sample of suggestive quotations:
When I think of the suffering of animals through the centuries it is more than I can bear… Love for all living creatures is the most notable attribute of man. Charles Darwin
For as long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of other living beings, he will never know health or peace. Pythagoras
As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields. It is only one step from the murder of animals to the murder of humans. Leo Tolstoy
There is not an animal on the earth, nor a flying creature on two wings, but they are people like unto you. The Qur’an
If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. Paul Macartney
One of my own favourite passages comes from the French writer Romain Rolland (a surprising absentee from the book): “To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.” Let us, rather, join Zola in saying, “The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous”.
One need not agree with all of the author’s premises nor always be persuaded by her arguments to be impressed by her research and moved by her righteous anger. Animals Are Us should shame us into taking action to prevent the horrors we have everywhere visited on innocent animals who are unable to speak for themselves. Most of us are not ill-disposed towards animals but through our wilful ignorance, our indifference, our moral lassitude, we are complicit in the crimes which are inherent in the contemporary capitalist-consumerist culture which has spread like a plague over the whole planet. After reading this book we might well dwell on William Wilberforce’s observations about the exposure of another great evil which persisted for far too long: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you didn’t know”.
The author furnishes a comprehensive list of her sources; this constitutes a compendium of the literature, audio-visual material, organizations and websites devoted to the issues with which this book is so fiercely engaged. This is a valuable resource for readers looking for ways in which we might move beyond mere sentimental outrage in our efforts to eradicate, or at least mitigate, the evils which this book so graphically exposes.
In the Prologue Thompson explains the absence of photos depicting the endless humiliations and villainies inflicted on animals: these images would, for many readers, be unbearable. It takes courage and resolve to expose oneself to such suffering, to bear the unbearable, to stand witness to those myriad atrocities to which most of us turn a blind eye. This is the heroic and noble task to which Victoria Thompson, at no small personal cost, has devoted the last eight years of her life. Animals Are Us is the bitter-sweet fruit of her labours; bitter in its unflinching and deeply distressing confrontation of many evils, sweet in its hope for a world in which, through a “turning-about” in our relations with animals, we might find our better selves. It is a brave exposé of the hideous abuses through which we perpetrate needless suffering, defacing ourselves and our planetary home. It is also an inspiring manifesto of the hope that a radical re-ordering of our relations with animals will help us rediscover our essential humanity. Animals Are Us is a powerful book, a passionate plea on behalf of all our friends who live on the earth, fly in the sky and swim in the sea.
This is Victoria’s fourth published book. Losing Alexandria was a best-selling memoir, City of Longing a novel about Gilbert de Botton, and The Secret Seduction and the Enigma of Attraction inspired by Goethe’s Elective Affinities.
Harry Oldmeadow was formerly Coordinator of Philosophy and Religious Studies at La Trobe University Bendigo. The most recent of his many books is Against the Tide: Sketches of Modern Christian Thinkers (2022).
Review by John Bergdoll
I’ve had the privilege of reading the first chapter of Victoria Thompson’s book, ‘Animals Are Us’ and I’m finding it to be a compelling and interesting read. Check it out on Amazon, bookstores and EBook. Victoria Thompson is a Vegan Ripple Effect member.
Victoria shares many accounts of animals expressing a remarkable range of emotional intelligence. She tells of intimate portrayals of animals and how they share a wide range of elevated sentient emotions such as love, sadness, compassion and loyalty largely, erroneously and egotistically thought to be exclusively human. It’s been long ignored by even the scientific community that our diminishing cohabitants who surround us are also sentient. We share the planet. We share its resources. And we share complex emotions.
I’d venture to say that not all animals behave in an extraordinary manner at all times as is found with humans but similar to humans, their capacity for emotions cannot be ignored.” – John Bergdoll, Vegan Ripple Effect
5 stars, An Eye Opener
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on 15 January 2023
This is a surprising book—not at all what I expected. It begins with a conference of scientists. They called it The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness—and concludes that animals are like us. Our thoughts need to extend to all sentient beings, who like us feel pain, humiliation, fear, sadness, anxiety, joy, love, jealousy, embarrassment, disappointment, despair, grief, feelings of friendship, exuberance, amusement, depression, pleasure, compassion, relief, respect and a range of other feelings and sensations. They show us that there is a thinking, feeling, complex creature there.
The author has shown great courage in exposing herself so deeply in her research to impart an awareness of the endless cruelty to animals throughout the world to satisfy our needs. There were some parts of this book I had to skim over which I wish I had been braver to read, especially when considering the depths to which the author has gone to bring us this incredible piece of work. She goes into China’s dog and cat meat trade and the illegal global traffic in wildlife, trophy hunting and lion farms in Africa, the blood farms of Uruguay and Argentina, so much more. There are the quotes from great writers and thinkers. Pythagoras: “For as long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of other living beings, he will never know health or peace… ” Charles Darwin: “When I think of the suffering of animals throughout the centuries, it is more than I can bear.” And to Ricky Gervais: “Animals are not here for us to do as we please with. We are not their superiors; we are their equals.”
The author writes about the damage to the environment and extinction of wildlife. Billions of animals are killed each year. A meat eater will have consumed about 6,000 animals in their lifetime. There’s an excellent chapter on health—and a list of diseases connected to our diets—and how we can heal. The list of viruses from the animals in wet markets and human interference in their lives is endless—from AIDS to Covid 19. She does bring us hope and in her final chapter “We can be Heroes – A guide” she gives us information on how we can all make a difference in our own small ways to bring a change. An amazing eye opener, well written, insightful and thought provoking – I highly recommend it.