The best books about intensive animal farming

Many authors have picked their favorite books about intensive animal farming and why they recommend each book.

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By Melissa Shapiro, MIM Eichler Rivas,

Book cover of Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family

Knowing I have a deaf dog, a reader sent me this non-fiction book, thinking I’d enjoy it. She was right! The author is very open and honest about the challenges she faced taking on a dog who was not only deaf but also blind. It was incredibly heartwarming to see Piglet grow from a fearful pup into an icon who inspires schoolchildren - and adults! - to adopt a can-do attitude. I liked that the author raised issues of animal welfare in the book, including the unfair treatment of animals used for medical experiments as disposable equipment and the horrific treatment of animals in factory farming. The book addresses many aspects of the human relationship to other creatures, and what we owe to animals who are at our mercy. 

Who am I?

Being “mommy” to a deaf dog has taught me so much about canine disabilities, and how intelligent and capable dogs can be despite their limitations. I enjoy reading about other people who have gone through similar experiences with their dogs. These animals don’t let their disabilities stop them from leading full, fun lives. With their determination and positive attitudes, disabled dogs make wonderful role models!

I wrote...

Paw Enforcement (A Paw Enforcement Novel, 1)

By Diane Kelly,

Book cover of Paw Enforcement (A Paw Enforcement Novel, 1)

What is my book about?

Officer Luz is lucky she still has a job after tasering a male colleague where it counts the most. He had it coming - which is why the police chief gives Megan a second chance. The catch? Her new partner can’t carry a gun, can’t drive a cruiser, and can’t recite the Miranda Rights. Because her new partner is a big furry police dog. So that’s what the chief meant when he called Megan’s partner a real b*tch … 

The two alpha females form a formidable pack. It’s a good thing, too, because someone’s been planting bombs around town and it’ll take expert crime-solvers to sniff out the lawbreaker. Can this doggedly determined K-9 team catch the bomber before it’s too late?

Practical Ethics

By Peter Singer,

Book cover of Practical Ethics

There’s a common prejudice that philosophy has nothing to do with the world in which non-philosophers live. I read Practical Ethics as an undergraduate and it came as a revelation. In crystal-clear prose, and with compelling logic, Singer addresses many issues in applied morality – abortion, capital punishment, charity, animal rights. Although some of his conclusions are radical, they’re hard to dissent from. Not long after reading the book I became a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat since.

Who am I?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

I wrote...

Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

By John Eidinow, David Edmonds,

Book cover of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

What is my book about?

On October 25, 1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, England, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face to face for the first and only time. The meeting did not go well. Their loud and aggressive confrontation became the stuff of instant legend. But precisely what happened in those ten minutes remains the subject of intense disagreement. Almost immediately rumors spread around the world that the two great philosophers had come to blows, armed with red hot pokers. What really went on in that room? And what does the violence of this brief exchange tell us about these two men, modern philosophy, post-war culture, and the difference between global problems and logic puzzles?

As the authors unravel these events, your students will be introduced to the major branches of 20th-century philosophy, the tumult of fin-de-si cle Vienna--the birthplace of Popper and Wittgenstein, the events that led to the Nazi takeover of Austria, and Cambridge University, with its eccentric set of philosophy dons, including Bertrand Russell, who acted as an umpire at the infamous meeting.

Eating Animals

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Book cover of Eating Animals

What is the meaning of life? We could take the question further by disposing of our blinkers and asking, what is the meaning of the other lives that may not look like ours? These lives consist of the millions of animals who die in the factory farms built to conceal their suffering and turn them into fungible objects, not lives. Safran’s book is an eye-opening exposition of how we have enslaved animals for food that we don’t even need in the 21st century—damaging ourselves and the environment in the process. One meaning of life: the value of letting other lives have meaning too.

Who am I?

As a professor of Classics at the University of Chicago, I’m conditioned to inquire into the meaning of life! But also, I was raised in many different countries and cultures—the UK, Iran, Fiji, Indonesia, Switzerland, the US, plus recent stints studying in China—so I’ve sampled a stewpot of worldviews. The result is that I have a passion for this topic. But I am no truth-telling guru myself (except that I know that dogs are GOOD). I can only speak about the meaning of life for me and hope it will make sense to others. These books have helped me construct that meaning.

I wrote...

The Aeneid

By Virgil, Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer (translator),

Book cover of The Aeneid

What is my book about?

A fresh and faithful translation of Vergil's Aeneid restores the epic's spare language and fast pace and sheds new light on one of the cornerstone narratives of Western culture. "The best version of the Aeneid in modern English: concise, readable and beautiful, but also as accurate and faithful to Vergil's Latin as possible." --James J. O'Hara, George L. Paddison Professor of Latin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Animal Liberation

By Peter Singer,

Book cover of Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement

Few books have had as great an impact on how humans think of our fellow creatures as has Singer’s Animal Liberation. In exploring the ways in which humans treat other animals—including, with utter honesty, the ways in which we have treated the animals that we intend to consume—Singer’s aim was to stir “emotions of outrage and anger, coupled with a determination to do something about the practices described,” as he writes in the preface to the book. To my great shame, I confess that, for some years after I read the book in the early 1990s, I resisted the impulse to “do something about the practices described.” But the message stuck with me and kept nagging away; finally, some four or five years later, I began to speak out against factory farming—and to change my diet.  

Who am I?

Like just about everyone, I was taught in childhood that we should think of others and help others. But then we start to hear different messages: “it’s naïve to think you can make the world a better place,” “you’re better off trying to help yourself—don’t waste your time with misguided attempts to help others,” "it’s sanctimonious to be a do-gooder,” and on and on it goes. The fact is, we can help to make the world a better place (without being sanctimonious). And we all should. We can volunteer, donate to good causes, eat less meat (or no meat at all), fly and drive less (or not at all!). And, as these authors have shown, the books we write can also make a real contribution.  

I wrote...


By Don LePan,

Book cover of Animals

What is my book about?

Animals is set in an indeterminate future in which virtually all the species that humans have for millennia used as food have become extinct; the world it creates is at once eerily foreign and disturbingly familiar.

“As gripping as it is important, LePan's brilliant novel tackles the largest moral issue of our time.” -Jonathan Balcombe, author of Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals


By Alex Blanchette,

Book cover of Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm

Did you know a single pig can be made into one thousand different products? This ethnography explores the ways humans extract profit from hogs, and simultaneously it is a commentary on the effects of industrialization. I thought I knew the problems with factory farming, but clearly I had only a surface understanding. Plus, rather than just dismissing humans as driven by craven or evil intentions, Blanchette is able to express compassion for the humans who are caught up in these systems of animal exploitation.  I learned so much about thinking and writing about animals and humans from reading this book. A flawless ethnography.   

Who am I?

I’m a sociologist and professor. I’ve written several books about human and animal intersections. From bees to horseshoe crabs to spider goats, I’ve channeled my childhood fascination with animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates, into research projects. Over the past two decades, I use qualitative research methods that put me in direct contact with multiple different species, gently handling the animals as a way to get to know them and understand them. I’m particularly interested in how humans make animals meaningful as companions, research subjects, raw materials, and living factories. I believe we must move past our own speciesism, or our biases that reify human superiority, to fully embrace living in a multispecies world. 

I wrote...

Our Transgenic Future: Animals, Genetic Modification, and the Will to Change Nature

By Lisa Jean Moore,

Book cover of Our Transgenic Future: Animals, Genetic Modification, and the Will to Change Nature

What is my book about?

The process of manipulating the genetic material of one animal to include the DNA of another creates a new transgenic organism. Several animals, notably goats, mice, sheep, and cattle are genetically modified. In Our Transgenic Future, I consider what such scientific advances portend. I center the story on goats that have been engineered by the US military and civilian scientists using the DNA of spiders and I interweave my own story of using assisted reproductive technologies to have children. Our Transgenic Future focuses on how these goats came into existence and the researchers who maintain them. I also explore larger science of transgenics and synthetics. 

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