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The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald’s Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat Paperback – April 28, 2009


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The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald’s Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat + Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn + Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books; Reprint edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738213098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738213095
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a former city-dweller and self-described lesbian, Elvis-loving shepherd, Friend has a unique and intimate perspective on the morals, economics and practicalities of raising and eating meat humanely. With low-key, Midwestern humor, she takes readers on a tour of an abattoir, writes a love letter to her lambs heading for slaughter and relates how chivalry has been bred out of roosters. She delineates the differences between certified organic, certified humane, cage free, free range, and omega 3 eggs; the often-confusing nuances of organic, sustainable and conventional farming; and why, in her opinion, small farms are preferable to big ones. She encourages readers to get to know their local farms and provides questions to ask farmers and butchers about their produce. Readers interested in the subject will likely be familiar with Friend's overall treatment, but fostering a long-term commitment to the cause, she believes, is an act of respect that will affect the lives of the millions of animals raised in this country every year, and her suggestions are so reasonable that even the most rampant, mainstream meat-eater might consider trying them. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Most people relish eating meat. And Americans, with their hamburgers and their fried chicken, seem especially to appreciate the flavor of animal products. Yet, as Friend points out, few Americans want to be reminded that their pork chop came from a living, breathing animal whose wide eyes too easily engender sentimental anthropomorphization. Friend approaches her subject from the perspective of a farmer. She participates actively in raising lambs and ducks that eventually wind up on people’s tables, her own included. Given the environmental impact of animal husbandry, many people question if eating meat can be sustainable in this era of global warming. Friend cautiously replies in the affirmative but only if consumers become much more frugal, wasting as little as possible. She also finds problematic the intersection of agriculture and industrial mass production that reduces live animals to the status of widgets. She also tries to bring order to the deeply confusing world of “organic” farming. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

A former 'city girl,' Friend lives on a small farm in southeastern Minnesota, where she and her partner Melissa raise sheep and cattle. She writes adult nonfiction, fiction, and children's books.

"The Compassionate Carnivore" won the Minnesota Book Award in General Nonfiction. Her memoir, "Hit by a Farm," was selected by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the best books of 2006. Her children's picture book, "The Perfect Nest," was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of five best 'read alouds,' and was nominated for numerous state reading awards. She was awarded a Loft/McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers, and her adult adventure novels have won awards from the Golden Crown Literary Society and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Friend has a M.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Economics and Spanish. She does chores, teaches writing workshops, and speaks at libraries, yarn shops and fiber festivals, professional organizations, and schools. She's discovered that farm chores and snowshoes make Minnesota winters bearable, and is especially proud she's learned how to take the wool from her sheeps' backs and knit it into very cool socks.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Ubick on November 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading randomly selected reviews from five star to one star, and that grudgingly bestowed only because there is no option for negative stars. The controversy and the passion of these reviews indicated that the book would be well worth reading - and it is is. It is not a manifesto but a movingly written, shockingly and disturbingly honest account of Friend's own journey toward taking responsibility for whatever she puts into her mouth.

"The Compassionate Carnivore" has no place where anybody, whether vegan or omnivore, can rest in complacence or comfort. For the meat-eater who has never thought about the lives of farmed animals, distanced by the nice clean packaging of the meat, eggs, and dairy, revelation of the truth behind the way in which these animals live and die is bound to be deeply upsetting, and many will react with anger against the messenger. For the vegan, it may be too hard to accept that some people who eat animal products are not monsters, but real humans who struggle mightily with their consciences, and who are genuinely committed to eradicating cruelty to livestock both in life and in death. Again, the message will be rejected and the messenger vilified. Death is, of course, the sticking point. For people to whom death is the ultimate evil, there is no way to accept the premise that a person can truly care for her animals, cry all the way home from the slaughter facility because they're dead, and still not only deliver them up for slaughter but enjoy the meat afterwards. At this point it becomes a matter of religion, and Friend deserves both respect and compassion for her exposure of her own vulnerability, and her own discomfort over the facts that other animals (humans being animals too) are sentient to various degrees.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on April 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While Catherine Friend is an aspiring "Super-Compassionate Carnivore, able to leap over inhumanely raised meat in a single bound," she is better known as the award-winning author of the memoir, Hit by a Farm, epic adventure stories, and numerous children's books.

A perfect addition to any savvy consumer's library, The Compassionate Carnivore offers insight on methods of feeding, raising, and finishing animals. Since the mid-1990s, Friend and her partner, Melissa, have owned and operated a small sustainable farm in Minnesota and have learned first-hand "the impact modern agriculture has on animals, the environment, and [all of us]." In a comprehensive reader-friendly format, the author discusses timely topics, including nutrition, production, how animals live, reproduce and die, buying factory vs. non-factory meat, as well as how each person can make a difference. The book is filled with thought-provoking information, and all references are cited at the end. Friend explores what the meat industry, specifically super-sized "farms," cost consumers with respect to their health and their wallets.

The author fulfills her promise that "This will not be one of those cheerful self-help books that makes change sound so ridiculously easy...[and] at the other extreme, it's not intended to be one of those books about factory farming that's so depressing that you can't get out of bed for a week," in a practical way. She recommends taking one step at a time and not getting discouraged by minor setbacks, like eating pork from an inhumanely raised sow. Being a farmer greatly impacts the way she thinks about the meat she eats. She freely admits, "My path to becoming a compassionate carnivore has been paved with good intentions, but littered with the bones of pork-chop-on-a-stick.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Chris J. Kallin on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a 37yo barely-above-ignorant carnivore, engaged to a 27yo understanding vegetarian... a never-eaten-meat lifer whose vegetarian roots go back two generations. I read this book because I was looking for a non-scientific text to help me develop an approach that would make us both happy (not that we weren't already, but clearly I could be more sympathetic to her preferences as she has been with mine). Catherine Friend's book has helped bridge the gap in my understanding and equipped me to be compassionate not only to animals, but to my fiance as well. I recommend this book to anyone interested in developing a sense of responsibility where the consumption of meat is concerned. My life, my fiance's life, and the lives of the animals I choose to eat are better for it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lethological on June 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
It is convenient for people who want to prevent the eating of meat to pretend that there is no middle ground between living off of vegetables and biting the heads off of live chickens. Naturally, this isn't true. In any field of human action there are ethical issues to be considered. Even a vegan might choose to eat meat if stranded in an area where no seaweed supplements were available to prevent painful B12 deficiency.

Catherine Friend's book examines the ethical gradations of meat eating. There are obviously some modern farming techniques that are startling and disturbing. The reason that caged chickens or crowded cattle yards excite our sympathy is that chickens and cows are utterly helpless in the face of human ingenuity. But it wasn't always this way. At some point in our history (weak arguments about vegetarian cavemen aside) humans were eating meat without the benefit of superior strength, speed, thick-skin, or claws. At that point, the question was not whether it was ethical to eat meat, but whether it was possible to go without eating meat for more than a few weeks.

Vegans say there is no way to compassionately eat meat. Up until the 19th century, there was no way to successfully refrain from eating meat. Veganism was nutritionally impossible. Modern availability of a wide variety of crops has made it almost possible to create a vegan diet that is not dangerous to an adult's health, although vegan parents have killed their children through malnutrition. So if it is impossible to compassionately be a meat eater, then up until 1900 no compassionate human beings had ever existed on the face of the earth who were not suffering terrible health defects. This is obviously absurd.

Centuries from now, it may be that none of us have the option of eating meat.
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