Barbara King: “She created a gem on the intelligence and personality of animals”

11 Mar 2019

Barbara J. King is professor emerita of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, where she taught for twenty-eight years. She is the author of How Animals Grieve and Evolving God, Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat and many others.

Barbara King is an excellent guide to the fascinatingly interesting world of animals. Her deep empathy embraces human and animal alike. Readers will be moved, provoked, and changed by reading her books.

Here you may read a few reviews on her book Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat:

“Barbara King has written a gem. With deft, lively writing, she guides us into the inner lives of the animals so often conveniently hidden from our view, and reveals why they deserve a place at the table, not on it. Personalities on the Plate should be read by everyone who eats, and especially the majority who eat others who had a life.”

(Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows)

“Of all the animals that we eat, fish are the species for which we have least compassion. Recent scientific research shows, however, that fish are smart and have personalities just like you and I. They have feelings and suffer pain, anxiety and stress. There is no reason to treat them any different from terrestrial farm animals. So of all the animals on our plate, fish perhaps most of all require a second thought. King’s thoughtful commentary on the intelligence and personality of the animals we eat will go some way to provoking these thoughts in her audience.”

(Culum Brown, author of Fish Cognition and Behavior)

“In Personalities on the Plate, Barbara J. King uses the latest discoveries about mental capacities and social lives of creatures from insects and chickens to chimpanzees and dogs to make the moral case against meat. Combining first-rate science with personal experience, this book offers a fascinating window into the minds of animals that will make readers think deeply about what they are going to eat for dinner tonight.”

(Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat)

“Whether we realize it or not, whether we want to or not, with every meal we eat, we choose who gets to live and who will die. We need to look this thrice-daily fact in the face and make decisions we can live with. Here to help us is the compassionate and lyrical voice of Barbara J. King. Never shrill, always revealing, often surprising and even funny, Personalities on the Plate is must reading for everyone who cares about animals, ethics and the earth.”

(Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus)

“This thoughtful book is not about whether we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ eat meat–but you’ll probably have your own conclusion at the end. Barbara J. King looks at the range of values surrounding farming and feasting, and at who we are considering eating. But King also shows that different approaches to meat and to animal farming can be viewed through different lenses, giving us a richer understanding.”

(Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel)

“As factory farming and meat consumption increase globally, Barbara King’s new book makes for crucial reading. Combining new scientific studies, personal experiences, and an honest, compassionate approach, King turns attention to the cognitive, social and emotional lives of species exploited for consumption. She puts firmly on the table the facts about animal sentience that omnivores would prefer not to think about. Brimming with ethological insights and boosted by anecdotes about individual animals (such as Ursula the pig, Mr Henry Joy the rooster, and Olive the octopus), there is no doubt that after reading Personalities on the Plate people will be compelled not just to rethink what to eat for dinner, but who they might be eating. That is a rigorously researched, eloquent, thoughtful and potentially life-changing book for all consumers of animals.”

(Annie Potts, University of Canterbury, New Zealand)



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