Food, Justice, and Animals

My second book, Food, Justice, and Animals: Feeding the World Respectfully, was published by Oxford University Press in 2023. You can read about the book on the Oxford University Press website here. You can find a discount code for ordering the book from the Oxford University Press website in this Tweet. Here is an abstract:

Imagine a zoopolis – a state that respects animals’ rights. What would the food system of the zoopolis look like? Ethicists typically assume that the zoopolis would be a vegan state. This book, however, argues that we can have our cow and eat her too – that we can respect animal rights while still having access to the animal-based foods we value. There are principled reasons that should lead us, as a matter of ideal theory, to be reluctant about fully endorsing plant-based food systems, even if animals have rights. These include concerns on both humans’ behalf and animals’ behalf. Consequently, if we could identify an animal-rights-respecting, but non-vegan, food system, the zoopolis should be ready to permit it, and even support it. What might this food system contain? This book explores non-sentient – unthinking, unfeeling – invertebrates, as well as those who may be non-sentient. It looks to highly realistic plant-based meats (and other plant-based ‘animal’ products). It considers cellular agriculture, which can produce animal products (such as cultivated meat or milk) with no or little animal involvement. And it asks if we could respectfully keep chickens for their eggs. Though a single book cannot show that a particular food system is the all-things-considered best, it does show that there are a range of reasons for us to believe that a non-vegan food system would be preferable to a fully plant-based system, even in a state that robustly protects animals’ rights.

You can watch a video of me presenting the arguments of the book at the 2022 Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law conference here, or a video of me presenting the arguments of the book (focussed on the chapter on plant-based meat) to the Culinary Minds Research Group at the University of Milan in 2022 here. I also wrote an accessible article for the magazine Persuasion setting out some of the core contentions of the book, which you can read here.

The book was a subject of an 2022 event called ‘Vegan Vs. Vegan’ hosted by the British Academy in London. The event took the form of a debate between me and Corey Lee Wrenn, hosted by Evanna Lynch. You can read Wrenn’s comments here. A workshop on the book (along with Anne Barnhill and Matteo Bonotti’s Healthy Eating Policy and Political Philosophy) was held at John Cabot University in Rome in 2022. It featured comments from Aurélia Bardon, Rossella De Bernardi, Gianfranco Pellegrino, Simone Pollo, Tom Bailey, and Valentina Gentile. A symposium partially based on this workshop is forthcoming in the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.