The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973

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Review by Tim Beaumont of
The Moral Status of Animals
by Stephen R.L. Clark

Review in the Catholic Herald dated 12 October 1984:

The reader with a soft spot for animals will pick up this book with eager anticipation. First issued by the Oxford University Press as a hardback in 1977, and written by a distinguished Christian Professor of Philosophy, it is guaranteed not to be another of the rather hysterical books on animal welfare, more heart than head, which flood from the publishers these days.

But the reader is in for a rude shock. It is indeed a well-thought out book and he will pursue the first two chapters with approval. But then he will find that the argument has led him into a discussion of vegetarianism and there the book stays. The Whole Status of Animals, Professor Clark declares, demands that you do not eat them!

I suspect that when they realise this a lot of people who, like me, are omnivores will lay the book aside. If they wish to continue with their accustomed diet they will be wise. For, with sledgehammer blows and at times, not without acrimony, the author will demolish the arguments they have always relied on (if they have seriously thought about the matter at all).

Michael Frayne once divided people into "herbivores or gentle ruminants who look out from their lush pastures, which are their natural station in life, with eyes full of sorrow for less fortunate creatures, guiltily conscious of their advantages, though not usually ceasing to eat the grass" and "the carnivores who believe that if God had not wished them to prey upon all smaller and weaker creatures without scruple he would not have made them as they are".

This is a brilliant and most disturbing book. Be warned.

Tim Beaumont

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