Hungry Beautiful Animals

The Joyful Case for Going Vegan

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By Matthew C. Halteman

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"This timely exploration of the profound impact of our dietary choices on both individual and collective flourishing is essential reading for anyone who eats."—Bryant Terry, James Beard award-winning author of Vegetable Kingdom

“This is a book of sacred truths, the kind of thing you read and your soul forever registers."—Kathy Freston, New York Times best-selling author of The Lean

A heartfelt, humane, and even hilarious account of why rule-obsessed veganism fails and how a focus on flourishing can bring about an abundant future for all


Perhaps you’ve looked at factory farming or climate change and thought, I should become a vegan. And like most people who think that, very probably you haven’t. Why? Well, in our world, roast turkey emanates gratitude, steak confers virility, and chicken soup represents a mother’s love. Against that, simply swapping meat for plants won’t work.  
 
In Hungry Beautiful Animals, philosopher Matthew C. Halteman shows us how—despite all the forces arrayed against going vegan—we can create an abundant life for everyone without using animals for food. It might seem that moral rectitude or environmental judgement should do the trick, but they can’t. Going vegan must be about flourishing, for all life. Shame and blame don’t lead to flourishing. We must do it with joy instead. 
 
Hungry Beautiful Animals is more than philosophy: it’s a book of action, of forgiveness, of love. Funny and wise, this book frees us joyfully to want what we already know we need. 
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  • “This is a book of sacred truths, the kind of thing you read and your soul forever registers what’s so.  There is poetry herein, and common sense, for sure; there is thorough academic exploration so that every word feels solid. But what is most enriching, the thing that will stay with you, is that Matt’s words feel like a gateway into our Better.  One gets the sense that the time is now, and we can rise to it.  And Matt is that seasoned, trustworthy guide to deliver us there.”
    Kathy Freston, New York Times best-selling author of The Lean
  • “Only Matt Halteman could have penned Hungry Beautiful Animals. Drawing from personal experiences and philosophical insights, this timely exploration of the profound impact of our dietary choices on both individual and collective flourishing is essential reading for anyone who eats. Halteman offers a fresh perspective on going vegan, one that doesn’t require you to give up your favorite foods or compromise your cultural traditions. Instead, Hungry Beautiful Animals invites us to embrace the beauty and abundance that vegan living can provide, not as a sacrifice but as a joyful celebration of life on this planet.”
    Bryant Terry, James Beard Award–winning author of Vegetable Kingdom
  • "This compelling read calls us to breathe into our humanity and to understand how our joy increases when we help bring joy to others. We are all connected, and anytime someone experiences kindness, whether human or more than human, our world is made better."
    Gene Baur, President and Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary
  • "Matt Halteman is a brilliant writer; the man could make a book about watching grass grown sing. So imagine what he can do with the topic that is more important to him than anything else in his life other than his family. Quite simply, Hungry Beautiful Animals is a spectacular read - profound and also funny, and among the most beautifully constructed books I’ve ever read. Read this book - you won’t be disappointed."
     
    Bruce Friedrich, President and Founder of The Good Food Institute
  • "Through storytelling, Matthew Halteman’s Hungry Beautiful Animals offers an array of positive reasons to choose vegan, from human rights to personal health, and importantly, provides a handful of ways to choose vegan. This deeply personal book is not only reader friendly and sprinkled with good humor, but vegan friendly—joyful encouragement to leave meat, dairy, and eggs off the plate."
    Lisa Kemmerer, author of Animals and World Religions and Eating Earth: Environmental Ethics and Dietary Choice
  • “Vegan advocacy is vitally important and urgently needed. It is also thorny terrain, which is why it needs eloquent, informed ambassadors, preferably with a sense of humor. Halteman delivers magnificently on all fronts. I utterly recommend this book!”
    Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows
  • "This book is remarkable. Halteman invites his readers into an engaging journey of reflection that will leave few unchanged. He sets aside the all-too-common dour and dutiful discussions of this territory in favour of a gentle and winsome invitation to see and feel the attraction of eating differently. I challenge you to read the first few pages with confidence that you’ll enjoy Halteman’s company until the end."
     
    David Clough, Chair in Theology and Applied Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK
  • “Welcome to Halteman’s affirming vision for all of us hungry beautiful animals. Settle into time with an author who believes in our ability to transform moral burdens into gifts of consciousness and lives of abundance. Park feelings of shame, guilt, or blame at the door—they aren’t needed here. Instead, in this readable, entertaining, evocative, and joyful book, Halteman offers us vulnerable, questing, caring animals a compass for our compassion and recipes for our individual and collective flourishing.”
    Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat
  • “Halteman is a brilliant, incisive thinker and gifted storyteller who writes gorgeous, sharp, vivid prose—page for page and sentence for sentence, not despite but amid sometimes grisly, subtle, and often hilarious observations about being human, his work is a total joy to read. But all of this is second to Halteman’s honesty—a rhetorical transparency and open-handedness so complete that his vulnerability in Hungry Beautiful Animals is nothing short of incandescent. His willingness to bare the most human of his shortcomings and failures, be they intellectual, spiritual, or personal—without guile, without defensiveness, and without advocating for any brittle or extreme ethical ground—is both inspiring and urgently important. Hungry Beautiful Animals is as much a gritty, get-real book about food ethics as it is a rigorous, unpredictable spiritual memoir and a gentle unfolding of increasingly difficult questions about what it means to be a person engaged in the process of examining their life.”
    Bonnie Nadzam, research fellow, Harvard Animal Law and Policy Program
  • "Hungry Beautiful Animals is the work of a seasoned philosopher and masterful storyteller. It is a deeply honest and intimate but also ebullient book. Halteman doesn’t try to argue the reader into anything, but instead uses indirection, humor, and story to make “going vegan” a salient (and joyful!) option for everyone. By the end, no gap remains between the feeling that one ought to do this and the feeling that one wants to."
    Andrew Chignell, Princeton University
  • "A visceral argument for the embrace of a joyous vegan lifestyle, advocating that we must alleviate the profound suffering of our fellow travelers on this journey through life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after."
    Christof Koch, author of Then I Am Myself the World
  • "Veganism is usually motivated by the awareness of disaster—animal cruelty, environmental degradation, avoidable health problems, and needless public health risks, at least. Matthew Halteman shows how we can be aware of these tragedies but not let them drag us down—we can respond in uplifting ways that promote meaning, happiness, connection, and love in ourselves and our many communities. He shares how going vegan is not only the appropriate response to many of the world’s greatest problems but can help us each become our best selves. Anyone looking to improve the world, and improve themselves, will find great inspiration and wise guidance in this book."
    Nathan Nobis, Morehouse College
  • "I read Hungry Beautiful Animals across three sittings in a single day. So much of what’s good about it will be apparent to any reader: its enthusiasm and empathy; its open-heartedness and open-mindedness; its welter (not pejorative!) of funny and helpful stories; its presentation of the complexity of the food system; its idea that because food is so important to so many memories and because animals are so important to food, animals are sites of nostalgia that a Tofurky for Thanksgiving doesn’t really help with; its presentation of vegan commitments as extensions of good ideas we learned in kindergarten; its arguments about shame and change and identity protection; the first sentence of every chapter. I enjoyed reading this sharp, funny, welcoming, helpful, and catholic invitation to going vegan."
    Tyler Doggett, professor of philosophy and graduate faculty of Food Systems, University of Vermont

On Sale
Nov 12, 2024
Page Count
304 pages
Publisher
Basic Books
ISBN-13
9781541602052

Matthew C. Halteman

About the Author

Matthew C. Halteman is professor of philosophy at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and fellow in the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, UK. He is the author of Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation and coeditor of Philosophy Comes to Dinner: Arguments About the Ethics of Eating. He lives in Grand Rapids.

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