A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a book that changed someone else’s life. They then shared it with someone else, who shared it with me and that is how I became aware of Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals
As soon as I was introduced to the book, I knew I wanted to read it. Or perhaps better yet, I knew I had to read it. The book “Thanking the Monkey” is a book that explores both the rights of animals and the unspeakable fates that come their way from every angle in society today, mostly due to the demand consumers drive for animals products.
It lays out in detail, every animal pretty much that is impacted upon by humans for food, clothing, entertainment and laboratory testing. And being the fact that I can put myself in the category of “vegan” – I felt I wanted to be educated more on the topic which was one of my 3 reasons for giving up eating all animal products – the treatment of the animals.
Well I read the book and if I hadn’t been where I am today, I would have been writing to you today, to tell you that it too changed my life. The book was highly educational and filled with facts that every single person out there who consumes animal products should known about. It is time we stop running from the truth and start facing the reality we have created.
So perhaps my life has already been changed enough, by omitting the consumption of animal products, but this book opened my eyes even wider and made me conscious of more than just food when it comes to animals, let’s just say.
And so now I want to pass on the favor and share with you a book, that may just change your life, and if nothing else, empower you with knowledge of how each of your actions may impact life on our planet. It is the truth, perhaps a bit of an inconvenient truth – but a truth of where things stand when it comes to how we treat animals today, nonetheless.
Thanking the Monkey: The Origin
“Thanking the Monkey” is a new book published in 2008, which approaches animal rights in the most gentle and loving, yet firm and real type of way. It is almost 400 pages that revolve around animals as pets, animals in the entertainment industry, animals in our diet, animals in our clothing, animal impact on the environment and animals in the laboratory.
“Thanking the Monkey” was written by Karen Dawn. Karen was born in the United States and grew up in Australia. She did several different jobs in her life, including being a news researcher, until she read the book Animal Liberation. After this moment Karen decided to dedicate her efforts and devote her time to those most abused and helpless in society – the animals.
Karen is the founder of the animal advocacy media watch called DawnWatch.com and has appeared on many shows, both television and radio as a spokesperson for this cause. Her life currently is based on the passion and dedication that she feels for and to the animals and hence the highly educational, entertaining and heart wrenching book, “Thanking the Monkey” was born.
Thanking the Monkey: The Structure
“Thanking the Monkey” begins with a short biography about Karen and then jumps right into 8 outstanding chapters that are each filled with logic, humor, humility and reality from the perspective of how our actions impact the animals, ecosystems and life on Earth as a whole.
The layout is phenomenal and fun to read, with lots of laugh-out-loud funny cartoons and special excerpt layouts from famous stars and other people in the media talking about some of the topics she writes about. It is colorful, very reader-friendly and applicable for age groups that start as early as the teens. Karen brilliantly balanced a serious topic with character and wit, that does not scare off the audience.
Here are the 8 chapters that the book is divided into and a little synopsis of each one:
Chapter 1 – Welcome to the World of Animal Rights
In this first chapter, an introduction to the world of animal rights is given, that clarifies for the reader what this area really does, what it means and what different advocates who work in this area are really all about.
Chapter 2 – Slaves to Love
A chapter dedicated to explaining the ethics and rights behind having a pet. Karen goes through all common animals that serve as pets, outlining with each one what constitutes a good, loving household and what borders on animal cruelty cases.
Chapter 3 – All the World’s A Cage
Here Karen talks about the role of animals in the entertainment industry, covering zoos, circuses, marine parks, movies, hunting and fishing. The stories are real and graphic, but presented in gentle ways to make the reader understand the truth of what goes on behind the scenes, without getting overwhelmed.
Chapter 4 – Fashion Victims
This chapter addresses the role of animals in our clothing industry and addresses all things from fur and leather to wool and silk.
Chapter 5 – Deconstructing Dinner
This is the longest chapter in the book, makes up over ¼ of the book, and the one perhaps that is most applicable to us here at EvolvingWellness.com
We talk about healthy eating, but we also talk about balanced living. Well in this chapter Karen exposes it all! She looks at every animal flesh possible that is served as “meat” and traces for the reader the origin of that animal and what it went through to end up on your table. A big focus here is of course factory farming for meat, but Karen also covers the dairy industry in depth, as well as fish, eggs and honey.
If nothing else, this is a chapter that every human out there who consumes any animal products should read, in order to understand the full ramifications of their actions both on their own physical and emotional health, but also of their actions on the animals and on the planet.
It is by no means about “feeling bad”, but about getting and feeling the truth. We are at our essence compassionate beings, and I guarantee that if all of us read this chapter alone, animal slaughter would almost decrease to extinction tomorrow. The things that all animals go thorough so that you could have their products on your table is unspeakable, and the worst part is, it is not isolated – it is the norm in today’s farms. We just choose to ignore it.
Chapter 6 – Animals Anonymous
In this chapter Karen, discusses the role animals play in laboratories and examines the real and deep question of whether animal testing really saves human lives.
This chapter is also very thorough and goes through everything from teeth whitening and cosmetics to medical and psychological animal studies.
Chapter 7 – The Greenies
This chapter is also especially dear and near to us here at EvolvingWellness.com, as it discusses the environmental impacts of animal farming, upkeep, and slaughter.
Most of us are coming around to understand that animal farming is more disastrous to the environment and planet than the cars on the road, but many of us still fail to miss all of the resources of the planet that are spent on farming animals, only to be tortured all their life and eventually brutally killed for our food, clothing and personal products.
Chapter 8 – Compassion in Action
This last chapter focuses on what is being done to improve animal rights and animal welfare all around the world, and beautifully finishes off the book on a hopeful and positive note.
Together, when we face the truth, when we speak up, we can make a difference – and many people are.
At the end of the book there is also a very helpful section called “Recommended Resource Groups.“ In this section one can find the many groups that are actively working to improve animal rights all over the world and where or how one can find them or contact them.
Thanking the Monkey: Personal Overview
As I stated above, as soon as I saw the book, I felt the energy that radiated from it, that drew me to reading it. And I was right – the book moved me and educated me on things that I thought I knew, and yet upon reading the book realized how much I still didn’t know.
If you are looking for an amazing educational experience in a fun way, then this book promises to deliver. It is funny, it is sad, it is heart wrenching and at the same time eloquent in how it lays out the facts, plain and simple for the reader to absorb, without being overwhelmed.
Was it at all times easy to read? Definitely not. And what I mean by that, is that many times I had to detach myself from what I was actually reading for I do not want to build up any anger towards humans for so many of their barbaric ways to those on our planet who are most helpless. There were moments where my heart ached and tears wanted to pour down my face, but the thought that I am part of the solution, not part of the problem kept me from breaking down.
One of the most important things we can do is be willing to raise our voices and say that what is happening to the animals matters. The power of just one voice can have enormous impact.
Karen Dawn in “Thanking the Monkey”
Is what Karen presents the reality? Oh you can bet your yourself it is. This is the area that so many people do not understand and I think choose not to fully grasp, out of nothing more than sheer inconvenience. What Karen talks about throughout the whole book is not some one isolated farm that treated their animals poorly and got caught type of idea. It is also not about what they do in “other” countries, but not our own. Folks, this is as real as it gets, and if we wake up and look around, she is not the only one talking about this. Oprah does huge specials every so often on the conditions of factory farming. Organizations likes PETA and the Humane Societies are not just here to fill some organizational void. And many other authors, celebrities and citizens alike, blodly talk about these topics. At any rate, if we find that we challenge the merits of this reality, we can always go and visit a factory farm and see this for ourselves.
I had recently heard an environmental scientist say, “future generations will look back at us and be appalled at how we could have ever been so barbaric.” If you think this is exaggerating it, look at how we ourselves view what used to be done to the slaves only a few decades ago, never mind other human beings a few hundred years ago.
Why hurt anybody if you don’t have to?
Karen Dawn in “Thanking the Monkey”
What we cannot forget is that as a species of beings, we are constantly evolving, so no longer does it serve us to say “but we have been eating meat for thousands of years.” First of all, the meat was free to live out a normal life, not enslaved and tortured the way it is now and second of all, if we keep looking back at how things were, how are we ever supposed to move forward?
For me personally the book served such a valuable role as it made me become more conscious of so much more than just the food I eat and my impact on the environment. It made me realize that my actions of what I choose to wear or what I choose to see for entertainment also vote one way or the other where the animals are concerned. I think we are all aware by now of the faux-pas when it comes to fur coats, but how about our leather coats and shoes? How about our down duvets and pillows? How about where we choose to take our kids, in terms of zoos, marine parks or the circus? Do we ever stop and allow ourselves to know what is happening behind the scenes?
It is all these things combined that today matter, and matter a lot where the lives of millions of animals are concerned.
So you may not be ready to give up animal products entirely and that is completely understandable given the heavy conditioning that most of us have to undo, but every action in your life makes a difference to an animal out there. And we cannot kid ourselves either and say “but it was going to die anyways, if not for me than someone else.” When we as consumers drive the demand down, more animal’s lives will be spared.
If you are eating animal products 3 times a week, rather than 3 times a day, while it’s bad luck for the animals you are eating, it is awfully good luck for the many others you are saving by not helping create demand – and it’s a lot better for you than eating animals every day.
Karen Dawn in “Thanking the Monkey”
Ultimately as you can tell I feel very passionately about this subject because I do not adopt the “dominion paradigm” that so many humans hide behind – that God gave us these animals for us to have dominion over. Perhaps in the early days, humans had to rely on animals for food, but in an abundant world of food like today, this is no longer the case and on top of that, I know no God said “and torture them and kill them however you like” either.
I also refuse to run away from the truth. If one wants to eat animal products today, than have a few of your own animals or seek small local, organic farms from which you pick up the food directly, where the animals are living out a life as normal as possible and are killed humanely. Also, if you share a love for animals, than I think we have to own up to the fact that the time has come to stop discriminating – all life is sacred, whether it is pampered at home with treats, or trying to live out its own life in some pasture somewhere.
No matter what you do, if you are consuming, wearing or supporting any type of animal industry, I simply invite you to read this book. What you do afterwards is up to you, but challenge yourself to face the truth, find out how the animal products you eat or the clothes on your back made it to you and see where you fit into this picture of rethinking how we treat the animals today.
We all need to remember that every time we choose the veggie burger instead of the turkey burger, the tofu stir-fry instead of the pork or chicken, or the soy latte instead of skim – every time we pick up our forks, knives, or cups, we make a difference.
Karen Dawn in “Thanking the Monkey”
Most importantly do not be afraid of what you will find out when you read this book, we can all only run from the truth for so long. Instead, think about the changes that you can implement in your life today, think about how much more empowered you can feel in knowing that you are making a difference. Think about what you can teach your children about lessons in compassion and stewardship to build more loving and peaceful generations for the future.
“Thanking the Monkey” is by far a 10 out of 10 and I hold high regard for Karen Dawn for her passion, strength, courage, compassion and efforts to write this book and bring awareness to us all today on this very worthy topic.
It is definitely one of those books that should be a must read for us all and thus I highly recommend it!
Visit the official site of Thanking the Monkey – Rethinking The Way We Treat Animals for more information.