Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review: Ninety-Five

Most people in America have never met a living cow or a pig, a chicken or a turkey. In No Voice Unheard's outstanding book NINETY-FIVE, through stunning photography and very moving stories, America can encounter the faces of animals normally perceived as mere food to be put on the table.

"Ninety-five" refers to the number of animals per year people on a vegan diet are estimated to save. Whether or not you accept that number, you will meet 95 of the millions of America's farmed animals in this powerful and moving book. These are 95 lucky souls who one way or another found themselves at animal sanctuaries around the country.

Take the rabbits, Farrah and Damien, for example. These poor animals were destined to be food until a kind person, horrified at that prospect, bought them, the rest of the litter and their mom from the marketplace and brought this fortunate rabbit family to an animal sanctuary. There is Julep the duckling, who had been rescued from a fois gras facility where she and other ducklings had been dumped into a trash can. And there is Peapod, a pig I happen to have met a couple of years ago at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland--this poor "babe" had been a prize in a greased pig contest. The person who "won" him took him into a parking lot whereupon he began lobbing rocks at and beating him. A security guard's intervention brought Peapod through a rescue group eventually to Poplar Spring. I can personally attest to this pig's sweet nature--he was very small when we met him and he came running to us when we called his name. I will never forget how he bounced off all the other pigs in the barn to get to us.

But then like the animals at these special homes,I'm lucky. I live close to an animal sanctuary so I can visit--and do every year--and spend time with turkeys and rabbits and pigs and sheep. NINETY-FIVE may be the closest most people will ever get to seeing the faces of these animals and bearing witness to their suffering. Each story, each photo, is rife with emotion and will stir your soul. How can you not be affected by the love story of Libby and Louie, a hen and a rooster who stood by each other's side through near-fatal illnesses? How about Linda and Tricia's story? Tricia is a blind dairy cow who came to the sanctuary in total distress and mourning because her calf had just been taken from her and sent to slaughter before she missed being sent to slaughter herself. When introduced to Linda, a disabled cow who had been living with the sanctuary's sheep and goats to avoid accidental injury by interacting with other cows, Tricia took to Linda right away, licking her new companion for hours. They are now inseparable companions, fulfilling each other's needs, just as we humans do in this crazy world of ours.

NINETY-FIVE is one of those rare books that you want to give to everyone. You can order it via, OR even better, you can order it directly from NO VOICE UNHEARD, the nonprofit organization who produced it ( NO VOICE UNHEARD offers a giving packages deal, where you can buy 5 copies of the book at a discounted rate. Nonprofit groups can also get in on some discounts as well. Their online bookshop reads, "Because our goal is to educate and inform, we want to make No Voice Unheard publications as accessible as possible. We have set cover prices lower than similar quality books produced by commercial publishers. By ordering directly from No Voice Unheard you are helping to support ongoing outreach efforts."

Get a copy, everyone. Do it for you but mostly do it for Goosifer the goose, Swoozie the goat, Aunt Bea the bunny, Rhubarb the rooster, and all the lucky farmed animals who survived a horrible fate. Perhaps you will find you will want to help make millions of other farmed animals lucky too.

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