Are Animals Our Neighbors?
By Gracia Fay Ellwood

      Gracia Fay Ellwood

A new edition of the booklet Are Animals Our Neighbors?, written by Gracia Fay Ellwood and published by the TOS-USA, is now available free of charge in English. A new Spanish language edition is in the works. Contact to order physical copies of the booklet. A pdf copy of the booklet can be downloaded and/or printed from the TOS-USA website. In Are Animals Our Neighbors? the author uses an intelligent and sensitive approach to encourage a plant-based diet and lifestyle and decry the cruel treatment and slaughter of animals especially those raised for food or food products.


In summarising her booklet, the author points out that “The booklet reflects on the basic principle of the major religions and ethical systems, summarised in 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' and 'Do unto others...' This principle is probably more often broken than observed. It happens systematically because most cultures are stratified, and train their members to close down their hearts and imaginations to beings ‘beneath’ them, ‘inferior’ humans and especially nonhuman animals.

“They assume animals are our resources or property, not our neighbors. The latter assumption, especially in Western cultures in which meat is central to almost everyone’s diet, has led to the vast system of factory farms and slaughterhouses to meet daily demands. The system wages violent war against animals, causing untold suffering and shedding oceans of blood.


“That animals are in fact not our property but our neighbors and kin becomes evident when we educate ourselves about their behavior and apparent feelings, especially that of ‘food’ animals, and imagine ourselves in their place. For example, like many dogs and cats and humans, a lot of pigs are curious, affectionate, and attached to their families and friends; they become deeply depressed when isolated and confined to cages. Cows and calves cry out in prolonged anguish when the dairy industry separates them so that humans can consume the milk. In slaughterhouses, animals endure terror and physical agony. If they had words, they might call human treatment of them slavery, torture and massacre, treatment that cries out for justice.


“Most people who finance these horrors by buying the products don’t intend to be slave-masters or torturers; they are unthinkingly doing what they were taught in childhood is the thing to do. Thus these evils are not individual crimes but cultural ones. The mainstreams of the major religions have not protested these horrors, but these religions do have minority voices that tell us Divine Love embraces all beings, human or otherwise.These voices call on us to awaken, to cease participating in the violent system, and to respect and love all our neighbors as ourselves.”