Henry Mance’s How to Love Animals In a Human-Shaped World is one of the most accessible pro-vegan texts to come out in recent years. In How to Love Animals, Mance takes a relatively moderate (some may even say safe) approach to animal rights, perhaps to avoid alienating non-vegans. Though that is not to say that Mance’s writing is not measured and well-reasoned, it may be difficult for some vegans to accept certain elements of the text, such as Mance’s argument that certain types of hunting are “necessary, restrained, [and] connected”. In this way, How to Love Animals is less an ideological rumination and more a guide to animal welfare. Take note: Mance is very decidedly pro-animal welfare and very debatably pro-animal rights.
Mance explores many environments in which human and non-human worlds collide. How to Love Animals opens with a chapter on Mance’s stint in a slaughterhouse production line. Mance puts forth his best journalistic integrity in this chapter; he neither derides nor excuses the actions of the slaughterhouse workers, but instead strictly provides the workflow facts while noting his personal biases. In fact, Mance’s work does not often revel in contempt, but instead provides practical, actionable advice.
Mance writes with a refreshingly poised understanding that no matter how well-reasoned and pragmatic his advice may be, many of his views will be equally dubious to both carnists and liberationists. While liberationists have a firm understanding of the inherent problems with animal domestication, many readers will be turned off by the acknowledgement of their pet cat as an invasive species. While most practical carnists understand the use of hunting as a means of population control, it is doubtful that Mance will win over any liberationists. Though Mance does often address these differing viewpoints, the intent of How to Love Animals is not to win an argument with the reader. Mance does not ask for agreement, but simply consideration.
Mance is clearly passionate about the well-being of both human and non-human animals. His empathy flows throughout each chapter. What makes How to Love Animals so engaging and readable is Mance’s honesty. He does not have all the answers and he does not claim to have all the answers. Instead, he gives readers his research and, in an often conversational tone, attempts to determine the best course of action. How to Love Animals is an excellent book for open-minded readers.