The purpose of this book is to bring together representatives (or activists, as defined below) from many sides of the animal-rights debate, so that students and researchers can see a variety of personalities and points of view in a single printed volume. Dozens of polemical writings are produced each year on animal-rights issues, in journals and in books, presenting their arguments persuasively for one opinion or another. Unfortunately, very few publications have attempted to provide personal perspectives from these activists. This is the first work of its kind, based on collecting interviews with identical questions asked of all participants, so that their responses may be compared and contrasted.
The word “activist” does not imply that these people are necessarily “radicals” or “extremists.” Activism has become synonymous with extremism in many media contexts. For the purposes of this volume, an activist is a person who has taken a larger-than-average role in promoting or opposing a certain issue. For example, because I spend much time writing books about animal issues, I am something of an activist, though I am not committed to either side. A person who spends a lot of time, energy, and/or money on any given issue could be called an activist. Using this definition, all the participants interviewed in this book are activists, because they strive to influence our society in the cause of animal rights or animal welfare.
My hope is that the razor-sharp edge to many animal-rights debates can be dulled somewhat, if each opposing group can see that “real,” well-meaning and intelligent people are working within their belief systems. Perhaps a degree of mutual respect can be attained, which