By Marc Bekoff
Basically, I am an animal rights advocate/activist with deep concerns about all animals, plants, bodies of water, the air we breathe, outer space, and inanimate landscapes. I have always had these concerns according to my parents, since I was a toddler. Thus, I am not sure how I came to my compassionate views of the world in which I live. Often, I feel deep in my heart it is simply genetic - inborn - and that I have been blessed with a keen sensitivity of the plight of other animals and all other "beings" in the world. I am a vitalist and see and feel life in everything, animate and inanimate.
I am a vegetarian. I eat a few animal products minimally and strive to eliminate all animal products as time goes on. My reasons for vegetarianism are ethical and not health related. The issues centering on meat-eating that are most important to me deal with the horrific slaughtering of animals for human consumption and the death of our animal kin to satisfy nutritional needs that for almost all people can be met by eating products other than animal meat.
I have published quite a lot in the area of animal protection and animal rights. My Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare was published in 1998 and I have a children's book coming out this spring titled Strolling With Our Kin: Speaking for and Respecting Voiceless Animals (American Anto-vivisection Society). I also write a column for my local paper and for other popular outlets and travel widely to give lectures.
I find myself at odds particularly with my scientific colleagues and with some others because I am a scientist with a heart, a scientist who feels that the business of science could do much much better in the area of animal protection. I also disdain how science chops everything into little bits - how science fragments, slices, cuts, and disembodies. I am a holist at heart. My anthropomorphism and sentimentalism are off-putting to many other scientists but that's just who I am. I think my academic record shows clearly that I (and some others) can do solid science and still be driven by my (our) heartstrings - that solid science can be done even if one goes to the beat of a different drummer.
Most of my family and close friends support my views and animal protection in general. I maintain my sanity by keeping up hope. I am an inborn optimist and I simply believe that there are many reasons for hope. I worked on a set of millennial mantras with Jane Goodall and her optimism and hope and friendship are among the most important ingredients for my recipe for a better tomorrow - a better world for our children and theirs.
Animal abuse is particularly upsetting but I also ache when I feel trees being felled, water ways being changed, and inanimate landscapes being decimated. My vitalistic sense is offended by _all_ destruction. I am a dreamer and have visions of many better tomorrows. Let us all practice peace and justice, and express compassion and respect for the rest of the world. May we all, as a tight and committed community, work towards these goals.