Skip to content

On Thanking Slaughtered Sheep for Book Awards

Jenny sent me a link to a remarkably-ironic story that was very tough to get through.

Remember Catherine Friend, who wrote Compassionate Carnivore? (Here's my commentary on it, and here's my commentary about what compassionate carnivore means–and doesn't mean.)

Well, she apparently did such a great job convincing the folks at the Minnesota Book Awards that you can claim to love animals and then send them to slaughter, that not only was she a finalist for their award, but she won it.

In her blog yesterday she wrote of her experience accepting the award, and who she thanked and didn't thank.

Did I thank the Loft Literary Center for all its support, or the Friends of the Saint Paul Library for hosting the MN Book Awards?

Again, no.

In my own defense, I was nervous, a bright floodlight shone right in my eyes, and I was worried because the mike seemed too low. I just wanted to be out of there.

So I thanked Melissa, thanked Renee, then I—hold on to your hat–thanked my sheep.

Holy Stupid-Thing-To-Say, Batman.

Luckily ten years of Toastmasters taught me that the dumb things we say in public quickly fade, leaving nothing but a lovely blown glass award glowing on the living room table.

She expressed her gratitude for those she kills in her book, as well:

"When I first ate a meal from one of our lambs, I thought I'd be upset, since it'd been so hard to take them to the abbattoir. But instead of being sad or upset at the lamb chop on my plate, I was overcome with gratitude. It wasn't the sort of gratitude you feel when someone sacrifices something for you, since the animal I was eating had made no such choice; I'd made the choice for it. But it was a gratitude that came from acknowledging I was eating the flesh of an animal, and in order for me to do that, Melissa and I had worked very hard to be sustainable and humane farmers" (252).

But none of this should be surprising, as you may recall that Friend wrote a "Letter to My Lambs," also in her award-winning book, where she claimed to love them and honor them. For some reason she appeared to be proud to say: "you will die quickly tomorrow. You won't be part of a kill and disassembly line but you will be killed, one at a time" (159).

But slaughtering sentient beings, when you have no need to, is nothing to be proud of, and it's certainly nothing to be awarded for. It's betrayal, pure and simple.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi Mary – found this posting at the Animal Advocates of British Columbia message board [ ] regarding CBS Sunday Morning story about Austin, TX firefighters who have gone vegan) – message was posted by Karen Dawn of Dawn Watch:

    The lead story on the CBS news show "Sunday Morning" on April 26 was about the and the benefits of a vegan diet as told to us by a brigade of Austin firefighters who have gone vegan. I waited to send this out hoping you could watch it on line, but unfortunately, while CBS has posted the story and some photos, the page doesn't also share the video. So you don't get to see vegan firefighter Rip Esselstyn doing his set of wide arm chin-ups with his oxygen tank on his back, but you do get to read the fun and informative story.

    Esselstyn is the author of "The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds."

    The CBS story tells us:

    "Rip Esselstyn started his buddies down the road to meatless living back in 2003, when one of the guys found out his cholesterol level was dangerously high. "

    Rip's father, renowned cardiologist Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, is also interviewed. He shows us pictures of a withered artery in a man, then the same artery 32 months later, strong and clean, after the man has been eating a plant based diet. You'll find those photos, and photos of the firefighters preparing meals, and also the text of terrific Sunday Morning on line, at:

    Please check it out, leave a comment at the bottom of the page, and then email it to all of your friends. You'll be spreading the good word among them and also helping to encourage similar stories in the future as stations take note of which stories get the most forwards.

    Finally, please tell the producers directly how much loved the story. Positive feedback encourages similar coverage. Go to to leave your comment.

    Yours and the animals',
    Karen Dawn

    (DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

    Please go to to read reviews and see a fun celeb-studded video and an NBC news piece on Karen Dawn's new book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of 2008."

    April 29, 2009
  2. Hella #

    Think she needs to go & see a shrink (doubt he can help though) Moral schizophrenia,pure & simple.

    April 29, 2009
  3. Dan #

    Hehehe. . .if the Washington Post praised Karen Dawn's book, you know the gist of the book's message could not have been one iota more powerful than "veganism is a nice, optional thing to do if you can muster enough of a damn, but if not, and we know most people can't, that's cool too!"

    April 29, 2009
  4. Mary Martin #

    “ I was vegan for a while up until recently. Then I started eating people. Only free-range, of course, which is humane. I gave them a little space, didn’t terrorize them (too much), then slit their throats.

    Chris Hannah, lead singer of Propagandhi

    (Thanks to vegan1 for that:

    April 30, 2009
  5. I love the line on her blog: "So when he read my name, I was stunned," – she has no idea… But one can only hope the fates enlighten her appropriately.

    May 1, 2009
  6. Cypher #

    This would be utterly laughable if it weren't true. Talk about delusional!

    May 6, 2009

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS