Andrew F Smith, Philosophy, Drexel University

Media Coverage of A Critique of the Moral Defense of Vegetarianism

Heather Shayne Blakeslee, "A Vegetarian Philosopher Questions His Own Practices," Grid, 3 August 2017

"I Mean It When I Say that We Can't Be Vegetarians, But..." Palgrave Macmillan Campaign for the Humanities, 2 June 2016

Alex Swerdloff, "This Vegan Professor Says There's No Such Thing as Real Vegetarians," Munchies, 20 April 2016

"Why It's Impossible to Actually Be a Vegetarian," The Conversation, 26 April 2016; over 1.7 millions views; republished by Salon, The Washington Post, IFLScience, Macleans (Canada), The Daily Mail (UK), Metro (UK), The Houston Chronical, Huffington Post, and ScienceAlert

Brandon Baker, "Drexel Professor's New Book: It's Impossible to Be Vegetarian," Philly Voice, 7 March 2016

Alex McKechnie, "Thinking of Being a Vegetarian? Well, You Can't," 24 February 2016; reprinted in Natural Awakenings, May 2016

ABC Radio Melbourne, AU; Saturday Breakfast with Hilary Harper, 8 April 2017

Sustainable Dish Podcast, 22 March 2017

Optimal Performance Podcast, 4 May 2016

570 News, Kitchener, ON, 28 April 2016

1310 News, Ottawa, ON, 27 April 2016

News Talk 77, Calgary, AB, 26 April 2016

Super Human Radio show, 7 March 2016

Is vegetarianism morally defensible?
Can one even be a vegetarian?

This book asserts that the answers to both these questions is a resounding 'no.' Drawing on the latest research in plant science, systems ecology, environmental philosophy, and cultural anthropology, Andrew F. Smith—himself a long-time vegetarian—shatters the distinction between vegetarianism and omnivorism.

He explains how the world would be better off if we could re-orient the way we think about plants, animals, and the moral reasoning that we use to bolster our belief in such a binary.

Smith illustrates how the divisions we have constructed between plants and animals, and between omnivorism and vegetarianism, is emblematic of a way of thinking about ourselves and our eating practices that perpetuates an ecocidal worldview.

A Critique of the Moral Defense of Vegetarianism insists we must adopt new ways of looking at things if our species is to survive and thrive. Smith suggests we begin by re-envisioning our relationship with our food.

It turns out we are not what we eat, but who we eat. And this makes a world of difference.

"This is one of the most important books I've read in the past two decades. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or neither, it will change your mind in significant ways (it did mine). And you'll enjoy the process, even if it means relinquishing some assumptions you once considered far too self-evident to be questioned."

~ Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael

"Smith offers a powerful and careful argument that contests moral, philosophical, and cultural arguments for vegetarianism and veganism. This is a beautifully readable work. The author's openness to his own struggles and his reflexivity about the processes by which he has reached his conclusions make it easy to follow along. At the same time Smith requires readers to reflect and work hard. Wonderful! Why isn't more academia like this?"

~ Graham Harvey, The Open University, UK

"Andrew F. Smith proceeds with well-grounded premises that defy the binary between the animal and plant worlds. I highly recommend this book for its thoughtful investigation of the 'closed-loop' system of life."

~ Naomi Zack, University of Oregon

Lexington Books, 2011

What can motivate citizens in divided societies to engage in free, open, and reasoned dialogue?

Attempts by philosophers to answer this question focus largely on elucidating what citizens owe to one another as free and equal citizens, as members of a shared social context, or as agents who are mutually dependent on one another for our well-being. In The Deliberative Impulse: Motivating Discourse in Divided Societies, Andrew F. Smith suggests that that a better answer can be offered in terms of what we owe to our convictions. Given the defining role they play in how we live our lives and regard ourselves, among the highest-order interests that we maintain is being in a position to do right by our convictions to abide by conscience. By developing a clear understanding of how best to act on this interest, we see that we are well served by engaging in public deliberation.

Particularly for citizens in societies that are fragmented along ethnic, cultural, ideological, and religious lines, our interest in abiding by conscience should give us clear moral, epistemic, and religious incentives to deliberatively engage with allies and adversaries alike. Scholars who focus on issues in political philosophy, ethics, and political theory will value this book for how it suggests we can overcome the motivational roadblocks to active political participation and robust deliberation.

“How can citizens be encouraged to deliberate together, despite their substantive moral and political differences? In this engaging book, Andrew Smith takes up this practical challenge. Drawing on an attractive conception of conscience, Smith makes a case for thinking that our fundamental desire to live in accordance with our deep convictions provides us with a compelling incentive to publicly deliberate. This book makes an important contribution to the theory and practice of deliberative democracy.”

~ Robert B. Talisse,
Vanderbilt University

“In this highly original book, Smith asks an important question that remains in the background for most theories of deliberative democracy. It is the question of genuine inclusion: how is it that that those who are disenfranchized can come to see themselves as full participants?”

~ James Bohman, Saint Louis University

“Andrew Smith offers a propitious new way to think about the meaning and importance of living according to conscience. His book speaks to people's deepest convictions, extending an uplifting case in favor of more and better deliberation among divided citizens in pluralistic societies.”

~ Lucas Swaine, Dartmouth College