Sue Cross, author, On the Menu: Animal Welfare — They are what we eat, writes
For a deeper understanding of the trials and difficulties of running animal welfare organisations – and the difficulty in getting the pitch right – this autobiography is nothing if not a revelation. No less insightful is Stallwood’s highlighting of the contradictions involved in the animal rights debate: that we eat some animals yet have a great affinity with others, a distinction that is reflected in our animal laws. It is for this reason that Stallwood argues that animals – since they cannot organise themselves – need welfare organisations to press for litigation which recognises that all animals are equal and all are equally entitled to freedom.
Erica Smith in Peace News writes
For 40 years, Kim Stallwood (sometimes known as ‘The Grumpy Vegan’) has been an active animal advocate. Growl combines autobiography, social history and an exploration of the philosophy and practice of animal rights. It is an engaging and readable book which made me draw parallels with other areas of nonviolent campaigning.After working in a chicken slaughterhouse, Stallwood became a vegetarian in 1974, aged 19. Two years later he became a fully-fledged vegan. Unlike today, when all supermarkets stock soya milk and dairy-free meals, being a vegan in 1976 took dedication and meant journeys to London’s Chinatown for tofu, as well as endless creativity with Sosmix. [extract]
Zelly Restorick reviews Growl in The Vegan magazine published The Vegan Society
The book’s title evokes Kim Stallwood’s experiences growling about–and against–all forms of animal exploitation. In the Introduction, fellow animal activist Dr Brian May writes, “Although Kim is modest and self-critical, his life has already inspired many of us in our quest to give animals a voice.” Stallwood’s life changed after watching Open Door, a 1970s BBC documentary focused on The Vegan Society. This transformed him into “Kim the Vegelical” — an evangelistic vegan. Stallwood later met The Vegan Society’s Kathleen Jannaway and Eva Batt, describing them as “dedicated pioneers, who in many ways were ahead of their time.” In Growl, Stallwood reflects on four decades spent as an animal advocate and vegan. Alongside personal insights, he explores the four main values he believes should be at the heart of any campaign on behalf of animals: compassion, truth, non-violence and justice. Stallwood is keenly dedicated to educating the public about the reality of what is happening in the “animal industrial complex”, where animals “have no other destiny than as our products or services.” He also acknowledges the vital necessity of legislation and lobbying politicians at a local, national and international level. Growl is dedicated to the reader, “because you can make a difference” — Stallwood is certainly one individual who has made a hugely impactful difference to the lives of all of the animals he cares about.
My Top 5 Animal-Related Books to Give as Gifts by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate – For the animal advocate in your life. I learned so much from Kim’s honest re-telling of his decades-long journey in the animal protection movement.
Catholic Concern for Animal Welfare by Thom Bonneville
I went along to this year’s London Vegan Festival in a real funk, dispirited and frustrated over the prospects for real change for animals and the indifference I seemed to meet with daily. In the preceding months I’d been becoming aware of an increasing tetchiness and proneness to argument in myself. Knowing full well that moaning about ‘the struggle’ and getting angry with persons who hold a different view was completely counter-productive, I still wasn’t having much luck controlling my feelings and getting back to a more positive place. A stroke of good fortune for me, then, that I left the festival with a copy of Growl under my arm. Kim Stallwood, aka the grumpy vegan, starting training as a chef at age sixteen and found his first jobs in the kitchen of a posh Piccadilly restaurant and, one summer holiday, wrapping freshly-slaughtered chickens in a Hampshire abattoir. Not a typical start for a life-long animal advocate, but in their way these early experiences took him through the stages of denial and mental-emotional compartmentalisation that we mostly all undergo, and it wasn’t long before the scales fell. Peter Roberts of Compassion in World Farming took him on as a campaign officer in 1977 and over the course of the next twenty years he was with what would become some of the most prominent organisations in the animal welfare/liberation movements, including the BUAV – where he was a modernising and energising influence – and PETA, whom he helped take national and then international. This was a period of great change, a vitally important time for animal rights, and the author was front and centre throughout it, and on both sides of the Atlantic; it’s left him with a fund of insights such as few could lay claim to. But Growl isn’t about the minutiae of organisational evolution – it’s concerned with the big picture: what’s it all been about; why are we doing this; how can we do it better? Growl pleads for continuing growth: for broader and deeper connection with all beings, for spiritual awakening and for political seriousness. The justice we seek for animals must take care to see itself legally enshrined, but remain ever rooted in an ethic of care and compassion. The maturity of the animal movement as a whole is brilliantly assessed, concluding that the time is now ripe to move from public education to public policy. Readers looking to know more about the history of the animal welfare/ rights movement will find an enlightening survey here. Those wishing to think carefully about how best to pursue the short and long term goals of that movement may well find it indispensable. But for anyone who is seeking, as I was and am, to better understand themselves as an animal defender and engage more healthfully with the difficult emotions that accompany that way of life, I think this is a book that can rightly be called transformative – though a self-confessed grump like Mr Stallwood might not approve of my saying so!
Review by Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion In World Farming
No one ever said that caring about animals was easy. Especially in a world with a long way to go before animal cruelty is a thing of the past. Being struck by the plight of others and wanting to do something about it can be a lonely place. For anyone starting down this road afresh, Growl is the perfect companion. In fact, Stallwood himself declares this book the one he would have “loved” to read when he first set off along the path of trying to make sense of man’s relationship with animals. That was his very motivation in writing it. His autobiographical characters enthuse life and humour; from walking the dog with Camberley Kate to speeding down the American freeway eating meat-free hotdogs from a tin. He shares thoughts on how to avoid getting stuck in what he describes as the ‘misanthropic bunker’, becoming isolationist and seeing things in terms of animals versus people, when really it should be about both. He sheds insight into the history of the animal movement on both sides of the Atlantic. I particularly enjoyed reading about the early days at Compassion in World Farming; Stallwood was its very first campaigns director way back in the mid-1970s. Through his own experiences, the author navigates the complex web of thoughts, emotions and motivations that can buffet those who want to make the world a better place for animals and people. He lays bare personal flaws with engaging honesty. He crystalizes what it means to care deeply for others of a different species. Amongst sharp observations and lessons befitting a scholar steeped in his subject, this book shares all. Stallwood pours forty years of hard lessons into this synthesis of humane thought. Growl gives us a rare glimpse of life as one of the animal movement’s most enduring leaders.
Review by Thom Bonneville for Quaker Concern for Animals
Those wishing to know more about the history of the animal welfare/rights movement will find Growl an enlightening read, but those looking for the best ways of advancing the short and long term goals of that movement may well find it an indispensable one. In the book’s final chapters, Kim Stallwood brilliantly assesses the maturity of the movement as a whole and concludes that the time is ripe to move resolutely from public education into public policy. It’s up to us to realise that challenge.
Review by Stephen R. Kaufman, MD, for Christian Vegetarian Association
Kim Stallwood’s reflections on his long journey with the animal advocacy movement are both interesting and insightful. Working with many leading animal advocacy groups in the United Kingdom (including BUAV) and the United States (including PETA), Stallwood has gained knowledge about what strategies seem to work and which do not. Further, he has experienced the challenges of working with dedicated animal advocates who, in their zeal to protect nonhumans, don’t always treat each other very well. Growl is easy to read and filled with entertaining anecdotes. Much to Stallwood’s credit, he does not identify by name those people with whom he has disagreed, sometimes strongly. In other words, he resists the temptation to use his book as a means to broadside individuals with whom he had conflicts. Stallwood identifies four key values to animal rights: compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice. His book is largely an exploration of how these values apply to everyday advocacy. He also identifies five stages (which often overlap) of social movements: public education, public policy development, legislation, enforcement, and public acceptance. Animal advocates often focus on public education, in part because it does not require any compromise of values. In contrast, any successful legislative action requires compromise, which might seem to undermine core values.
Mark Hawthorne, author, A Vegan Ethic and Bleating Hearts
Inspiring and insightful, Kim Stallwood’s Growl is an eloquent blend of history and hope. Both a personal narrative and a call to action, Growl considers what it means to care deeply about animals, and act on their behalf, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand the animal-protection movement — and their place in it. The author asserts that, like the four points on a moral compass, our commitment to animal rights must be animated by four key values: compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice. He returns to these principles throughout the book, elaborating on their meaning and demonstrating why they are crucial to the success of the animal rights movement. Kim Stallwood is a longtime activist with many fascinating stories to tell, and his immensely readable book is destined to become a classic in the field.
Urszula Zarosa, author and philosopher
This is without a doubt a must read book for every animal advocate out there. Why? Because you’ll really like it – it’s about you, every single one of us. This amazing story shows not only impressive resume of Kim Stallwood – who is one of the most respected animal rights activists out there – but first of all it is a journey – through history, philosophy, psychology and our everyday struggles when we’re trying to do our best to change something in the World. I read this book with an overwhelming feeling of mutual understanding with the author and acquiring deep but simply stated wisdom of a mentor that each of us is looking for at some point. The core values that Stallwood presents in this book don’t depend on personal philosophical views but they come from years of experience that he gladly share with us. I respond very well to his attitude toward animal rights activism – seeing it as a political or social justice movement instead of moral crusade. This book is truly inspiring with beautiful writing inside and emphasis on compassion, which makes it very special. I wish one day to have the “magical connection” with an animal (or animals) that Stallwood mentions and hope to be such a smart, talented writer and activist he is. Huge thank you for this book, I’ll remember it for a long time <3!!!