COMMITTED: A Rabble-Rouser’s Memoir – by DAN MATHEWS


This joy ride of a book was delivered to me through my local library as I was really looking forward to a good animal rights activism book. Recently, I saw HBO’s look at PETA’s president Ingrid Newkirk which I found deeply interesting from an activist’s point of view. I still think PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)is way more engaging than any other animal rights group on the planet! Everybody seems… well… too mainstream and too compromising. You can’t compromise with lives! I like action. So reading Dan Mathew’s personal account of his life as Vice-President of PETA, as a Gay man and just simply a guy was soooo refreshing and fun at the same time.

I couldn’t help but relate to Dan tremendously not because he is Gay but because a lot of his struggles hit home. His childhood particularly felt very much like mine as I was usually bullied by others (for being “weird”. I still wonder what was “weird” about me!). I guess Dan and I share a lot in common. He almost feels like the friend I wish I had in High School (Unlike him, I didn’t even have one – Pathetic!), We share a lot in common. I went through a phase of sexual identity crisis (it’s not over yet) and found myself migrating through the pain of others. And just like him, I embraced the animal rights cause and went from being a meat eater to Vegetarian and finally Vegan.

Dan Mathew’s story is very inspiring and I understand how he was able to make it to the top of PETA’s fight for animals alongside Ingrid Newkirk. I read his book in a just a few days (I’m usually slower) and loved each pages. It’s a lot of fun to find out how he got Calvin Klein to go fur-free, or how he got the likes of Nina Hagen, Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) and Pamela Anderson to really even more around PETA’s cause. He also makes a good case for Veganism without trying to preach for anybody not there yet.

So, yes it is a good read. It’s entertaining and the man certainly has bravado. But more than that, it made me want to join a few naked protests!

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10/29/2013 update about this post: I am amazed at how much my own position on PETA and their sexist campaigns has changed. I didn’t have an understanding about patriarchal sexist thinking and still didn’t understand feminism either, even thought I thought I identify as one. It took reading The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams to radically make me see the light. Also, since, I have learned about how PETA kills healthy companion animals. I also don’t think they are even “radical” any more. But at the time of writing, PETA was about the only frame of reference. Other than that, I still think that this book is a good read on various levels and it gives us a good look inside PETA’s thinking.

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