Talking to animals

“Who has not seen a child and an animal talking and understanding each other, sharing the same games and the same psychological needs (…) cannot understand that this mutual friendship is the cause of a child’s affinity for animal stories.” – F. Caradec.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where talking to an animal for many is a sign that something is wrong with the speaker. In the story “The Doctor Donkey” people laugh at a boy talking to a donkey. While talking to a cat and dog is still acceptable, starting a conversation with a pig, cow, chicken, or donkey could be interpreted as a sign of some disorder.

The boy from the story has “a special gift” to understand the language of animals. The donkey tells him about his hard life which, by the way, can be seen even without the donkey saying anything. However, is it necessary to have some “special gift” to understand that no one wants to be captured, tortured, or slaughtered? This story shows that all people can understand animals only if they really want to. Sadly, most just don’t want to. To understand the feelings of animals, we do not have to know their secret language or to become experts. At its core, emotions can be divided into two categories: primary (primary) and derived (secondary). Many psychologists claim that the basic primary emotions are: joy, sadness, fear, and anger. In the last few years, two more have been added to them: surprise and disgust.

It is clear that animal body language shows this whole spectrum of primary emotions and an even greater number of states. Primary emotions are an instinctive response to the demands of the environment and animals have them just like humans. We don’t have to be “animal language speakers” to see when animals are stressed, alert, anxious, angry, peaceful, relaxed, threatened, or need space.

Animals in books

The animal world is one of the greatest inspirations in literature for children and young people. Writers portray this animal world in different ways. One of them is giving animals the ability to speak in a human language. The most famous stories in which animals speak are fables – short stories with moral lessons. In them, writers use animal speech to point out human weaknesses and flaws or to criticize politics and society in general. In their stories, animals embody human traits such as naivety, courage, cunning, greed, stupidity, and laziness. Of course, children don’t always have to understand the moral lesson of fables, but they still love those stories because often their favorite animals (such as a lion, fox, bear, donkey, owl, or lamb) appear in them. Animals in fables behave like humans because they represent people, their traits, and relationships. However, there are stories in which animals represent themselves.

In some stories and novels about animals (White Fang by Jack London), they do not speak, but from their actions and behavior, we learn about their characters and relationships with man. Children especially like books in which animals are placed in their natural environment and in which man lives in the wild and in harmony with animals (Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling).

Animal speak for themselves

People have a habit of “reading the thoughts of their pets”, interpreting what their gestures mean, and trying to figure out what they need and want without trying to “read thoughts” of other animals, like a cow, pig, or chicken. That is one reason why we have vegan books where domestic and wild animals have an opportunity to speak for themselves and say how they feel. These domestic and wild animals from vegan stories are not protected by law, unlike pets, so the authors of these books can also be considered lawyers who fight for animal rights. In vegan books, animals that are able to talk show that they are emotional, intelligent, and social living beings; nothing more or less than pets.

In vegan children’s books, animals “talk” about their hard life on the farm, about being used for food, cosmetics, clothes, dreaming about escaping from the farm, or daring to do it. In addition to domestic animals, vegan children’s stories often include wild animals that are captured in zoos, which people hunt in the wild to also make expensive shoes and bags.

For vegan book writers who advocate animal rights, the challenge is to write a book that will appeal to non-vegan readers as well. This can be achieved by using imagination and humor as essential ingredients in shaping a literary work. Although vegan books contain very important messages, it is good that they also have aesthetic and literary value and that they are written in a way that is emotionally acceptable to children. After all, what is the best indicator that a child liked a book? That they will want you to read it to them over and over again.