Building an Ark: 101 Solutions to Animal Suffering.


288 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-86571-566-0
DDC 179.3




Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



There’s a simple thing you can do to help animals: Stop eating them. A vegan lifestyle is only one action suggested in this calm, thought-provoking review of man’s relationship with animals and ways to expand the worldwide “circle of compassion.”


The work is unique in both its content and its format.


Those horrified by the cruelty we inflict on animals might shy away from the presumed content: how many more stories of suffering can we be expected to read? Relax—the emphasis is on the positives, examples of how the global community is travelling toward “a critical mass of consciousness” of our connection to all life. The problem is presented—neither minimized nor draped in excessive gore—and then the authors move on to point out actions that are being taken, successes achieved, and ways to be part of the movement to cultivate compassion. The underlying philosophies are that there is no sharp line between humans and the rest of the animal world, and that we have the capacity to save our planet and create the world we want. We can “work together for a compassionate, sustainable future.”


The work is in two sections: 25 problems and 101 solutions. The problems are presented as broad-stroke issues such as hunting for subsistence versus sport; factory farming; puppy mills; use of animals for product testing, entertainment and fashion; water contamination; habitat loss; and climate change. The more specific solutions range from respecting what goes into our meals to choices we make as consumers and as vote-wielding citizens. Building on the assumption that the majority of animal suffering is caused by lack of awareness, the work gives hundreds of examples of accomplishments to date, from animal protection bylaws in Italy and the ban on fox hunting in England to school projects in California and making the sale of foie gras illegal in Chicago. The 101 solutions include action ideas for individuals, groups, industries, and governments at all levels. They stretch from homeowners refusing to use glue traps to treaties banning bottom trawling in international waters. From seahorses to elephants, chickens to orcas, the emphasis is on finding suffering-free options for human-animal interactions.


In format, the book limits each issue—problem or solution—to a two-page spread which includes an overview heavy on stats, success stories, a photo, a dynamic quotation, and a sidebar of three to six web URLs. This approach, plus a thorough index, makes the work approachable for the general reader and gives quick access to information for reference purposes. As a unique, powerful “call for hope, compassion, action,” the book is an excellent addition to the literature on environmental and sustainability issues.


Smith, Ethan, and Guy Dauncey., “Building an Ark: 101 Solutions to Animal Suffering.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,