Friday, October 24, 2008

Veganism in the News

The Baltimore City Paper printed an article in its Eats section by a woman called Violet Glaze (I think she usually covers entertainment). She starts off by asserting that she's a vegan, "but not a very good one". She refers to her "ravenous, carnivorous muscles" sending "red alerts" to her subconscious when she purportedly becomes protein deficient (perpetuating the myth that vegans don't get enough protein). She quips that her skimping on seitan leads to dreams of animal flesh, and that although she knows that she can get sufficient protein from vegetable sources, that it's animal flesh her body craves anyway. She presents veganism as a struggle against these sorts of cravings.

She uses this as a diving board to plunge into -- you guessed it -- an argument for the ethical superiority of eating animals grown and
slaughtered locally, versus eating plant-based foods that are shipped in from far away. She quotes Barbra Kingsolver, who mused that opting for plant-based foods and meat alternatives from great distances leads us to "overlook the suffering of victims of hurricanes, famines and wars brought on this world by profligate fuel consumption". Therefore, we're left with an either / or situation where you can either eat local animals and their products or be a vegetarian and have your animal-free food shipped in from far away, which apparently leads to great human suffering. The assumption is that all meat and animal products are local and that everything else has to circle the globe to get to us.

Glaze accepts this either / or scenario and refers to the "rug of vegetarian moral superiority" being "yanked out from under" her feet (perpetuating the myth that vegetarians are, by default, smug and holier-than-thou types). So her solution to what she feels is a true ethical dilemma left in her lap by Kingsolver? To eat insects, since (as she puts it) "an insect is practically a plant, right?". In the end, she asserts that her experiment has likely left her a more "dedicated" vegan, but she continues by saying that if she ever sees insects on a menu in the future that although the "saint" in her won't order them, the "omnivore" in her might.

(Photo of the article's author from the Baltimore City Paper)

In other news: Time magazine recently featured an article in its "10 Questions" series that allowed readers to ask Ingrid Newkirk of PETA some questions. I liked her response about the whole Ben & Jerry's breast milk campaign that left so many people outraged and ranting. Newkirk essentially points out that it was indeed a joke to get people -- as well as the media -- talking about how cow's milk is meant for calves. I didn't quite like how she answered the question concerning how one could fight for animal rights in a world filled with poverty and starvation. She focused on the unhealthiness of meat, when so much more could have been said.

I'm not a huge fan of PETA, but in all, I guess that this bit by her in as mainstream and conservative a publication as
Time wasn't all that bad.

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