Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bits and Blurbs on Veganism in the News

Zimbabwe's Thought Leader (part of the Mail & Guardian online network) featured an opinion piece today that 'ignorant' just doesn't seem to qualify adequately. Sipho Hlongwane's piece "Vegetarians Cause Me Grief" is just one long anti-vegan diatribe. Using 'vegetarianism' and 'vegetablism' interchangeably, the writer at least seems to get that veganism is something altogether different (for whatever little that's worth):

There’s the other type of vegetarians. The really pale, thin ones. Vegans. The fanatics. I like to think of them as the provisional wing of vegetablism. I’ve had the odd run-in with these vegan people. My reaction is always the same. Shame, man. All that malnutrition can’t be fun. And their reaction to that is always the same. They faint, but only after losing too much energy, trying to swing a punch at me. Tsk. Really man, shame.
And if you didn't quite get out of that last bit that he's not particularly fond of vegans:
My philosophy is quite simple. Live and let live — in the case of vegans, live and let die. I do me and you do you. I may find your dietary habits odd and perhaps quite insane, but if that’s what you want to eat, then bon appetit. Trouble is, the reciprocal is never true. Vegetarians cause me so much grief. They’re the biggest source of under-the-skin, itchy irritation in my life, more than taxi drivers, traffic cops and government workers. As soon as they see meat on my plate, they’re at my heels, yapping away like a pack of excitable terriers.
We get it, Hlongwane. You're snappy and clever and needed to scratch an itch and to earn a buck. We also get that it's not just the cows you mention that are full of methane.

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Nosing around online, I uncovered yet another former "vegans" getting their rocks off slicing up nonhuman animals article ("Conscious Carnivores, Ethical Butchers are Changing Food Culture"):
Why go to Jim and Wendy Parker's Dallas hog farm to meet the Red Wattle and scratch his belly, Reed has been asked, knowing you'll eventually butcher that animal?

"To me, that's exactly how it should be. At that point, there's no argument against eating meat. These pigs live a good life. They are animals raised to be food. And that's OK."
Former self-described "militant vegan" Berlin Reed's obviously spent too much time reading HSUS pamphlets. And that's not OK. There's nothing good about living a life where your only purpose is to end up on someone's plate, guy, whether or not someone scratches your belly before scalding it or slicing it open.

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Word on the street (OK, on the Examiner website, really) is that Philadelphia is going to be the only US city hosting a demonstration on January 30 for the "World Day for the Abolition of Meat". Philadelphia Animal Advocate Examiner Megan Drake touts it as being a good way to encourage veganism, but does it really? It seems to me that the article does a pretty good job of explaining all on its own that it doesn't:
The purpose of 'World Day for the Abolition of Meat' is to inform the public of how much suffering meat eating causes non-human animals and how unnecessary it is to human beings. Goals are twofold: encouraging vegetarianism and veganism as forms of boycotting the products of the animal farming industry and secondly to explicitly request the abolition of meat production.
The truth is that singling out meat as a cause of animal suffering side-steps the fact that there is as much--and often much more--suffering involved in dairy and egg production than in raising animals for their flesh. Protesting the consumption of meat to promote vegetarianism also misses this point altogether. Furthermore, saying that one is protesting for the "abolition of meat" to encourage veganism makes about as much sense as saying that one is protesting for the "abolition of yogurt" to promote veganism. You want to promote veganism? Promote veganism!

Additionally, focusing on suffering turns the
treatment into the main issue and feeds right into the popular "happy meat" trend, by which many let themselves get lulled by producers and animal welfare groups (like HSUS) into thinking that it's actually just fine to eat the flesh or excretions of some non-humans, since small supposed improvements in the way they're caged or tortured their entire lives somehow validate enslaving them and slaughtering them in the first place. (Whether those supposed improvements actually even lead to less suffering is another issue altogether, best saved for another post.)

8 comments:

OhSoooSara said...

I want to thank you again for your amazing blog!

Vegan and non-vegan friends of mine keep posting links to this article...declaring a great victory for animals.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/26/dog-meat-china

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I know abolitionists recognize this is far from a victory and I am doing my best to respond to my friends appropriately.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Hi Sara! Thanks so much for the compliment.

I read about this earlier today. It's not a victory, really. If it actually does go through (and from what I've read, it seems unlikely), all it will do is reinforce speciesism. In this case, it will reinforce that some animals are food, while other animals are "pets".

Mandee said...

It's irritating to read articles where all vegans are described as annoying and weak when we're not. It's a shame that "articles" like that even get published.

Jasonw3 said...

I always hear the whole "I don't get in a vegan's face so why does a vegan get in my face" argument and it frustrates me to no end.

Not only are we often forced to be around dead flesh meal (and the smell that comes with it), but we also have people like this guy constantly telling us how unhealthy we are and family members constantly making dumb jokes about the food or how veggies can feel pain too.

We live in a meat-based world--less than two per cent of the U.S. population describes themselves as vegan. It is far easier for non-vegans to ignore us than for vegans to ignore the dead animal around every turn. Not to mention the fact that there are other beings involved that people like this guy are imposing far more than just "under-the-skin, itchy irritation."

Ahem... now that I got that out of the way, thanks for the blog. I just happened upon it from Twitter and I'm definitely diggin' it.

Richard Frost said...

Good article Mylene. Hearing the "Live and let live" comment is something I hear quite a lot when talking to nonvegans here. It's a bit of a strange comeback, given that in any other context like rape or abuse it displays a lack of moral understanding and compassion.

Purity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Purity said...

The "Live and Let Live" argument is a fine example of a nonvegan's desperate attempt at taking words out of context and having it fit their argument ("what? So I'm a rapist now because I eat meat?!"). It's all projection and their frustration can sometimes be a source of ironic comedy for vegans. It is funny when the majority is acting as if they're in the minority.

Vanilla Rose said...

Ha. Did you see this? "Loves animals, hates, vegetarians". Yeah, riiiiiiiiight! ">Inane argument from Julie Bindel.