Thursday, October 14, 2010

Introducing Jamie Oliver -- Erik Marcus' New Favourite "Food" Activist

I don't read read Erik Marcus' blog. After having listened to the podcast interview in which he embarrassed himself gushing all over "happy meat" promoting Jonathan Safran Foer (read my previous posts about it here and here), I realized that what everybody had been telling me was true, and that Erik Marcus is probably one of the most anti-vegan vegans writing online today. I'm not sure if it's just misguided self-promotion or if he's really that twisted up inside about animal rights advocacy--maybe it's just a clumsy combination of the two. His vitriolic swipes at those who take the interests and rights of non-humans seriously enough to actually advocate not exploiting them are unfortunate. On the other hand, his continuous praise or spotlighting of celebrities who promote eating animals and their secretions is just plain bizarre.

A vegan friend sent me a link to something Marcus wrote a few days ago in which he reveals he has a new potential bosom buddy. Marcus compares himself to poor famous Jamie Oliver, another "extraordinarily sensitive" bloke with whom Marcus feels a sense of kinship since they're both subjected to "misguided and vicious appraisals of [their] work" by people who "deliberately misunderstand [their] efforts". What brought about this sense of kinship is a recent article in The Guardian about Oliver's "food" activism (which involves pretending that there is such a thing as the ethical consumption of non-human animals). Of course, Marcus clarifies this by juxtaposing his thoughts on Oliver with his customary whine against people ("pseudo-activists" he call them) who criticize his ongoing maligning of unequivocal vegan advocacy. On the other hand, Marcus calls the Guardian article on Jamie Oliver "the most important activist piece [he's] featured all year". Heck, Marcus even goes so far as to say that "[i]f you care about animal advocacy it’s a must-read". (Of course, he said that about Foer's "happy meat" endorsing book Eating Animals, as well, so his judgment calls when it comes to reading recommendations for animal advocates is somewhat questionable.)

Oh, and Marcus? You're not in my "tribe", buddy. If being part of that scant 1% you say is "actually working to create change" means actively promoting those who profit off of and perpetuate animal exploitation, then I really have to wonder what "change" it is exactly that you're trying to create. I'd like to see a world where people stop treating non-human animals as things: What sort of world is it that you really want? Is promoting anything-other-than-veganism really "what you see is working"? I don't see it working for those people around me who are intelligent enough to handle an actual vegan message. I certainly don't see it working for the non-human animals whose lives are taken to end up part of your kindred spirit Jamie Oliver's Easy to Go meals. This may come as a surprise to you, but advocating for non-human animals should be about the non-human animals. It shouldn't be about self-promotion. And it definitely shouldn't be about playing martyr.

Please visit Gary L. Francione's Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach website for some tips on how to start educating others about veganism today.

13 comments:

Abby Bean said...

Bravo! I have become increasingly more perplexed by those Markus chooses to latch on to as the face of vegan.com; I think he's just trying to keep his name in the news b/c he's no longer relevant.

OhSoooSara said...

His post is mind boggling. From Erik Marcus, I sense a deep desperation to be liked and admired. I can think of no other reason for his backasswards approach the issues he attempts to address. A vegan praising a guy who cooks dead animals on television to an international audience while praising McDonald's is absolutely ludicrous.

Vanilla Rose said...

I like Jamie Oliver and fellow food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, despite their not being vegan or even vegetarian. it is a pity that they aren't vegan, but at least they get why we are. Or at least, they get why we don't eat meat.

H F-W made a vegan meal for the 2 pagans who had apparently persuaded mice to leave River Cottage.

I like that J O has been prepared to say children shouldn't be fed rubbish at school, and I like H F-W for promoting local food. But, of course, there is nothing incompatible with veganism in promoting healthy and local food! Healthy, local, vegan-organically grown food!

So, of course my praise for Jamie and Hugh is muted, but I hope one day they'll go vegan, just as I hope that for everyone else who isn't one already.

Patty H. said...

Vanilla Rose - They may "get" why you are vegan, but if they truly "get" why I am vegan, they are even more deplorable. Veganism does promote greater health and a cleaner environment, but veganism is about justice for those that have no voice. Once anyone realizes that, it becomes the only morally right thing to do. If J O and H F-W "get" that and still choose to act immorally by continuing to exploit animals (and make a living out of encouraging others to do so), it is unforgivable.

I,too, hope that they go vegan one day.

Great post, Mylene.

Lucas said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20W_R-wWFA8&has_verified=1

What a sensitive guy!

Paola said...

Regarding the video Lucas just linked.. it is absolutely disgusting... How can people talk about "respect" for animals if they're gonna kill them? I wonder if they would like that same kind of respect for themselves? Any animal rights activist who would support Jamie Oliver is sick in the head. It is such a shame that people like Erik Marcus get any attention at all, I can imagine they do get to confuse a lot of people, and drag them into this nonsense.

tustin said...

Uhh, what exactly is that picture supposed to convey?! That he can stay cool & unruffled even amidst the desperate ruffling of feathers? Is he modeling for America's Next Top Model? Perhaps the assignment was to maintain an icy disregard in the midst of shrieks and squawks and stench and miserable sights.

Yuli said...

Become a vegetarian is a choice, and I think we should not ban or say bad about a man who became a vegetarian, especially if they are happy to do it and get benefits for her body after becoming a vegetarian

Vanilla Rose said...

You're right, Patty. Let me amend what I previously wrote. Jamie and Hugh don't quite get it, but they do get it enough to respect us for our choices. It's only a start.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Vanilla Rose, is it really "getting it" when someone continues to promote the exploitation and consumption of non-human animals just because they refrain from vegan-bashing? If they actually "got" it, they'd go vegan and they'd stop profiting of the use of others.

Vanilla Rose said...

I apologise for my choice of words. I think they get why we make the choice, and respect our choice (NOT merely refraining from criticising us) that is a start.

Obviously, I would prefer it if they made the same choice themselves. We both would.

But I can't help feeling that in many ways it is harder for them to make the choice to go vegan than it is for us. True, having money makes it easier, but the media would put so much pressure on them, and they would be denounced by many if they renounced a large chunk of their previous choices. Of course, I hope they will do it anyway.

I am not trying to excuse their not going vegan, but I do think that the amount of flack they would get from meat eaters would make it really hard. Yes, yes, not as hard as being a battery hen, obviously.

I yearn for the day when a vegan version of Jamie or Hugh comes along: someone who does grow his or her own food vegan-organically, who does care about nutrition, and yet who is able to get TV companies and the media to take an interest in him or her.

Vanilla Rose said...

Basically, I do agree with Mylène that it is odd for any vegan to promote Jamie as a favourite food activist.

Vanilla Rose said...

Now that I am vegan, it seems so obvious, but there was a time when I resisted it. Wanted reasons to not change. Thought I couldn't cope. Didn't know how to answer questions put by carnist sceptics. Now, it seems so clear, it is easy for me to forget where I used to be.