Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Atlantic's Foodie Max Fisher's Misguided Rant at Veganism

In an opinion piece entitled "The Fervour of the Vegan" a few days ago, The Atlantic's Food Channel producer, Max Fisher, ends up ranting at what he describes as a sort of ascetic righteousness he sees vegans as possessing. Fisher pretty much inadvertently lifts his shirt up to readers to display all of the welts borne of his own obvious self-flagellation, though, when he writes

I know all too well about the cruelties of egg and dairy factory farms, cruelties to which, as I pat myself on the back for not eating meat, I continue to contribute every day.

Facing this basic contradiction of vegetarianism made me recognize a weight I'd been carrying ever since I gave up meat: I resent vegans. I resent that their mere, if rare, existence calls attention to the hypocrisy underlying the vegetarianism so central to my daily life.
This very quote pretty much says it all. Fisher is acknowledging that he is a hypocrite, but has neither the balls nor the sense of accountability that would entail his having to address this hypocrisy by changing his own life. Instead, he shirks off his self-loathing by directing hostility at vegans for holding the mirror in front of him so that he can see himself.

That makes about as much sense as a serial rapist continuing to rape occasionally, while ranting about the existence of self-help groups consisting of reformed rapists for making him feel guilty for continuing to rape.

He continues, in an accusatory tone, stating "
vegans are a blow to any confidence I feel in my chosen lifestyle" and asks what should, in fact, be a rhetorical question: "If I really cared about animal welfare, wouldn't I be vegan?"

Indeed, Max Fisher. Indeed.


unpopular vegan essays said...

Well said, Mylene. Thank you.

M said...

Thank *you*, Dan.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about analyzing where our products and food come from and that our system is at best broken. But, I'd like to know how you feel about free-range organic farms, where the sweet, innocent cows and pigs and chickens are treated like royalty until their death. Which then leads me to: Where do you stand on the death penalty? Where do you stand on abortion? Aren't these all equivalent to purporting that Mr. Fisher's fairly innocuous, and may I add PERSONAL, story is that of a serial rapist? I find it completely myopic to draw this connection.

M said...

Hi Anonymous. I'm responding to this while going on the assumption that, based on what you've written, you haven't really read my blog post.

Given that Mr. Fisher tweeted an outright untruthful accusation that I, in fact, called him a rapist, it's no surprise that you would also misinterpret or misrepresent what I wrote.

What I was drawing attention to was the ridiculousness of his stating that he resents vegans because their mere existence "calls attention to the hypocrisy underlying [his] vegetarianism". I said that his doing so makes about as much sense as someone who rapes occasionally (and who asserts that he knows it's wrong) ranting about reformed rapists and blaming their existence for his guilt. If you do something you know and feel is wrong and you feel guilty about it, it's ludicrous to ignore the obvious and to try to blame people who don't do that thing for your guilt.

Let me put it this way: If you do something that you know is wrong (e.g. cheat on your tax return), then it's sort of silly to get pissy with others who don't engage in that activity (e.g. cheating on their tax returns) and to blame their existence for contributing to your guilt.

Basically, you can insert almost any term. What he said makes as much sense as someone who occasionally does 'x' ranting that he resents people who formerly did 'x'--but who've since ceased doing so altogether--because their mere existence makes him feel guilty about the fact that he occasionally chooses to continue to do 'x' (i.e. even though the person admits that he or she feels that doing 'x' is wrong).

As for the rest of your comment:

"I'd like to know how you feel about free-range organic farms, where the sweet, innocent cows and pigs and chickens are treated like royalty until their death."

I feel the same way about the confinement and slaughter of these animals as I would the confinement and slaughter of human animals. For the sake of argument, let me present you with this: If I kept you confined against your will for five years until I murdered you, would whether or not I beat you during those five years affect whether or not it was acceptable that I confined you against your will and then murdered you?

Furthermore, the scenario you're presenting just doesn't exist. Peaceful Prairie, an abolitionist animal sanctuary, has some excellent information on the myth of humane farming that should be read by anyone who's interested in doing some critical thinking about it, rather than just buying into the lies being perpetuated about it. And the truth is that whether or not these animals are being treated cruelly doesn't change the very basic wrongness of the fact that they're confined against their will so that we can kill them.

Kimberly said...

Awww poor thing, how DARE we exist making him feeling all bad about not being able to quit the egg and dairy? ;-)

I read it to my omnivore Sister (that you know from vegpeople) she just sighed and said "why doesn't he just stop with the egg and dairy already if it makes him feel bad instead of blaming others like that" I don't have a problem with not everyone being vegan myself, but if your own chosen lifestyle bothers you so much, you might just make an effort and do something productive about it.

M said...

"if your own chosen lifestyle bothers you so much, you might just make an effort and do something productive about it"