Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bits and Blurbs in the Media about Veganism

The news has been out for a few days -- Mike Tyson proclaimed that he's gone vegan. What exactly he means by "vegan" is questionable, however, since a few months ago, Animal Planet announced that Tyson would be starring in its new reality show about pigeon racing, trained by experts while competing against pigeon-racing pros. From "green gossip" website Ecorazzi:

“I’m honored to be a part of this monumental show on Animal Planet,” says Tyson, who’s first ever fight as a child was in defense of his birds. “I feel a great pride acting as an official representative for all the pigeon fancier’s out there. I want people to see why we love these birds."
Tyson echoed what dozens of "happy meat" farmers have been claiming to the public for several months now through mouthpieces like Jonathan Safran Foer -- i.e. that the exploitation of sentient non-humans is admirable, and that it even involves something akin to love, as long as their treatment appears "right". The thing is, though, that there's nothing "right" about enslaving living creatures and using them as toys for human pleasure. There's certainly nothing "vegan" about it, anyway. I can only surmise that Tyson's interpretation of veganism embraces that unfortunate misrepresentation that attempts to limit it to its dietary component. I suspect we'll read more about it in the future -- maybe even groan about it a little more, since Tyson appears to be working hard to make his comeback as a kinder gentler sort.


Speaking of celebrities (mis)flinging the word "vegan" around: Glee star Lea Michele was being discussed by vegans on Twitter a few months back for having self-identified herself as such. According to teen gossip site JSYK, however, Michele recently clarified just what kind of "vegan" she is:
[I]n her recent interview with Asos magazine, the Glee star says that she's actually a macrobiotic vegan, who is reintroducing fish into her diet.
According to JSYK:
Even though a vegan diet is known to not include any animal foods, the macrobiotic vegan regimen does make allowances for fish 2-3 times per week. This is why the reintroduction of fish into Lea's diet still follows her original principles.
Principles, huh? I guess it's all good, since Michele (along with a number of other non-vegan celebrities) is also a huge supporter of PETA's anti-fur campaigns. I guess that too "still follows" Michele's "original principles", which obviously reflect that the use of some animals is somehow more morally significant than the use of others.


Roger Yates. said...

My elder brother - rest his soul - actually he's still alive - is/was a "pigeon fancier." Whenever I visited his house it was likely that there was at least one dead pigeon - neck-rung - in the dustbin.

He also wanted all free-living pigeons killed because they bring down the "racing pigeons."

Vanilla Rose said...

In the war, they gave pigeons medals for carrying messages, in peacetime they call them vermin!

I am pleased there are still celebrities out there who don't want to wear fur, I was massively disappointed when Maggie Gyllenhaal wore fox fur. However, I am annoyed at the misuse of the term vegan. Let non-vegans find another word for themselves, or go vegan for real!

M said...

Whenever I visited his house it was likely that there was at least one dead pigeon - neck-rung - in the dustbin.

He also wanted all free-living pigeons killed because they bring down the "racing pigeons."

That doesn't surprise me. So much for "love", huh?

Vanilla Rose: The problem with taking a stance against fur is that it singles it out as being somehow more morally problematic than other animal products, which it isn't. Leather is commonly worn daily by almost all non-vegans of either gender, while fur is generally worn occasionally by women--usually financially well-off women, which makes them all the more easy to vilify. Of course, it's much easier to heckle or throw paint-balls at a woman wearing a fur coat than it is to heckle or throw paint-balls at a biker wearing a leather vest and chaps, so anti-fur demonstrations are obviously more common on city streets than anti-leather demonstrations. The truth is that anti-fur campaigns are sexist and wrongheaded.

The point we should be making is that all animal exploitation is wrong. Promoting a single-issue campaign involving the occasional use of only some animals by mostly one gender (i.e. women) from mostly one segment of society (i.e. those with a bit more $$) doesn't get that point across at all. Particularly when you have celebrities championing the anti-fur cause, while visibly and unapologetically consuming all sorts of other animal products.

Nick said...

I hope that we don't have to come up with a new word for veganism someday, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to mean much anymore. It's not just celebrities and the media spreading these misconceptions. I live in a town full of leather-wearing "vegans" who occasionally "cheat" by eating animal products.

artsycraftsyivy said...

First I was embarrassed when I read that Mike Tyson was vegan. He's not exactly a positive role model. Then when I saw he was doing a pigeon-racing show on AP, I was thoroughly perplexed. How is that vegan? As for Lea Michele, what the hell is wrong with her? She's not vegan. She's not vegetarian. She's macrobiotic. That's it and that's all. Enjoy the mercury, Lea.

c said...

Nuh uh. Mike Tyson is nowhere near the definition of vegan. To put it bluntly: when will we stop fucking up the word? I remember that EcoRazzi pigeon bit and how I got into a debate with others because "Mike Tyson loves pigeons" and how it's "not cruel" that he wants them to spend their time running around for his amusement.

Celebrities should be the last people who should be endorsing veganism. Yes, for the short term marketing, it's great. For the long term, it's disastrous for they are not only fickle but misinform the public as well as aid in cheapening a movement down to pop culture levels.

I think the best teachers are full on advocates or those who are deceased (Donald Watson comes to mind)