Friday, September 24, 2010

Veganism in the News

I've been MIA for the past few weeks with a house-guest from out of the country. Expect some blog updates in the upcoming week on a variety of topics, including an update on what some other abolitionists have been up to recently. In the interim:

School Cafeterias More Vegan-Friendly

In a brief article in SUNY at Geneseo's paper The Lamron, self-described vegan student Eve Anderson described how her fears of a french fries diet while away at college were quashed by the variety of offerings at various locations on her campus for vegans. From raw fruits and vegetables to meat substitutes in ordinarily animal-based wraps and "peanut butter and apple" panini" to hot vegan soup, Anderson found herself pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to eat a well-balanced diet as a vegan on her campus this year. Anderson focuses on diet in her article, but given that her article deals specifically with the availability of animal product free food on her campus, it's not clear that Anderson has jumped on the "veganism by mouth" trend.

I think that articles like these are encouraging and I hope that vegans who read this blog and who are at college or university this year take some time to write to their own school papers about the ethics of consuming animals and of why veganism is the right choice and that you speak to your cafeteria managers or your student council representatives about increasing vegan options on campus so that everyone can get a chance to see that you don't need to use animals to eat delicious healthy food while at school. I also hope that vegans who read this blog and who are students take those opportunities, either in their student papers or while talking to their representatives to discuss how other animal products in items other than food can easily -- and should -- be avoided. Please take some time to talk to others about veganism.


Just Another Food Choice?

Seattle Weekly's chief mocker of vegans and animal rights activists, Jason Sheehan, wrote a piece yesterday to purportedly highlight a so-called "intelligent debate" concerning the ethics of using animals for food he wishes to encourage (and apparently facilitate) in his "From the Gut" series. Sheehan recently wrote about a CNN interview with chef Tim Love, in which Love promotes meat-eating by giving five facetious reasons to not stop eating animal flesh. Among other things, Love called vegetarians and vegans "preachy" (adding, of course, that he was just "kidding" and insisting that "[s]ome of [his] best friends are vegetarian" -- and then going on to call vegetarians and vegans "holier-than-thou"). Love defends meat-eating, insisting that it "provides much-needed protein, iron and amino acids" (all available from plant-based sources, of course) and then making comments like:

If I want to eat meat, let me eat it in peace. Nobody is forcing you to be a vegetarian, so why are you trying to force us?
He also tells readers that meat tastes better than vegetables and that they'd "get a lot of funny looks if [they] tried roasting a pumpkin at a tailgate instead of a pig. Essentially, Love puts animal flesh on par with with any plant-based food, emphasizing the current status quo by which it's considered quite normal to eat the body parts of slaughtered sentient non-humans.

Seattle Weekly's Sheehan took off running with this (i.e. spotted the potential to further mock those who weigh the ethics of animal use more seriously) to provide an additional ten reasons people should not stop eating animals. He then provides two reader responses arguing for and against "vegetarianism" and presents them as reasonable and equally worthwhile to consider in their logic and validity. Sadly, the supposedly "pro-" animal opinion focuses on vegetarianism, stopping short of veganism. The reader, "Herbivore", first argues against eating animal flesh for environmental and human health reasons and then delves into animal suffering and factory farming, mentioning animal intelligence and then focusing on animal use that involves slaughter. Herbivore's arguing against the ethics of animal slaughter is followed-up with a list of "the vast array of vegetarian" options available for humans to eat, including "[b]ean burritos, mushroom pizza, pasta with pesto sauce" -- all dishes customarily made using dairy and with no mention made by Herbivore of animal-free versions of them.

So, the "pro-" animal argument in Sheehan's piece is, unfortunately, not really arguing against animal use, but just arguing for human benefits and against some forms of animal treatment. It's a shame that the "either/or" presented by Sheehan is firmly lodged in perpetuating speciesism either way you look at it. Given that so many large groups in the animal advocacy movement fail to promote actually not using non-human animals at all, it should be no surprised that "some" use of animals would be presented in mainstream media as an extreme stance.
Sheehan asks for further "intelligent" reader comments to this supposed debate, but the truth is that the debate is not about animal use, but about how far we should moderate animal use while continuing to engage in it. Arguing either side of it, of course, fails to take the interests and rights of non-human animals seriously and misses the point altogether that veganism should be the moral baseline. For more information on this, please visit Prof. Gary L. Francione's Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach website.


Cassidy said...

I missed your posts! Glad you are back!

M said...

Thanks!! I've been mostly offline for the past month because my sweetie's been visiting from out of the country. I hope to catch up this next week. :-)