PCRM defends their ridiculous cheese thighs campaign »
We posted last week about PCRM’s* idiotic cheese campaign and just hoped it would go away, but they’re back this week with even more ridiculousness. Neal Barnard, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, wasn’t content with spreading crap on his own site; he wants to infest the rest of the internet with his rationalizations. Barnard’s piece on Crazy Sexy Life is super-disappointing and filled with hateful rhetoric disguised as caring. Moreover, so much of this shit is ludicrous coming from someone who is a PSYCHIATRIST—aren’t you supposed to care about the emotional wellbeing of others? I feel bad for anyone who was under his psychiatric care. BUT MOVING ON.
Here’s the deal with this campaign: If PCRM wanted to tackle the issue of clogged arteries from animal cholesterol, why not show that? Because people of ALL sizes deal with it, and it’s HONEST. Oh, yes, but it’s not as provocative as the big belly.
What REALLY sucks about this campaign is that it sounds reasonable and supportive, but it’s actually the same old crap (“I’m not racist, but…”). The hypocrisy of Barnard’s “of course fat people shouldn’t be shamed because they’re HELPLESS VICTIMS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY but we should totally SHAME FAT PEOPLE SO THEY STOP BEING HELPLESS VICTIMS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY” approach — it’s so twisted! I’ll leave you with this bit of business that reader/occasional contributor/great person Rick Kelley left in the comments on our last post. It’s outstanding, and helps to explain exactly what’s so fucked about this tactic:
The “angle” these ads use — namely, “fat bodies are disgusting, so go vegan” — is shared with countless advertising campaigns selling every sort of bullshit imaginable, to all of our detriment. They posit a particular kind of “desirable body” and shame those who fail to attain it. Branding veganism as a weight loss strategy doesn’t do anyone any favors, and it doesn’t make new vegans (unless week-long fad dieters count). These ads have nothing to do with health, not anymore than some soap or deodorant company is committed to health (and a garden-fresh scent). No one is disputing the health benefits of a plant-based diet — Forks Over Knives is routinely embraced, recommended, and celebrated throughout vegan circles, most definitely on this site — but rather rejecting the notion that a “vegan brand” to sell “ethical eating” by way of a “stop being so fucking fat, fatties” campaign is anything but mean-spirited and counter-productive.
Here are a few reasons why, from the practical to the ethical:
(1) More than anything else, this resembles diet ads, and constructs veganism as a diet. Diets are by their nature temporary and end-goal oriented. If someone goes vegan to lose weight and they don’t, it seems unlikely they’d continue. If they do, it seems likely they’ll stop after they’ve attained their goal.
(2) Whether or not someone loses weight, the use and property-status of nonhumans isn’t remotely addressed, because there is no framework or analysis to understand it. You can go through a two-week vegan diet weight loss plan cloaked in fur and leather, occasionally shooting a dog, as easily as not.
(3) It’s alienating and reinforces notions of vegan exclusivity, superiority, and contempt for human animals.
(4) By playing into normative ideals of the human body, it reinforces patriarchal notions of beauty. Despite the inclusion of a male-presenting body in the ad, no one being at all serious would argue that advertising (including this one) primarily targets men. The idea here, as FUCKING EVERYWHERE, is that female-presenting bodies are by definition thin; if not, they are gross and in need of recuperation (i.e. shaming).
(5) By focusing on isolated, individual bodies (and certainly not whole bodies) outside of any world they might inhabit, it erases people’s lived experiences. It erases the fact that different cultures view bodies in different ways; it erases the realities of people’s access to healthy foods, which are enormously pre-determined by class structures; and it erases the most basic fact of all, which is that we live in these bodies we find ourselves in, the social value of which is determined by things often outside of our control (like fucking PCRM ads, apparently).
To end this manifesto/comment, I’d just point out that one thing a “vegan movement” (should it ever arrive) needs to do is to link nonhuman animal oppression with all the other oppressive structures that dominate our lives (like patriarchy, class oppression, racism, rigid systems of normative ideals, capitalist marketing as a means of social change, etc.). Damaging nonsense like this hurts that future effort.
I encourage PCRM (and really everyone ever) to read Health at Every Size, learn about our so-called “Obesity Epidemic,” and read up on the big business of fat hate. I wrote this same shit to PETA last year but you know, since PETA and PCRM are literally in bed together (UGH MY EYES! Seriously, picturing that just sent shivers down my spine), it can’t hurt to remind them. Show compassion for everyone and work on effective campaigns that breed love and respect for all. THE END.
*PCRM has such great campaigns, why are they focusing energy and money on this one? My experience is that Animal Rights groups that focus on too many campaigns just do them all poorly. Why not work on one thing and do it really, really well?
Top 10 links of the week!: A mad dash with the track team of veganism! »
Another video sent in by my grandpa! He always finds me the best stuff. I want to meet lil’ gorillas! PS: Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
A Grist writer attacks soy and is super annoying! Like we always say, soy is destroying the rainforest because of THE BEEF INDUSTRY! She even says that—listen to this action: “Many vegetarians turn to soy as a meat substitute, but the soy industry is inextricably linked to meat. Some 80 percent of the conventional soybeans grown in this country end up on factory farms as livestock feed.” Um … makes what sense this does? As my new favorite person J. Kenji López-Alt responds: “Because the rest of the soy is used to feed cows, the soy that I eat is somehow tainted? I mean, water is essential for the manufacture of weapons. Am I being complicit in their construction if I don’t stop drinking it?” Love that guy.
Chelsea C. alerted me to this story a while ago, what do you think? This artist makes fur stuff out of of roadkill. Chelsea thinks it’s grody to the max but I don’t know if it bothers me. What’s your take? Discussion topic of the week!
If you want to read something nauseating, than this HuffPo post is for you!: Do Not Compare my Dogs to Pigs. Ever. It’s really just bizarre. She doesn’t say what exactly bothers her about pigs. She does say stuff like this: “If you have the audacity to compare my working dogs to my edible livestock, I have already stopped listening to you.” Edible livestock? What constitutes edible? Are people edible too? Can I just put edible in front of whatever I want? I also like how she has to add that her dogs are “working dogs,” because unemployed dogs are the worst.
Reader Alexis M. sent this link in and had the following comment:
“As a student with a degree in biology from an Ivy League university’s school of agriculture and hands-on experience with dogs and farm animals alike, I am particularly ashamed and upset to see such biologically incorrect statements being perpetuated on the Huffington Post. Culturally it is true that Western values make us see dogs and farm animals as different groups to which we attribute arbitrarily different anthropomorphic characteristics, but such views are solely those perpetuated by the human psyche and not the true biological nature of the beasts at hand. As someone with college training in evolutionary biology and comparative anatomy in particular, such statements that dogs are “better” or more emotionally proficient than pigs reeks of human hubris and an inability to remove oneself from societal influences to see unbiased scientific data. In continuing to perpetuate Western hegemonic values of “speciesm” you further reinforce the fact that we as a society can designate subgroups such as “farm animal” from which to remove rights, emotions, and intelligence, and thus remove the need to provide such subgroups with compassion or justice. I am ashamed that such unabashed cultural biases towards accepting violence and lack of scientific rigor are being displayed on public venue to influence others, but such is the nature of our society, unfortunately.”
Dang! Well said, Alexis!
Over at Crazy Sexy Life, Shell Feijo tells of her experiences with weight and veganism. I can’t believe what some woman said to her! People are whacked.
Hey, you! Don’t forget to read Laura’s Week in Vegan! And leave her comments so she knows you care!
The Veg Speed Dating blog has an interesting post about masculinity and veganism—does being a veggie male hurt your chances of landing a lady? Tell me!
This Dish is Veg has four reasons why networks should add veg cooking shows! Are there more?
How cool would you be if you could help care for animals in times of disaster? Hint: SO COOL! Guess what, S.F. peeps! You can take Disaster Animal Response Team training!
Lastly, hey guys! If you have any links you think I should share (don’t be bashful with your own stuff!), email me! Otherwise I have to do all the work myself! Bleh.