Which Times reader makes the best case for ethical meat? A Vegansaurus voter’s guide »
Remember that contest the NY Times announced last month, calling on readers to “Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat”? The quintet of white dudes have chosen their finalists, and now you can read their six top essays and vote on which one makes the best case for (or against!) ethical meat.
I’ve quoted the best part of each one below, for your giggling/eye-rolling/cheering pleasure.
Contestant No. 1 says:
If it is not morally wrong to kill animals, then it shouldn’t horrify us to do so. That may be right. But this recognition has little tendency to remove the sense of horror we feel at what is going on.
Totally, contestant No. 1. If it’s not wrong, why is it so goddamn awful?
Contestant No. 2 says:
Almost 25 years after deciding it was wrong to eat animals, I now realize that it’s not that simple. There is an ethical option — a responsibility, even — for eating animals that are raised within a sustainable farm system and slaughtered with the compassion necessitated by our relationship.
Totally, contestant No. 2. You owe it to your “hapless chickens” to kill and eat them! If you’re not going to do it, how else will you prove your point?
Contestant No. 3 says:
Eating meat ethically, on this view, requires explaining why we kill by pointing to other things of moral worth. This does not justify the killing — if our situation is tragic, that cannot be our aim — but it does suggest how we can eat meat ethically, albeit wrongly.
Totally, contestant No. 3. On the scale of “murdering your children” to “buying some prepackaged chicken breasts at Costco because they’re already separated into servings and all you have to do is dump one on a pan and broil it and now your kids won’t starve on a busy Thursday night,” buying the dead chicken is less amoral.
Contestant No. 4 says:
For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.
Totally, contestant No. 4. We are all made of stars, which means if you say, “Thanks for not being a predator and for being made of delicious tissues, cow,” paying for someone to raise and kill and cut it up for you is like completing the circle of life. Also Native People, and Hakuna Matata.
Contestant No. 5 says:
Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, [lab-grown, in vitro meat] is perhaps the only ethical meat.
Totally, contestant No. 5. While it’d probably weird me the fuck out, if you really want meat, it’s got to be harmless, lab-grown tissues that were never part of a sentient being. I feel you.
And contestant No. 6 says:
The eating of animals is paramount to the production of food in a system that embraces the whole of reality. This is why eating meat is ethical. To not consume meat means to turn off a whole part of the natural world.
Totally, contestant No. 6. If you don’t eat meat, you might as well be a robot who eats oil, or like, one of those gross poor people who eat nothing but Oreos and Home Run Pies (for the fruit) and never sees the sun. It’s unrealistic not to eat meat!
I don’t know who I’m voting for. Maybe the proponent of the in vitro hamburger, because I like the “roadkill and pre-dead fish are the only ethical meat” argument. Maybe the one who points out that “killing things feels wrong because it is wrong, how about listening to your gut, jerks.” What about you? Who’s got your vote? You’ve only got till midnight tonight, April 24, to do it, so read up.
[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]
The New York Times wants to know why eating meat is ethical, I’d totally like to know too. »
NYT has issued an essay challenge that has had me chuckling all day:
“Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest”
I think this is an excellent challenge, because for real, tell me. However, I just can’t imagine a solid answer. Of course if I could, I probably wouldn’t be vegan.
Let’s pretend they don’t call everyone “carnivores” throughout the article, because I think they did that to appeal to the many omnivores who don’t understand what that word means. I cannot however ignore that they called vegans “[vegetarians’] hard-core inner circle.” Vegetarians are more like the soft shell of hard-core omnivores. If we were picking teams, I’d go with all the lactose-intolerant people first; you still have the death, but there’s a little less torture. But again, I guess they are trying to appeal to “carnivores” who only know vegans as The Other.
The panel of judges is my favorite part because it’s like, “let’s round up every white male who writes about why you should go vegan without actually going vegan!” Ta da: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. I think the white male part says more about society than food writing in particular but they could have found at least one vegan judge. Shouldn’t a solid argument be able to sway the opposition? The group we have here is pretty much dudes who are looking for a good reason to eat meat—that seems a little skewed.
I also love the rules:
Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.
Because you know they are still going to get a million and one essays about the American right to eat hamburgers and why bacon tastes good. Happy reading, bros!
I for one am really curious to see the winning essay. I’m going to be so disappointed if it’s the same-old bullshit! I would really like to see a proposed reason to eat meat other than “it tastes good” so I can respect my omnivorous peers a little more. What would really be funny though is if no one comes up with a winning essay. I mean, these dudes haven’t found the ethical reason to eat meat, and they’ve been working on that for a while! It would be really funny if the whole thing just dies because they couldn’t get a good enough entry.
What I’m really hoping is that after reading a million awful attempts to justify eating meat, these judges just get totally embarrassed that they aren’t vegan yet and finally walk the walk!
[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]
This Flavorwire post* on rejected book covers and their chosen counterparts is really interesting! What do you people think of the rejected Eating Animals cover (the one on the left)? Do you like it better or worse than the one they went with? I am not sure! I think I like the one they went with better, if only because it might make the book more appealing to meat-mouths. With a picture of a steak on the cover, it can more easily be dismissed as “animal rights propaganda” or, “THAT STEAK LOOKS TASTY IMMA EAT IT LOLZ.” I feel like our JSF has gotta be careful because lots of people are already geared up to jump on his ass about anything, from his age to his bank account to his bank account at his age, ya know? Can’t give people extra fodder to fuck with him. But maybe I’m way off.
Also, it should be said, that the guy who does JSF’s covers, Jon Gray, is THE MAN. His book covers are ridiculous! I want him to design mine but really, it’s an easy job: An extreme close-up of my face and the words, “DON’T HATE ME BECAUSE I’M SO BEAUTIFUL”** printed under it. Don’t know what the book’s about just yet.
*Inspired by the New York Times piece on rejected book covers which you should read if you haven’t reached your max for the month GODDAMMIT WORDS COSTING MONEY AND SHIT.
**I put the “so” in the title so I don’t get sued for using a direct quote. Does that happen? I don’t know, I’m no historian. Also, I’m so beautiful.
Fast & Furious Giveaway: Tickets to see Jonathan Safran Foer speak at the Herbst! »
YOU GUYS! We have some free tickets (at least two, maybe more!) to the City Arts & Lectures talk with Jonathan Safran Foer at the Herbst Theater TOMORROW (Wednesday, Sept. 21) NIGHT! Tickets are $20 but we’re giving ‘em away to a few lucky Vegansaurus readers!
For a chance to win, let us know your favorite animal in the comments, or make some sort of mega-plea. Preferential treatment is given to omnivores (who could really benefit from this talk), people who will make him vegan cupcakes, or people who will ask hard! hitting! questions! that make! people! think! (but in a non-asshole way) BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF IS THAT YOU?
We’ll announce winners early tomorrow morning SO DO IT TO IT. Never fear, If you don’t win, there are still tickets available.
See Jonathan Safran Foer read from Eating Animals! »
This is short notice, vegans, but famous author and vegetarian Jonathan Safran Foer will be reading from his book, Eating Animals in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 21 and 22. He’s doing two readings each day: on Tuesday, one at San Francisco State at 1 p.m. and at the Commonwealth Club at 7 p.m.; and on Wednesday, one at 826 Valencia at 12:30 p.m. and at 6 p.m., as part of the City Arts and Lectures Series at the Herbst Theater on Sept. 22. Foer is also doing readings in other parts of the USA and one in Toronto, Ontario, so check it!
If you haven’t read Eating Animals, then do look into it. Foer is a truly great writer, so even if you’re already vegan, the book is a joy to read. It’s also a great inspiration for relatable, compassionate vegan advocacy and provides some fantastic conversation points for those times when a person who eats meat wants to talk to you about veganism. All in all, JSF is a stand up guy (see our post on his appearance on The Colbert Report); now who wants to bring him vegan cupcakes?
In this video interview with Big Think, Jonathan Safran Foer discusses Eating Animals, the recent egg recall, why he’s an animal-rights advocate but not an animal-lover, and how facory farming is a pressing global issue. It’s really good!
Interview: Paul Shapiro of The Humane Society of the United States! »
Paul Shapiro is kinda like…the greatest guy on earth. He’s the senior director of HSUS Factory Farming Campaign. He also founded Compassion Over Killing when he was basically 5. Okay, more like 7, but still. He works tirelessly for the animals while remaining the nicest, coolest guy ever. Honestly, if I did what Paul Shapiro does every day, I’d probably just go around setting things on fire and eating babies. I KID, EVERYONE RELAX! But I’d be one grumpy lady. He’s just the raddest best and you should read all about him and then follow him on twitter if you want the latest breaking animal news.
Plus, he’s adorable, right?
How long have you been vegan?
Since 1993. Old school. My recollection is that it may have been before the world was in color.
Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, human rights reasons, or a combination?
I wish I could say it was because in Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, our species’ first communication with non-Earthlings was with a civilization near Vega, but it’s really because it reduces animal cruelty and environmental degradation. [Ed., AHH! Jonas wrote about that too! Dorks unite!]
What is your favorite animal?
My late dog, George. Late as in passed away four years ago; he was generally very punctual. You can watch a seven-minute slide show of his life if you’d like. (Give it a few seconds to start and turn your speakers on.)
Do you have any super cute photos of animals to share with us? I just ask because this is something we’re super into. Elephants, piglets, and pit bulls are a plus.
George was a pit bull-shar pei mix, so I hope that slide show counts. Or you can see my two cats at facebook.com/paulshapiro.
Favorite vegan food to make?
Really anything that can be put inside a tortilla/wrap. It’s a very fast and clean way to eat.
Favorite vegan cook book or website for recipes?
I’m partial to humanesociety.org/recipes
Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant/fave vegan restaurant?
Currently, the vegan “chicken” burrito that’s being tested at a DC Chipotle is rocking my world. Since you’re in SF, I tip my hat to Herbivore’s shawarma, too. (Note that both of these are in a wrap.)
You travel a lot for work. Based on food options alone, which is your favorite city to travel to?
NYC is pretty hard to beat. That said, I was at Araya’s in Seattle recently and loved it. All-vegan, all-you-can-eat buffet for $8. Respect.
Any eating tips for traveling vegans?
Get the Veg Out app for your iPhone. [Ed.: we’ve got it! it is awesome!]
You started an all-vegan band in high school? Please elaborate.
I didn’t start the band, but I was the singer of the DC hardcore band Crime Against Humanity. We put out a demo tape and played about half a dozen shows in 1994 before breaking up. We were this close to making it big. And by “this close,” I mean not close at all.
We recently met Jonathan Safran Foer (we call him “JSF” around here) who mentioned that he went to high school with you? Were you guys friends? What was he like then? Was he in the band!?
Jonathan is an awesome guy and his success with Eating Animals makes me so happy. I regret to say he was never in Crime Against Humanity. We did go to high school together and knew each other back then, but we didn’t become friends until long after that.
If you weren’t working for HSUS, what would you be doing?
Begging Vegansaurus for a blogging job. [Ed., Great, now we have to get you fired! WHY DID YOU TELL US THAT!?]
Who are the movers and shakers in the animal protection world who people might not know about, who to keep an eye on to do great things?
It always surprises me how few people in the movement are familiar with the late Henry Spira’s work. If you haven’t read his biography, you should. In terms of living activists, I’m always amazed at how groups like Mercy for Animals, Vegan Outreach, and Compassion Over Killing get so much done with so few resources. Of course, I love VegNews too, and think they provide a great resource for the movement. Finally, if you don’t follow Jason Matheny’s work on in vitro meat, check it out; it’s something I think has a lot of promise for animals.
How do you think new technologies, like Facebook and Twitter, are changing the game?
They allow me to share photos of my cats and find out who’s dating who. They also enable folks to reach a lot of people fast, which is helpful for people who want to help animals. BTW, you can follow me at twitter.com/pshapiro (Ed., FOLLOW HIM. Best breaking AR news and also, he’s funny. Bonus points.)
What advice would you give people with a budding interest in animal protection?
The reality of how deplorable the scope and nature of our abuse of animals is can be depressing. Don’t let that sorrow consume you. I’m not the first to say that if you’re upset by a societal problem, don’t agonize—organize!
Animals can’t organize and advocate for their interests, so they’re dependent on us to speak up for them. It’s an immense privilege to be able to work full-time on their behalf, and it’s inspiring to see the progress that’s now being made, especially for farm animals. That said, you don’t need to be an employee of the movement to make a difference. Go at your own pace – pass out leaflets, write letters to the editor, support your favorite animal charities, get your local restaurants to add vegan options to their menus, call your legislators, be a positive example for your friends and family, and so on.
Are you a good cook?
Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
Any time we’re both in DC, consider the red carpet rolled out. [Ed., BOOKING TICKETS!]
Eating Animals is on sale at Costco (!?) for $14.99. Holiday gifts, people! Your family in West Virginia is gonna love you!
And while you’re there, pick up cheap beer (Sierra Nevada Holiday Ale) & 2-for-1 Sabras “I AM THE BEST HUMMUS AVAILABLE COMMERCIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES” Hummus!
America, fuck yeah!