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]
Dan Barber’s “return to the land” argument is weak and ridiculous, but not all wrong »
Dan Barber courted some veg-rage back in December 2010 when he asserted that “You have blood on your hands when you eat vegetarian,” and last week Slate interviewed him about it. It’s on video, above, and watching it made me feel the same head-against-the-wall frustration that I do when Michael Pollan opens his yap to opine about how meat-abstainers are wrong, and eating animals is noble. Here are my responses to three of his particularly obnoxious points.
1. He points to the “iconic New England pasture that was built by the dairy industry” as a reason for keeping animals for food. What did the landscape look like before the dairy industry brought their milk-and-death business to the area, Dan? How did it look before the Industrial Revolution? How did it look before the Dutch and English and Spanish came and murdered all the native people? How did it look during Pangea?
2. He condemns a vegetable-based diet as much heavier in “food miles” than his local produce/animal product diet. Man, let’s address food deserts before you insist the nation go full locavore. Of course we should strive to eat more sustainably grown food! But when the choice is between dead cow from a feedlot and mixed vegetables from factory farms, choose the vegetables. They aren’t cutting down the rainforest to grow soybeans for my tofu, they’re doing it to feed the cows that the majority of the U.S. eats. Factory farms are bad for us ecologically, socially, ethically, morally—why go after the vegetarians when there is a much bigger bad to attack? I can’t tell if he’s advocating we all go full backyard chicken, or turn factory farms into small-scale, ecologically friendly farm collectives, or what.
3. The New England landscape “doesn’t want” you to grow vegetables, so that means it does want you to grow animals for killing? And oh no, Michael Pollan is worried about the extinction of farm animals? There is a major difference between “keeping some animals on your farm as farming tools” (eating grass, fertilizing with their waste, pest control) and “keeping animals en masse for slaughter.” You acknowledge that what you want is to “use the resources of animals on a farm in an intelligent way,” which is something I agree with—until you jump from keeping animals to eating them. Why? Isn’t barbarism like killing living creatures for our gustatory pleasure a thing of the past?
You know what? I do agree that vegetarians have blood on their hands. All the male chicks that are killed because they can’t produce eggs? All the male calves born to the perma-pregnant dairy cows, that are sent to veal farms? The treatment of the layer hens and dairy cows themelves? So much blood. That’s one of the reasons I observe a vegan diet: To keep the blood-as-byproduct off my hands.
[Please visit Adam Merberg’s Say what, Michael Pollan? blog for much more extensively documented reasons why this argument is nonsense.]
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 short, by Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle, is one of five shortlisted films for the RSA / Nominet Trust Film Competition. It uses an excerpt from a speech given by Michael Pollan at the RSA in 2010. In these two minutes, Michael Pollan says nothing anti-veg. He just talks about how the food system is fucked, which it totally is. (Is our Michael Pollan tolerance up to two entire minutes now?)
Say WHAT, Novella Carpenter? »
Oh, dear. This woman, Novella Carpenter, she’s just your average middle-class white American afforded all the opportunities that comes with this status, yet she chooses to play “farmer held down by The Man.” It’s really only privileged white people who “choose” to be poor, isn’t it? Like it’s some powerful social act? But, you know, when they want to travel around the world, they travel around the world, and when they want to go to grad school, they go to grad school, and when they want to feed a hen 8,000 grain-calories to produce just a dozen eggs, they do it and claim it’s all in interest of improving food security. Being poor by choice has its advantages!
I could’ve given two shits about Carpenter until she had to go and make some unfounded claims about “animal people” calling the city of Oakland on her (allegedly) illegal-farm-having ass AND NOW I HAVE TO CARE ABOUT THIS WOMAN, GODDAMMIT. Ugh, all I wanted to do this morning was eat my Wheatabix and watch an episode of Arrested Development in peace and NOW THIS SHIT.
Carpenter gets dimed out for some shady farm shit—selling food when she hasn’t got a permit—and it’s front page news! The Chronicle is on her team. Super, I don’t give a fuck. But then she gets an email from some person saying it was probably animal rights people who turned her in and she posts the letter on her blog and says yes, she assumed it was in fact those meddling animal-lovers! Carpenter, don’t say that bunny lovers are after you because some person who sent you an email BELIEVES that they PROBABLY know who turned you in. What if I sent you an email telling you I BELIEVED that it was PROBABLY Willie Brown who did it? Or that it was a neighbor who secretly hates you? Maybe it’s even someone who hates animals and wants them gone? Who knows! Don’t go spouting bullshit against animal-lovers because you got some email tip from someone who believes they might know something. And then later, she’s like WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!? to the animal people, after she straight called us out on her blog. As Kanye says, that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation.
Also guys, you know what else is low? When the city of Oakland dude told her she was being taken to task for breaking the law, she responded, “What about City Slicker Farms? Or People’s Grocery? I asked, two urban farming non-profits in Oakland. No one has complained about them.” So uh, she just dragged the legality of City Slicker Farms and People’s Grocery into a talk with a government official? Now who’s the snitch?! Wow, maybe it was another urban farmer who turned her in because they are equally petty? I wonder. Not to mention, those are two places that are WAAAAAY more useful than she’ll ever be.
This is my favorite part: “I’ll have to spend countless hours of my time (making it my 4th low paying/no paying job) so you can have a new law to enforce when one person (with money and power probably) complains about another person’s private activities. I just want to grow food for myself and other people, I don’t want to go to meetings and speak bureaucrat talk.” Um, Carpenter is a person with money and power. She has the extremely lucrative commodity of media coverage at her fingertips. I mean, she’s bitching about chard and it’s front-page news. Here’s some real news: actual oppressed individuals cannot spawn media shitstorms at will. And I’m sure as someone who studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, she’s got that bureaucrat talk down better than most, so cry me a goddamn river.
And really: Welcome to the world! I don’t want to register my car because it’s expensive and a pain in the ass—alert the media! If I let that registration slide and I get caught and my ass gets handed a ticket, I don’t like it, but I don’t whine “poor me” and I don’t get front-page coverage in the Chron. I also can’t open a retail store in my residentially zoned apartment WOE IS ME. Also, if she wanted to be more generous with this whole thing, at least she could say something like, “Good thing this is happening to me and not someone who really needs the food and actually can’t afford the time and money needed to lobby. I have the ability and power to seek (my version of) justice.” A bit of fucking perspective is all I ask. You’re not some chard-martyr.
But the worst part is, in a follow up post, Carpenter encourages people to raise (and slaughter?!) their own food under the radar? I’m actually way more comfortable with these activities being overseen; I don’t trust the idiots who order chickens in the mail to take that shit seriously. Carpenter might have the time (remember! She has no real job! She’s just a simple farmer! With a book deal!), skills, and money (yes, it takes a good amount of money to raise chickens, whether it be for eggs or meat), but most people don’t. So yes, I do want laws dictating how and where people in my city can raise and slaughter animals. I’d like more laws surrounding animal agriculture in general, whether it be factory farms or you new American farmers who want to eat your pets. Given the horrific treatment of animals pretty much everywhere, we need more oversight, not less. Self-policing isn’t working.
If you can kill an animal that you raised with kindness and love for no other reason than it tastes good to you, well then you kinda freak me out. So, yeah, I’ll continue to spend the majority of my time railing against factory farms, but just like you, Carpenter, I’ve got extra time, and so heeeeey what’s up, girl! If you want to team up on factory farming issues (and hell, even organic farming issues), holler, I’m all for it. However, don’t drag “rabbit fanatics” into this and force me to read your blog. I was much happier having no clue who you are.
To tie this long-ass rant up, a picture of a cute-ass bunny, Surya, who is up for adoption at SaveABunny (Sorry, Carpenter, she’s not for eating, she’s for snuggling!)
Blog post title gaffled from the always awesome Say what, Michael Pollan?
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for this week’s charmingly lunacy-tinged link-o-rama! »
Awwww! I know it’s the Daily Mail (UGH) but just read this story about Louie the obstacle-course-mastering pig and then close the tab. It’s a good story!
This week we’re still serving our U.S. citizens terrible lunches, while they’re getting huge full meals in other countries. Hot-stuff vegan Ted Leo talked to Eater about his awesome eating life, answering the idiotic question: “So do you consider yourself a strict vegan then or a little more ‘a la carte’ with your vegan choices?” by stating that, “Yeah… I wouldn’t say I was vegan if I was a la carte.” We love a man with principles. And a few eye-wrinkles, swoon. Or how about an athlete: Richard Adams went vegan after one visit to the animals at Farm Sanctuary, and now competes in crazy -lons/-thons to raise money for them!
Classic FDA/USDA recalls this week. First, cilantro sold under the labels Nature’s Reward, Ocean Mist, Tanimura & Antle, and Queen Victoria is being recalled because, oopsie, it’s all full of salmonella! Thanks, Sabor Farms of Salinas, Calif.! Second, “All Toxic Waste® Brand Nuclear Sludge® Products All Flavors And All Sizes” have been recalled because of elevated levels of lead! Who would have thought? At least the whale meat in Japan is free of lethal contaminants! Probably local, too, unlike every fish served at nearly every Bay Area restaurant, whoops. I wonder what ol’ Michael “don’t eat a lot of meat! unless it’s me, in which case, every week is Meat Week!” Pollan would say about eating insects—aren’t they totally local and sustainable? Well, one out of two. Chefs in London won’t be using shark fins in their dishes anymore, so there’s one win this week.
If you’re concerned about food for moral issues, definitely take a look at Salon’s guide to egg labeling—it’s informative! Megan Rascal’s scary pig cartoon is helping a vegan mom teach her kid about preventing animal cruelty. This Government Office of Accountability report on the F.D.A.’s total ineffectiveness at enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, despite being totally unsurprising, is really depressing, what with the egregious animal abuse inspectors aren’t stopping and all. Neat! It’s neat how in April 2010 a company working through Outdoor Adventures “euthanized,” meaning brutally murdered, somewhere between 70 and 100 sled dogs they no longer had use for post-driving-tourists-around-on-sleds season. Guess they didn’t need them for the Iditarod! Chinese families don’t need the pet rabbits they’re buying in celebration of the new year, the Year of the Rabbit, but they’re buying them anyway! Hey, just like dumbasses in the U.S. at Easter, only the article about it is full of racist puns as well as rabbit jokes. Mutts, though, Mutts is funny. Let’s read this 1996 interview with Patrick McDonnell and actually laugh.
This Tuesday: Oprah goes vegan + SF viewing party! Be there! »
So, you’ve probably already heard but Oprah (WE LOVE OPRAH) and her staff are going vegan for a week and the show on Tuesday, February 1st at 4 p.m. (that’s TOMORROW!) is all about it. Rich, beautiful vegan Kathy Freston (check out her excellent interview in Vanity Fair!) is gonna be on the show talking up veganism and her new book, Veganist. Woo! In crappier news, Michael Pollan is also going to be there. He’s telling his fans to watch the show because he’s gonna talk about meat. Like, a lot. BECAUSE HE DOESN’T ALREADY DO THAT. Ugh, I really hope Freston can hold her own against Pollan and it’s not just 44 minutes of him mansplaining “humane meat and its environmental benefits.” Because, MURDER.
ANYHOO, that joyful vegan genius, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is hosting a viewing party at Harvey’s in the castro. Harvey’s has a crazy amount of vegan options on the menu based on CPG’s recipes and they’re offering 10% off the vegan dishes for the viewing party! Oh, snap! Their onion rings are vegan! That’s all I needed to know.
From the invite:
We’re asking folks to get there by 3:30 latest to settle in (we’re expecting a packed house) and prepare to watch the show at 4:00. You can order food during the show, but you’re also invited to stick around for dinner, FREE cookies (thanks to Eat Pastry), and a brief discussion afterward.
RSVP on Facebook and we’ll see you there!
[Image from Petfinder! Adopt!]
The “Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian” article in The Guardian: Lady, you’re an IDIOT. »
I’m not going to even dignify this with a real response because goddamn, what a fucking idiot. I will simply copy and paste our rebuttal to the Mother Jones piece that we published earlier this month because it pretty much sums up how pathetic this woman is:
The Guardian published an interview with Jenna Woginrich, a former vegetarian who started raising and killing animals so she could justify eating them. Woginrich was vegetarian until, she says, she realized that:
One way to make sure the animals I ate lived a happy, respectable life was to raise them myself. I would learn to butcher a free-range chicken, raise a pig without antibiotics and rear lambs on green hillside pastures. I would come back to meat eating, and I would do it because of my love for animals.
She actually wrote that, that the way to love something is to kill it and eat it. She got waaaaaay into “sustainable” meat and thought, Oh, snap! I better start a farm where I raise and kill animals because that’s the way to teach everyone about sustainable dining—SLOW FOOD FOREVA! She’s obviously not the brightest bulb, but there are thousands of dumb-ass Slow Foodies who think the way to feed the world is through reducing meat consumption, and when it comes to their own diets there’s not a veg item in sight. You see, they mean “reducing the meat consumption for everyone else.” Lead by example? That’s asinine!
It’s like the problem with Michael Pollan’s elitism: these Slow Food dummies are so intent on showing the world that there’s “sustainable meat” (a whopping fewer-than-1 percent of it!) that they ignore the much larger, more important lesson: WE ALL NEED TO EAT LESS MEAT. Well, not us vegans, but you know, the rest of you fuckers. The constant message the world needs to hear from the Slow Food movement is EAT LESS MEAT. Then, if they want to get into where the meat that people “should” eat comes from, fine. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Global meat consumption has increased 500 percent since 1950 and people who care about sustainable dining should (one more time with feeling): EAT FEWER DEAD ANIMALS.
Jenna Woginrich, you ma’am, are a straight-up nincompoop. You’re doing the exact opposite of what you think you’re doing and you’re being so ridiculously vocal about it that it’s hurting the cause at an even larger scale. Just go hide your shameful face in a corner while you butcher the pigs who grew to trust you, and then sell their carcasses to extremely rich people so you can all feel better about eating dead animals. I hope all her friends read that and are running in the other direction. You know what they say: lay down with Jenna tonight and you’re gonna end up in her stir-fry tomorrow! Way to rock the system! I know Slow Food people are our supposedly vegan “allies,” but they could be less hypocritical about animal-eating issues.
And just because I love it so much and I need something to counteract the negativity of this piece, here is a picture of BABY OWL cuddling a STUFFED OWL TOY. What?! I can’t even directly look at this picture because my heart will explode IT IS TOO MUCH.
[photo via Ladyxo]
Fox News comes to the vegan side! »
Am I in an alternate reality? Fox News totally jocks us! In a reasonable and complimentary way!: “Once mocked as a fringe diet for sandal-wearing health food store workers…. Today’s vegans are urban hipsters, suburban moms, college students, even professional athletes.” Now don’t get salty about the urban hipsters part, it’s alright in concert with the others.
The article talks about Skinny Bitch, Alicia Silverstone, and Michael Pollan, the health and environmental benefits of veganism, and the accompanying picture has a Post Punk Kitchen apron in the foreground. They even make a comment on the history: “Abstaining from animal products is an ancient practice found in cultures worldwide.” Yeah, bitches, I didn’t make it up!
The post was inspired by a recent study by the National Restaurant Association where 1,500 chefs put vegan entrees as number 71 on their list of 226 trends for 2011. That ain’t bad! WE ARE DOMINATING.
So, are you disturbed? Is your world collapsing? Should I start watching Fox News?
Mother Jones loves sustainability, except when there’s delicious, fancy food involved »
Mother Jones published an interview with Naomi Pomeroy, a former vegetarian who opened a restaurant in Portland called Beast that’s basically Meat Time in Meat Town at the Meat Day Parade. Pomeroy was vegetarian until, she says, she started cooking meat for “personal-chef clients” and was all, IF I COOK MEAT I HAVE TO TASTE IT DUH, so she got waaaaaay into “sustainable” meat and thought, Oh, snap! I better open a restaurant that serves only meat because that’s the way to teach everyone about sustainable dining: SLOW FOOD FOREVA!, and then, well, she did. She’s obviously not the brightest bulb, but there are thousands of dumb-ass slow-food chefs who think the way to feed the world is through reducing meat consumption—and when it comes to their own menus there’s not a veg item in sight. You see, they mean “reducing the meat consumption for everyone else.” Lead by example? That’s asinine!
It’s like the whole Michael Pollan elitism thing: these slow food dummies are so intent on showing the world that there’s “sustainable meat” (a whopping less-than-1 percent of it!) that they ignore the much larger, more important lesson: WE ALL NEED TO EAT LESS MEAT. Well, not us vegans, but you know, the rest of you fuckers. The constant message the world needs to hear from the Slow Food movement is EAT LESS MEAT. Then, if they want to get into where the meat that people “should” eat comes from, fine. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Global meat consumption has increased 500 percent since 1950 and people who care about sustainable dining should (one more time with feeling): EAT FEWER DEAD ANIMALS.
Anyway, none of that really bothered me because I’m used to silly shit like this in eco-hip media BUT THEN two editors of Mother Jones had to go and tweet about how vegans are UP IN ARMS about the article. Like WTF did you think, ladies?? You publish an article about a restaurant that’s all WOO DEAD ANIMALS WOO and of course you’re gonna get some people commenting who think eating animals is sad and awful. DEAL WITH IT. To tweet about it and point it out like, “OMG! Vegans have their panties in a bunch!” is just ridiculous. Can you imagine them antagonizing another group like this!?
Who do the editors of Mother Jones think reads them? There is literally not one person on earth (who has heard of the magazine) who thinks it’s anything other than a hippie rag. Mother Jones, you are granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, liberal gaywads from planet 1970s Hippie Socialist and you need to just ACCEPT THAT. Vegans are your natural allies; why are you trying to alienate us? Stop trying to be Good (which is THE WORST) or one of those obnoxious faux eco-sites that tells people to save the world by buying more reusable bags! You’re brand isn’t hip, no matter how many times you try to convince me to call you “MoJo,” and it never will be. YOU ARE CALLED MOTHER JONES. I mean, I hear that and I think of a woman teaching her daughter to use a Diva Cup, YOU KNOW? And there’s nothing wrong with that! Now, go breast-feed your seven-year-old and leave us vegans be. Or, you know, write less hypocritically about animal-eating issues.
[Note: To provide contrast between this article’s accompanying gross-ass pictures of Noami Pomeroy holding dead pigs as as she walks through a field, this editorial is accompanied by pictures of a living piglet, and some vegan salad. Sow and piglet photo by grongar; beet-and-leek-salad photo by haraldwalker]