Friday, June 19, 2009

Faux Environmentalists, Dead Goats and a Misused Bicycle

Are you going to cut her throat, burn her and eat her?

This is the worst kind of faux environmentalism and it has to be exposed for what it is.

These people are roasting a dead goat using a bicycle powered spit. It's a horrifying use of a bicycle and contrary to everything we stand for. There is nothing 'green' about slaughtering animals (or any part of the animal food industry) - no matter how 'local' and 'small' it is.

There is no such thing as a 'free range' animal raised for slaughter. It's not 'free' unless it can leave without having its throat slit. A 'grass fed cow' is still terrified as its herded into a cage where its neck is sliced open as it drowns in its own blood, while other cows stand by and watch, waiting their turn to die.

Contrary to what hipsters would have you believe, eating 'local' bacon isn't any better than eating any other bacon - it's still a dead animal, an animal that was imprisoned for its whole life and then murdered. It's still the flesh of an intelligent, social being - a being capable of having relationships, of caring for children, a being that feels pain when its throat is slit and it's hung upside down with a hook in its leg.

A woman goes to jail for killing her puppy and making a belt out of it - but millions of animals are slaughtered to make your shoes, your belts, your burgers - and all of them have just as much right to live as that puppy.

I know, you might disagree. But here's the truth you'll eventually have to face: you're wrong. You're the person who said "as long as the slaves are comfortable and well fed and we let them have Sunday off to go to church, it's not so bad really, and after all, we can't release them, what would they do? how would they take care of themselves?" Those people were called welfarists and they just wanted to make the slaves living conditions better. When slavery ended, they suggested all slaves be sent to work-camps so they could be trained on how to work. The people who wanted to stop slavery were the abolitionists. Get on the right side of history, become an abolitionist today and refuse to support a culture that enslaves millions and murders them for the dinner table - just to satisfy the gluttonous appetite of America while the rest of the world starves.

Really, it's time to wake up.


Carlos said...

Oops ... I thought I followed my bookmarked link to a bicycling blog; don't know how I ended up on PETA's site. Must have been my mistake.

Michael said...

Would you react the same way if they were using a bicycle to roast the body of a human child they had kidnapped? Carlos, it's time to evolve. Murder is murder.

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men."

-Leonardo da Vinci

Freewheel said...

That graphic is pretty amazing. As the world population continues to explode, the choice will be to produce and slaughter animals even faster, or to switch over to a plant-based diet. The graphic demonstrates that there's only one sane choice.

Carlos said...

My comments relate not to the merits of your argument but to the forum. I mean, it's your blog and you can post just about anything you want, but up to now you've gone to great lengths to craft a narrowly defined readership, and it seems a pity that you should choose to undo all that.

As for your response, don't you think it's a bit childish (no pun intended) to seek a moral equivalence between an act that is expressly illegal and one which by and large is not only sanctioned but regulated and protected by local and federal governments?

If the argument is against the industrialization of animal slaughter for mass consumption, that's one thing. But if you intend to convince your readers that the ingestion of animal protein is not of our nature, I'm afraid you have evolution and parallel ecosystems against you there. At its basic level, we eat meat because our bodies demand the protein. (P.S., when out riding, I can spot a vegan from more than a block away; the ropey neck muscles and wrinkled hands give them away every time.) You've an uphill climb ahead of you if your aim is to convince me and perhaps many others among your readership that we can meet our dietary needs through supplements. (And just where exactly does the protein in those pills come from, anyway?) Why not just shill for Monsanto while you're at it, and advocate the ingestion of genetically engineered crops? In the end, isn't an ear of corn or a sunflower also alive? Are we sure they're not sentient?

As I've already stated, it's your blog to do with what you will, but it hardly seems worth the bother if you alienate you audience.

Michael said...

Freewheel - such a good point. Animal based foods are totally unsustainable and that graphic is a great indication of it... Not to mention the socio-economic issues... as it is now, we use water and grain and fossil fuels to feed the meat, eggs and dairy habit of the elite rich of the earth while the rest live in poverty. Mr. Smarty-Pants-Relativity said it quite well:

"Our task must be to free widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

-Albert Einstein

Carlos said...

P.S. Have a nice time in Barcelona; it's absolutely beautiful this time of year. I'd recommend a terrific off-the-beaten-path eatery for paella, but I don't suppose you will be eating much fish, will you?

Michael said...

Carlos, I grew up in ranch country seeing animals raised and slaughtered for food regularly. I wonder if you've ever actually watched the whole process of producing the meat you eat. I'd be curious to know if actually bearing witness to that might change your feeling about the 'meat.' I challenge you to meet your meat, if you dare and see if you come out the other side craving a steak.

I'm impressed that you managed to combine every cliched argument against veganism all in one comment!...vegans are weak and don't get protein, eating meat is 'natural,' aren't plants alive, etc. Countless hours have been spent over the last few few years burning all of those straw men, so I won't bother dealing with them here - but...

If you like learning new things, Google is a great resource for learning about all the triathletes, professional football, basketball, hockey and soccer players and even professional arm wrestlers who are vegan.

And if you have any doubt about the environmental impact of meat consumption, read the UN report that confirms the animal food industry is the largest contributor to global warming on the planet. Yes, more than the automobile industry.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Carlos, thanks anyway! Barcelona has a thriving vegetarian community, and plenty of places offering Paella without dead animals in it, made with ingredients fresh from la boqueria.

Even Barcelona's 2 star Michelin restaurant caters to vegetarians.

A minority belief, such as animal rights, is not wrong because it's not supported by the law. Many horrible, evil things have been and continue to be legal.

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible."

-Bertrand Russell

Carlos said...

Looks like my last post didn't take, so I'll try again:

My grandparents owned a farm in Latin America, and I witnessed the slaughter of chickens, goats, geese, pigs and lambs from a young age. My wife and I chose our chicken and pig at Stone Barns Center near Tarrytown for our dinner the following night at Blue Hill Reastaurant near Washington Square Park. And I've caught and cleaned my own fish dinner, too.

I can't say I've witnessed the preparation of beef, but as I still eat poultry, pork and fish, I don't expect watching the non-industrial slaughter of beef would keep me from "craving a steak."

(As for my remark that I can spot vegans from a block away, I should have been more specific in mentioning that it's vegans over age 50 that display discernible characteristics.)

You've a long way to go before you convince me to embrace veganism, but please don't misinterpret this exchange as an attempt to draw you toward meat, either. As I said in an earlier post, it's not the message but the forum I take issue with. Your blog is witty, entertaining and informative, but it has up to now been focused on bikes and bike culture, and I was simply stating a preference for it remaining that way. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

Carlos said...

On the other hand, here we are 10 posts deep into the discussion, so your off-track comment (if the track is bicycling) would have to be deemed a success.

Anonymous said...

I am always amazed at the ignorance of my fellow man in thinking that mother nature built us to be meat eaters. Wow, people are really clueless.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

I know this post is over, but I feel I need to leave this comment just in case some other impassioned animal lovers read this. Please do no compare the plight of animals to the plight of slaves or the marginalization of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era (like that extremely offensive Peta protest against the Westminister Dog Show). I don't understand why white people who probably consider themselves to be liberal do this. I believe the abolitionists that Michael mentioned often tried to display and champion the humanity of black people in order to reveal the cruelty of slavery. I suppose they wanted to convince others that the enslavement of the darker members of the human family was a degradation of all humanity. Unfortunately, this point appears to still be in contention as I see many caricatures of black people (men especially) on tv and a very vocal group of protesters who think our president is some sort of fiend who wants to kill old people. In my own backyard, I've seen a Marietta bar-owner portray candidate Barack Obama as Curious George on t-shirts he sold from his establishment. Our personhood (and that of other people of color) is regularly attacked so please realize that I'm not being over-sensitive when I advise you that, under no circumstances, should you compare or correlate the experiences of black people to animals. Ever. For meticulous score-keeping on the wrongs done people of color in the media (or anywhere really), check out

Michael said...

The problem here is that in trying to prevent what you're perceiving as racism you run the risk of promoting another kind of othering, speciesism.

We should recognize the distinction between the offensive comparisons you're describing and the discourse of abolitionism in animal rights. In the example you cite, Obama is not being compared to a monkey to suggest that he is, in fact, 'an animal' - he's being compared to a monkey to identify him with the code that monkey stands for. In this case, the monkey is standing in for a particular kind of evolutionist thinking that developed along with colonialism, an ideology that views human beings (and cultures, ethnicities and races) as sitting along an evolutionary line with apes at the bottom and white europeans at the top. It's easy to see this when you consider how meaningless it would be if Obama were portrayed as a kitten, for example, or as a flamingo. Those are still animals, but they lack the implicit code that is being communicated by the 'monkey' image.

There are very good reasons to compare the experiences of marginalized human populations with the plight of animals. "Humanity" is held up as an indicator that a living being is worthy of moral consideration. I reject that contention. A being does not need to have humanity to be worthy of moral consideration. Enslavement of any living being is a degradation to all living beings.

The PETA protests are only offensive if you don't take them in the context of the premise of the animal rights movement, which is that the notion of 'animal' is being used just like 'fag' or 'nigger.' It's used to indicate that the being in question is not worthy of moral consideration, is 'other' and not 'us'.

Your argument against the comparison could be (and has been) used to protect and continue prejudice of all kinds. It's the same argument used to suggest that the civil rights struggle of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans people is not the of the same caliber as the civil rights struggle of black americans.

So long as it's possible to assign a 'sub-human' category to any living being, to denote a being as unworthy of moral consideration, it will be possible to apply that code to human beings. It is in this way that the animal rights struggle is the ultimate end and goal of the total human rights struggle.

I reject the notion of race as a meaningful distinction, it's a socially constructed border and doesn't reveal anything about the value of a person. I also reject the notion of species, again, it's socially constructed and doesn't reveal anything about the value of a living being. As you said enslaved africans were simply darker members of the human family - and all animals are, likewise, simply different looking members of the family of life who share this planet.