Suicide Food?, or Portraying Animals as Enjoying, Encouraging Own Slaughter (a rant)

“suicide food” taken from http://suicidefood.blogspot.com/. http://vegantabulous.blogspot.com/2009/03/vegetarian-myth-open-thread.html is also highly recommended

I want to explain something: justifications for slaughter are read by veg*ns as justifications for pornography or rape are read by (radical) feminists or justifications of lynching and segregation are read by antiracist activists.

The view that animals LIKE being farmed and killed is PERVASIVE (eg see above link). Even people otherwise understanding of animal rights (eg opposing animal testing) can actively participate in this, such as Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen.

Reading The Vegetarian Myth angered me (for a fantastic–to me–reception to it see http://vegantabulous.blogspot.com/2009/03/vegetarian-myth-open-thread.html), but parts of it felt like a punch in the gut. For one thing, a huge part of her argument about the stupidity of vegans seemed to some to be based on a sarcastic, satirical conversation by vegans (http://www.postpunkkitchen.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=90752&p=1, and http://www.postpunkkitchen.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=19376), that she apparently took very seriously, and worked strenuously to debunk. However, she has informed me that it did happen seriously, circa 2001, and there’s no reason to believe she’s lying about this. But basing a large part of her book on a eight year old conversation that she can’t seem to find more recent examples of and cite them results in this readers’ annoyance, not outrage or anguish.

What was anguish was her defense of killing–animals, of course, not humans. eg, “for someone to live, someone else has to die. In that acceptance, with all its suffering and sorrow, is the ability to choose a different way, a better way.” and “The grass and the grazers need each other as much as predators and prey. These are not one-way relationships, not arrangements of dominance and subordination. We aren’t exploiting each other by eating. We are only taking turns.”

Of course, she doesn’t mean humans need to die for others to live, let alone that humans need to die for animals to live.The facts are, which she and plenty of others, seem endlessly to perpetuate while either denying that they are doing so, or assuming that there is nothing wrong with, is this: humans have more right than any other creatures to live. While animal killing humans is “horrific” and cannibalism is “barbaric” to the vast majority of humans, we have so much right to life that, even when not necessitated by survival (self-defense and/or food to stave off starvation), we have the assumed right to kill a “lesser” animal to consume their corpses as meat. Not only that, but it’s the way it should be.

If she and others who tout the above quoted line of thinking actually stood by what they claim, they would not be placing humans outside of being prey. They’d be living amidst predator species, allowing nonhuman animals to cull the human animal herd of the sick and elderly. Which we DO NOT do. They ARE one way relationships. There is no mutuality in fact or practice in the stated bargain. We do not get killed and eaten, except in rare instances, by carnivorous or omnivorous animals. In fact, when it does happen to humans, we punish the animal who kills with death. Even committing a severe bite is deemed sufficient to kill an animal, even a dog, a species whom we generally don’t consume. The animals we eat, whether vegans or flesh-eaters, don’t get to eat us. Animals who could kill and eat us are not allowed by making us inaccessible and capitally punishing those who do.

Vultures and flesh-eating dirt-dwellers do get to eat us, but only after we die in ways not related to being treated as eatable, ie disease, or death by another human. Not only that, but we regard these creatures as aborrent, as disgusting and gross because of where they live, what they eat, how they look, in shining examples of speciesism. Humans, especially males, are the death-dealers to humans, not animals, and humans equate awful humans with being these creatures and can even find it better to be a human dealer of death to humans than to be a “slug” or “maggot.”

Additionally, we not only do not eat animals that are already dead; we don’t eat elderly ones, or one’s that are naturally sick (however, we do eat animals that are sick from industrial farming practices, but they are often young, babies even, and would be healthy if not for said practices). We regard it as unhealthy, by and large. We are not as noble as vultures or others feeding off the already dead to help the return of the body to the earth. We slaughter billions–about ELEVEN BILLION in the US and Canada alone–of animals EVERY YEAR for their flesh. We kill additional billions in animal testing, fur and leather, abandoning puppy milled animals, and other animalcidal practices. We are not like carnivorous animals, killing for survival, and only taking what we need. About 335 000 000 people do not need 11 billion animals yearly, by any stretch of the imagination.

The following quote by Derrick Jensen is guilty of the same, and beyond: “I go back again. I remember the predator-prey bargain: If you consume the flesh of another, you take responsibility for the continuation of its community. I open the refrigerator. Eat more.

“This time the salmon says something else to me: “I know you don’t like killing. If you help take out the dams that will help us survive. Then you can kill and eat all the salmon you’d like. We will even jump out of the water and right to where you are waiting. You won’t feel bad about killing us, because you have helped our community. We will gladly do this for you, if you will help us survive.””

If you can’t understand where I am coming from, envision the latter quote stating this:

“I go back again. I remember the john-prostitute bargain: If you use the orifices of another, you take responsibility for the continuation of its trade. I go down to the brothel. Buy more.

“This time the woman says something else to me: “I know you don’t like raping. If you help take out the traffickers that will help us survive. Then you can rent and rape all the women you’d like. We will even jump out of the women’s shelter and right to where you are waiting. You won’t feel bad about prostituting us, because you have helped our trade. We will gladly do this for you, if you will help us economically survive.””

or perhaps this:

“I go back again. I remember the white-of colour bargain: If you degrade the skin of another, you take responsibility for the continuation of its community. I buy more sweatshop labour clothing. Hate more.

“This time the person of colour says something else to me: “I know you don’t like hating. If you help take out the corporations that will help us survive. Then you can exploit and hate all the racialised bodies you’d like. We will even jump out of the sweat shop and right to where you are waiting. You won’t feel bad about hating us, because you have helped our community. We will gladly do this for you, if you will help us survive.””

And therein lies a fundamental justification of oppression: the oppressed ENJOY it. They WANT it. “Good” women (white, heterosexual, middle class, not sexually abused) are postulated as enjoying rape by the “good guys” (white, middle class, family, “not really rapists”) and needing to be protected from rape by the “bad guys” (of colour, poor, strangers, “real” rapists), not to mention being turned into pornography for other men or sometimes killed in “s-m games gone wrong” or “the bitch was going to leave me.” “Bad” women (of colour, lesbian, poor, in prostitution) are not afforded such protection at all, and “good” women often find that their “goodness” does not protect them. While “pets” are offered some protection, they too can find their “cuteness” doesn’t protect them. Farmed animals are postulated to enjoy being not only raped in farming (eg dairy cows are impregnated yearly through artificial insemination, which is standard practice even on organic farms), but to enjoy being sent to slaughter and being turned into food. What protection do food-animals get? Certainly not the protection of most animal-welfare laws.

And in enters the “they would die without us” argument, also known to take the forms of “they need us” and “how could we change now after domesticating them?” But do women need men, or do they need the end of men’s oppression? Do people of colour need whites, or do they need whites to stop being racist? While it is true that domesticated species would mostly die in the wild, unlike human oppressed folk, turning them out to fend for themselves isn’t the only solution. Companion animals and farm sanctuaries show that. Not to mention, is freedom not better than oppression? Is it better to not exist at all (for potential future farmed animals) then to live lives of oppression? I’d say yes.

When looking at debates around corpse eating, look at the money that is behind these industries. We have turned it into a multibillion dollar business–worth WAY more than the ejaculation industry (aka “sex” industry), by the way. In the US, pornography alone is worth between $8-12 billion, in Canada a billion. In Canada alone, “meat” is worth $21 billion, with dairy and eggs at $13 billion, and seafood $4 billion. They have far more economic, political, and social clout that any group of veg*ns has. To compare the agricultural animal products with vegan agriculture, here are the statistics for the latter: grain is $4.5 billion, and fruit/vegetables is $6 billion (according to the meat industry too: http://www.cmc-cvc.com/english/industry_statistic_e.asp).

Who controls how we perceive reality? What humans need to eat? What animals and other oppressed groups are “really like”? Certainly not veg*ns, and even more certainly not nonhuman animals.

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PS Part 3 of the Carnival is on it’s way. Sorry it’s sooo late! It’ll probably be up Wednesday.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 6:08 am  Comments (9)  

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  1. Great post! I especially liked the part where you turned Jensen’s words around. I like a lot of what he writes, but I disagree with him on some fundamental issues.

    Oh, and regarding veganism on the radfem boards, I made veggie land specifically for veg*ns to post without intrusion by non-veg*ns. You would be wise to make sure you don’t say too much about veg*nism on the main forums, b/c it’s a trigger. It’s very nigelesque. A lot of women do not see the connection between feminism and speciesism. However, as I said in response to your post, I don’t think women can actively oppress animals, since both animals and women are commodities under patriarchy.

    Just for your sanity, though, don’t post veg*n related topics in the main forums. Everyone gets too stirred up.

  2. Ben here, from Suicide Food. I thought you should know that someone claiming to be Lierre Keith has posted at theppk.com about all this.

    “I’m Lierre Keith, the author of the book under discussion. I’m gathering from this thread that someone posted in jest about a fence down the Serengeti at some point recently? Rest assured, that is not the conversation I was referring to in my book. That conversation happened eight or nine years ago on a forum that no longer exists, or I most certainly would have footnoted it. Sorry to disappoint you. Some vegans–myself included once upon a time–are seriously upset by the issue of animal predation. ”

    Also, our post about Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” will be up in a few months. (We work several months ahead these days.)

  3. thanks bbb! i was reading about the sexualities of bonobos lately. they seem to have stuff right, eh? ps next time someone tries to tell me they have anal intercourse, i’ll be able to site sources that show they don’t🙂

    it is nigelesque! like lucky excoriating me for centreing animals, yet ignoring plants, yet somehow, i don’t think she practices cannibalism, thereby perpetuating the “man-made” creation of humans, esp men, over all living things

    I’ve seen a lot of that theorised–that women can’t oppress, but I’ve not seen much evidence that the past societies of humans, pre-patriarchy, had no inequality. Also, if that is true (women can’t oppress), why can’t men not who are disadvantaged by race, class, sexuality, etc. Meaning, if women categorically cannot, why can a poor man of colour?

    I dunno how I’ll handle the keeping it to myself. That, to me, is just like pretending I’m not anti-racist among white folk, or allowing leftist men to say misogynist shit. I think that if a radfem refuses to recognise the links between the oppression of women and animals, she’s not worthy of the term radical feminist.

    Hey (everyone), did anyone else notice how Lierre Keith never even mentions Carol Adams in the veg myth? Pissed me off.

    Hmmm…I’ll look into that Ben, thanks for telling me🙂

    I look forward to your Endgame post. A lot. Put it up soon, k?😀

  4. I really got a lot out of this post, demonista. Thanks. I haven’t read the book and don’t intend to. I don’t really get why so many rad fems appear to be supportive of this book. It seems to be so opposite to feminist values, ideas and integrity… not to mention highly fallacious. But I doubt that the book will have much of an impact on women choosing veganism and vegetarianism. It seems to be a book that was written for the authors to justify their own desire to consume the flesh of other species. So women who read it and follow it would never have stuck out being vegies anyway… they would have found some other excuse not to bother caring about the rights of non-human animals. Women who are vegetarians and vegans are not going to ditch their principles just because someone tells them that they are justified in doing so. All of the vegan/vegetarian feminists that I know are pretty horrified by the book.

  5. Yes, that was me posting on the ppk forum with a factual correction. The satiric post was apparently posted on Tue 2/6/07 3:31 pm. I had never visited that site until last week (when I googled my own name and found a thread on my book). And like Ben already quoted, the discussion I referenced in my book happened circa 2001. The first chapter of my book was written in 2006, long before the satiric post. You’re welcome–even expected–to disgree with me, but please get the facts right. I’m not interested in arguing over something so stupid.

    Bacteria and viruses are the natural predators of humans and other large carnivores. Something has to keep us in check, too. I also would personally do anything in power to bring back the wolves, bears, and big cats who sometimes prey on humans. I don’t know how I could have been clearer in my book about the repair of biological communities that this planet needs.

    I think most of us–and I mean all living creatures when I say “us”–panic at the moment of death, because life wants to live. But I wish I could have a sky burial and let the birds eat me when it’s time to take my turn. Failing that, the soil is welcome to me, to get the carbon and minerals that I borrowed while here back in circulation. So in the end, yes, I very much want to be eaten. I want to give back what I have been loaned, and become a part of it all again. Which is a good thing, because there’s not actually any way out of those cycles.

  6. hey! i just saw this. great post!

    so much of what lierre wrote enraged me as well, obviously, and i’m only two-thirds of the way through my second reading as i am sourcing all of my points and rebuttals to her BS arguments.

    one of my biggest frustrations is the same as yours: the whole “we take turns” part although OUR “turn” comes at the end of our life and not caused by animals when their “turn” comes early in their life and at our hand just because we want to.

    so many of her health arguments are dishonest and deceptive and outright lies. reading it again, and so thoroughly, gets my blood boiling, but hopefully my final essay/debunking/rebuttal will make it all worth it and will convince some on the fencers that a veg*n lifestyle and diet IS the best for the planet, the animals, and the people.

  7. lierre, sorry about that. i’ll edit my post to reflect the truth about the serenghetti fence

  8. great post, demonista.
    keith’s comment here shows are desperately she is reaching to back up her BS, as ms. jared has pointed out in her comment. (ms jared, i look forward to your review)
    i’ve been vegan for years and everyone i know who is vegan is living very well on the diet, many of them expressing how MUCH BETTER they feel than when they ate flesh and other animal products. keith’s claims about the diet are irresponsible at best.
    anyways, thanks for posting!

  9. thanks Mi! She is backpedaling. There are so many holes in her arguments… I’ll be writing another post for here addressing her and another’s arguments on a mutual friend’s facebook page.

    I look forward to ms jared’s review to. Post it soon, sister!🙂

    Yes re: health, even little things. I’ve been vegan for over a year (with freeganed dairy, egg products) and I’ve gotten sick less in that time. eg, I’ve only vomited once, whereas before going vegan, I’d throw up 3 or so times a year (as in feel really sick 2 or 3 times yearly, throw up once each time, and start to feel better), and before going vegetarian over a decade ago, I would get the flu about twice a year, and when I would, I’d be vomitting (and diarrheaing) for 3-7 days each time.

    Yes, she was vegan for twenty years, and came to blame it for a spine condition she now has, when her condition could have predated her veganism, not to mention, very few people’s health worsens while vegan, and that is usually because they still have an American/industrial/junk food/white flour diet. Women do need to watch out for getting enough of Vitamin B12 and iron, tho. For goodness sakes, a good example is how the American Diabetes Association admits that the average vegan diet is healthier for diabetics than their own recommended omnivorous diet!


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