“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.