They've changed the cover of their pamphlets so that they no longer hint directly at a solution for meat eaters, which I have to say is an improvement (seeing as the hints at "compassionate eating" for meat eaters were always lies, and the pamphlet is really an attempt to convert people to veganism, or at least to part-time veganism). I keep wanting to confront one of them about it, but I get all nervous and don't feel that I have enough time to get into it before my next class. I really need to get out the latest pamphlet I took from them and try to find an email address for their organization. I'm thinking...if I type up a thoughtful, polite response to the pamphlet, I can both email it to them and print out copies to hand back to the people who keep trying to hand me more copies of the pamphlets.

I've already covered this in my last post about the vegans, so you already know...I really think that they're going about this the wrong way. "Compassionate eating" shouldn't refer to merely cutting down on meat and dairy intake - it should refer to making responsible decisions regarding the sources of the meats and dairies we do eat. I say that if you can afford to eat vegan food three times a week, you could probably put that same money toward eating compassionately raised meat instead. I know that I personally would not be able to afford it all the time, but I think if you have enough to buy food like that a few times a week it's better to put that money toward supporting responsible ranchers rather than toward supporting some vegan food manufacturer. Cruelty is not going to go away until it becomes profitable for it to do so.
A while back I got a pamphlet...well, more like a little booklet...from a woman by the UMC. On the cover were images of pigs and such living in terrible conditions, and the words "Even if you like meat, you can help stop this cruelty."

Now, I'm not going to try to defend the way a lot of livestock are treated. It is, quite frankly, disgusting, and we do need to change it. What I am going to say, though, is that it seems to me that the majority of the people "working for change" are going about it in a stupid way.

After promising on its cover that meat lovers could join in the cause just fine without losing a major part of their diet, the booklet went on to do its best to turn its readers off of meat and eggs. Then, at the end, it contained advertisements for various vegan food companies, and went on about how if we all just ate a little more vegan food, it would "help end the cruelty."

I call bullshit.

If we decrease the demand for meat and animal products, what will that accomplish? Maybe the big companies will raise a few less animals. So what? The animals that they do still raise will live in just as awful conditions as they do now. All that we'll have changed is that there will be less of them. If the treatment of livestock is unacceptable now, it'll still be unacceptable if it happens to fewer animals. And no, we're not going to change the whole world's population over to veganism and miraculously end all meat production. That's just stupid.

There's all this business about "If I knew you, I wouldn't eat you." Huh? How do they think people lived in the times before meat came prepackaged on the shelf at the grocery store? How do they think a lot of farmers and ranchers still live? My aunt and uncle raise cattle--they've even bottle-fed calf or two who were born too early in the year and had to be brought into the house to keep them from freezing--and they still send them off to slaughter, to either sell or to eat themselves. It's not a matter of cruelty; it's a matter of that being how the world works.

There's something worse, though, than a vegan who preaches abstinence from all animal-based products based on the way the animals are treated. One woman whose account I read went on about how she, as a feminist, could not support an industry that "enslaves the female reproductive system" by using animals to produce milk and eggs. My response: the only reason we've "enslaved" the female reproductive system of animals rather than the male system is that males don't produce anything anyone actually wants to eat (well...I'm sure there's someone out there who wants to eat it, but they should probably seek psychological counseling). It's not some anti-female conspiracy. Grow up and stop trying to make it look like everyone's picking on you.

I do have a solution that actually makes sense, and that I was hoping would be what the booklet was going to suggest. What needs to happen is not for the number of vegetarians or vegans to increase. We don't need to restrict our diets like that. What we need to do is to research where our food comes from, and refuse to buy meat or dairy from any company that doesn't maintain a reasonable quality of life for their livestock. Legislation needs to be passed that forces companies that are now putting things like "free-range" on their products to be truthful about what that actually means, so that it's easier for consumers to differentiate between companies that deserve to be allowed to use that label and the ones that do the bare minimum to qualify. If we support the companies and farmers that treat their livestock well, they'll be able to expand and take over more of the industry. And, if people refuse to pay for food that came about through cruelty, cruelty will become unprofitable. We're not going to convince the companies that are doing these terrible things to change their ways by whining about how horrible they are or by going off meat altogether--the way to do it is to exploit their capitalist spirits.

When I got to the end of the book and looked at their description of another free booklet they were offering to send me, I was deeply disappointed. They'd claimed it was a "Guide to Conscientious Eating," but it was clear from the more complete description that it was nothing more than a series of more advertisements for vegan foods. What is needed is a guide to what the terms on the things sold in grocery stores mean, and a list of companies that can be relied upon to do the decent thing when it comes to their livestock. Now THAT would be conscientious eating.

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spoofmaster

November 2012

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