Last week Anu Garg's monstrously popular A Word A Day
daily e-mail mailing list was guest-hosted by a veg advocate. In response to the very first word of the week vegan
, Garg received a large volume of e-mails regarding the use of the mailing list as a platform for veganism/vegetarianism.
At first I couldn't for the life of me understand the hubbub. What exactly prompted the rage? I'm thinking maybe it's the theme itself that's at fault, that no one wants to feel as if they're being lectured on something as personal as food choice. Fair enough, but I thought there were no overt lectures during the advocate's period. Maybe I've been too veganised to recognise when it's overt rather than covert?
The first day of the week's word was vegan
. The second was speciesism
, the assumption of superiority of humans over other animal species, especially to justify their exploitation.
Uh oh. Okay, yeah that might be the trigger.
The third word of the week was factory farming
and included this little tidbit:
Some of the characteristics of a factory farm include intensive crowding of animals, trimming of birds' beaks, cutting pigs' tails, force-feeding of ducks, injecting artificial growth hormones, restricting mobility, etc.
Cue the angry AWAD-ers who wrote in to unsubscribe from the mailing list, least the ones who hadn't done so after speciesism
See, I'm fine with people eating meat. As long as the happy meat-eaters are aware of the conditions of how their meat was raised and processed, it's cool. I don't feel the need to force veg issues down people's throat or feel superior because I don't partake in meat. To be honest, if I could I'd break out the bacon too.
But there's truth and there's nice. And blindsiding people with ugly details and raising the idea of speciesism just makes them defensive and less likely to listen to the arguments. If someone came up with a folder full of horrifying statistics of farmed animals, then challenged me to defend my meat-eating ways, I'd tell 'em to fuck off even if I could explain I'm practically a vegan. Telling someone innocent animals could be saved by not eating them produces an unhelpful tense environment because it's forcing that person to look at themselves in a bad light i.e. like animals but like eating them too= evil.
It's not that simple. Food is essential, food is personal, food is cultural. You want to convince people to stop or at least look at the arguments, pass around the information given from a neutral point of view. Have faith that from your example, people will follow.
Same goes for those who sneer and dismiss the reasons why people go veg. There's no need to fly off the handle every time someone brings up the issue of factory farming, or cruelty to farmed animals. These are valid points and are in need of a major overhaul. You may not like the idea of giving up meat, but surely you're not okay with animals being abused before meeting its end in the slaughterhouse?