Privilege even in veganism

Recently, I was re-subjected on Hathor to a popular but not universal vegan position: that the only reasons anyone eats meat are tradition and pleasure. That no one eats meat because they must. We can just eat rice, beans and grains in lieu of meat.

That assertion is rolling in privilege. Specifically, the privilege of not having a health condition for which doctors advise a special, non-vegan diet.

Let’s get one thing clear: the debate about whether or not some vegan diet somewhere would work for people with insulin-resistance, Crohn’s disease or failing kidneys or a medical requirement for more protein than the typical human needs is not the issue. In fact, let’s just take it as a given that there is a vegan diet for everyone, somewhere. But at this point, it’s a matter of fact that a functioning vegan diet for some of these conditions remains unknown. Vegans complain online of being told by doctors they have a condition that requires them to eat red meat or eggs or whatever. Some of this may be ignorance or prejudice on the part of the doctors.

That’s not the issue. The issue is: people are being told by their doctors they have conditions which require a low-carb diet, or require more protein than most people, or that keep their systems from digesting half the foods available on a vegan diet. For a vegan to say “humans only eat meat for pleasure or tradition” is absurd, insulting and privileged. And untrue. People often eat meat and animal by-products because they are being advised by the experts in healthcare that they must.

Take me, for example. I ‘ve never liked beef. I’d rather never eat it. But I get anemic. I take iron pills every day and eat quite a lot of veggies and dark leafy greens per week. And when the anemia happens, I take extra iron pills and eat even more greens. No help. I have on multiple occasions systematically tried every food but beef known to help with anemia, to no avail. I’ve tried herbs. I’ve tried everything anyone at health care stores can think of. Nothing but beef gets me going again. I languish in fatigue until I break down and eat beef I don’t like or enjoy. Then I’m fine.

That’s a really mild example. There are people with immediately life-threatening problems who are being advised by well-informed doctors that they need to eat animal by-products or meat, at least for a certain period during their illness. When a vegan says no one eats meat except for pleasure/tradition – read “selfish purposes” – they are callously erasing that person and his concerns. How does that fit in with the vegan philosophy – deleting people who don’t fit your scenario?

There are people halting the progress of their diabetes by eating a non-vegan diet. Could there possibly be a vegan diet that would do them even more good? Sure, anything’s possible. But like I said, go subject yourself to medical experiments. How does advising others to be the vegan movement’s guinea pigs fit in with the vegan philosophy?

Additionally, there’s something very classist about asserting that everyone could just go vegan right now if only they’d stop making excuses. The US is full of people who don’t know how to eat properly by any standard. We don’t teach nutrition in schools anymore, and many parents just don’t have a clue. Fortunately, a vegan diet doesn’t have to be expensive, so it may be possible for them to eat vegan for the same or less money. But what about families where all the adults work very long hours just to make ends meet, and no one has time to do food prep and cooking? The answer I usually hear is: “They just need to buy a slow cooker and there are tons of vegan recipes that’ll be quick and easy to fix that way.” Yeah? Because everyone has an extra $24 or whatever it costs to buy a slow cooker? Check your privilege – not everyone does.

Saying the only reason people don’t go vegan is they don’t want to erases a lot of people who have legitimate reasons to believe they can’t.

Comments

  1. says

    Typo in the second last paragraph: trying to make ends meat. :)

    It’s strange that you hate beef yet have to eat it. My first thought is other sources of red meat (lamb, bison), but you probably wouldn’t like those either.

    I’m mostly a carnivore myself (for health reasons), when I can afford it, so I studiously avoid the vegan arguments. La la la la la can’t hear you. But it’s still nice to hear counterarguments.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Also, I dislike lamb and have never tried bison. Don’t even know if one can buy it around here. AND I’ve never heard either cited as a help for anemia. Don’t know if that’s because the US beef-promoting forces are so powerful, or because they actually lack the b-12/iron combo that beef has for anemics (and yes, I’ve tried pairing those supplements every way – I’ve even had B12 shots).

      • Inkhuldra says

        This is only partly on topic, but I hope you don’t mind. :-)

        I’m a carnivore by choice, and also because I live in a cold climate country where it’s hard to grow vegetables inexpensively. Veggies are very pricy here, because they’re mostly imported.

        The landscape around my rural home consists of small fields of grain and hilly areas that can’t be used for anything but grazing. My nearest neighbours are a flock of approximately 10-15 bullocks on a steep hill. Grain crops fail when the summer is too wet or too dry, but grass grows in abundance.

        I get a bit annoyed by people who claim that the world would be a better place if everybody switched to an all-vegan diet. Not all animal husbandry is based on keeping thousands of animals in feedlots where they eat grain-based feed rather than grass/hay (which is more nutritious and gives leaner meat and better milk). The vegan idea seems to be that all land that’s used for grazing could instead be used to grow grain or vegetables. How naive is that? Climate and geography makes large areas of the world inarable. Why not use that land to raise animals for meat?

      • Youll_Never_Guess says

        In my experience, lamb helps to a lesser extent than beef, and my local butcher tells me that bison contains more iron than beef, (but said nothing about b12- I just recently found out that it could be a factor to my condition, and haven’t had the chance to look it up yet.) It is however very dry, so cooking preparations should be carefully considered, to make sure you don’t change the chemical structure too much or lose the nutrients, if you wish to keep meat eating to a minimum(as it’s been suggested that there is more than iron and b12 in the meat that keeps anemia at bay, and not all causes and factors of anemia are known). Sad as it is, I have also been told that veal contains more of the iron and b12, (which would mean less beef intake overall/ fewer animals needing to be killed). One of my new favorite discoveries is that shell fish contains even more of both iron and b12 than red meat. I’ve replaced my large daily intake of beef, (on most days), with one can of shelled clams. Add to pasta, or vegie soup, and feel great!

  2. says

    Jennifer,

    Let’s see where we agree, and then we can go on to where we disagree (if we disagree).

    We agree that ought implies can. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to say that someone ought to do or refrain from something if they cannot do or refrain from it.

    Since your argument that *some* people cannot be vegan (and maintain a reasonable standard of health), and therefore ought not to be vegan, I presume that you believe that if a person has no special health requirements requiring animal products, then they ought to be vegan. Am I correct about this?

    Further, I presume (based on what you’ve written) that you believe those who need animal products in their diet should consume whatever amount they need and make a serious effort to not go beyond that amount. In other words, they should “veganize” their lives as much as possible (avoid all animal products as much as is reasonably possible), and just make a legitimate exception for what they cannot make vegan in their lives (e.g. a specialized diet with certain, specific amounts of animal products).

    If you do agree with the above, then you have vegan beliefs (regardless of your practices, etc). If you agree with the above, then all we disagree on is *perhaps* (maybe or maybe not) empirical facts of nutrition, medical science, and special needs. In other words, we agree on the larger moral claims, but we *might* have disagreement only about certain empirical facts and only about more nuanced moral claims.

    I’m interested in reading what you think about the above.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Dan, the point is not where we agree or disagree. I already know I agree with large chunks of vegan philosophy. The point of the post is that when a suggestion is made that erases people from the scenario, that is an invocation of privilege, and it’s wrong.

      • says

        Actually, it seems that if we are going to communicate about where unacknowledged privilege is lurking, understanding each other is highly relevant. Essential to understanding each other is knowing where we agree or differ (regarding factual or normative claims); therefore, a large, relevant part of the point is where we agree and disagree.

        On a careful reading of what I’m writing, one will see that I agree that *if* animal products are, in fact, necessary to a certain individual’s health, then it is wrong to accuse that person of engaging in unacknowledged and unjust privilege, not being a vegan, or some other wrongdoing.

        The empirical claim that certain animal products are necessary for a certain individual is either true or false. Honest disagreement about the truth of such an empirical claim is not “an invocation of privilege”; it is simply disagreement about an empirical claim.

        I think we can agree that generalizing can lead to confusion, whether it is vegans generalizing about people using health claims as an excuse to use animal products for pleasure or tradition (when in some cases the health claims may be a legitimate reason to consume a certain amount of animal products) or non-vegans generalizing about vegans invoking privilege (when in some cases it may be a legitimate disagreement).

        The bottom line is this (and I believe that you assent to this, based on the premises that this blog maintains and what you’ve written): speciesism – like racism, classism, ageism, sexism, and heterosexism – is an invocation of privilege; namely, the privilege of being born human. We ought to eliminate it in our lives as much as possible, and an essential part of that is avoiding animal products as much as possible.

        • Jennifer Kesler says

          My stance is this: I don’t have a problem with animals eating one another. We are animals. I take far more issue with the unnatural manner in which we obtain animal byproducts like milk and eggs. (I also consider rape a worse crime than murder: everyone has to die, but no one has to be tortured. That’s just how I see things.)

          I also don’t tend to think anyone “ought” to do anything. It’s just not how I think. But if meat and animal byproduct consumption should ever become limited to what’s necessary for those who need them, and no one suffered for it in terms of their health or finance, I would be content with that outcome.

          But over all this I prioritize the problem of people seeing *humans* as objects they can use and discard as they please, for two reasons. (1) I’ve been abused by such people, so naturally my self-interest has influenced my perspective and (2) I’m convinced you will never get these people to recognize a cow as a lifeform rather than an object until they can see a fellow human being as a living being with as much right to exist as they have.

          • Youll_Never_Guess says

            I love the way you think. I feel the same way(especially about rape and murder, and torture). I’d just like to add that if people were to stop eating meat save for the meat that they absolutely needed to survive…it would become unavailable to the poor classes. It would mean fewer stock, and higher prices, and somehow I just don’t see insurance covering beef (believe me with the prices I have to pay to eat enough to stay alive, I have asked)…(Especially since I try to buy free range, grass fed, etc., because I figure that if I have to eat them, at least I can help to ensure that they have a good life first.)

            Also, if history proves anything, when humans no longer NEED cattle in large numbers, they will be quickly pushed into the woods, or deemed “threat” to land or human well being, and then be reduced severely in numbers, or even driven to extinction,(as has happened with many species of animal from wolves, to bison, to non working horses). Which means even more abuse. If people want to ensure the best interest of cows and bulls, they will have to come up with a third option, because just choosing not to eat them is not going to benefit them really.

  3. says

    P.S. – The main reason I’m commenting is that I think we agree far more than we disagree (if we disagree at all) on the topic of this blog post, and on invoking privilege generally, and I want to clarify things and nurture our agreement. It certainly seems like we’re very much on the same page in the “big picture”, so I see it as a mutual benefit to gain understanding through discussion.

  4. says

    Just to throw a spanner into the works: I think there’s also some geographical privilege happening in much of vegan thought. For example, veganism is not bioregional in many regions of the world where crops cannot be grown but meat is available. Veganism is downright ludicrous in northern Canada, for example. And yet people live there. Are they supposed to import all their food, like astronauts? That hardly supports the be-good-for-the-planet ideals of veganism, because of shipping costs, and foregoing local food sources in favour of increased loads on distant agricultural lands that may already be overtaxed.

    Or maybe privilege is the wrong concept, here? Not sure.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      I was wondering about that. I do think it’s a privilege issue, because: I don’t hear so much about vegetarianism or veganism outside the US, and in some European contexts, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard “vegetarian” applied to people who eat fish. The movement seems to be largely based in the US, where we have the great fortune, or privilege, to sit on a land mass that’s probably capable of providing for us completely without any outside help – we can grow a rich and varied version of most any healthy diet here. And yet we’ve chosen to carpet the world in fast “food” that’s barely even food. I totally get where vegans are coming from, in that all these cynical quick-buck attitudes are related.

      But yeah, not every region is so fortunate.

      I was also thinking of my own heritage: extremely poor rural folks who owned cheap land and made very little money. On that land, they cultivated animals and vegetables. The cows had tons of greenspace each. The chickens roamed all over the property. The egg collecting and milking was done by humans. The animals were slaughtered as humanely as possible. To ask that family not to eat meat and animal products would have literally been asking them to starve. I don’t know how common that lifestyle is today, but to suggest they were doing anything wrong requires a lot of unchecked privilege.

      • says

        I don’t hear so much about vegetarianism or veganism outside the US,

        And southern Canada. It’s definitely an urban thing, here, at least in wealthier families.

  5. Julie says

    I’d also like to point out people who have sensory issues-folks like those with Autism, Aspbergers, or “simple” sensory processing problems who simply can’t take the *texture* or *flavor* of certain foods-like vegetables, or rice paste, or what have you. Perhaps there are many picky eaters who fall into that spectrum.

    The whole Vegan arguement falls apart to me when I think about those with food related diseases; bulemia, anorexia. I don’t know much about these diseases, but I think their origins lie in control-of-the-self; keeping it for themselves, to form it to their own visualizations of how they should look; or to defy control by parental figures; or gain some kind of control of some aspect of their lives.

    So my point is, strident followers of any diet tend to piss me off. It’s like listening to one’s mother all over again to “eat your veggies” or “be a member of the clean plate club” or “eat more, because food equals love in this family”–food is used for control in a family, and it sounds like many of Vegans/Vegetarians are trying to wrest control for themselves and become other’s domineering Mommies. Ticks me off royally!

  6. Dan C says

    Jennifer wrote:

    “I also don’t tend to think anyone “ought” to do anything. It’s just not how I think.”

    Well if that’s the case, why all the talk against “privilege”? Why shouldn’t we embrace our privilege and flaunt it?

    Further, Jennifer, prioritizing humans over nonhumans is fine, but leave nonhumans alone. In other words, someone’s volunteer work in one area doesn’t absolve them from exploiting in another area. Saying you prioritize humans over nonhumans doesn’t resolve the issue of whether you should exploit nonhumans.

    Anemone wrote:

    “Veganism is downright ludicrous in northern Canada, for example. And yet people live there.”

    Not sure why veganism would be “ludicrous” anywhere, especially northern Canada. That is a particularly bad example also since I personally know a vegan who has lived in the Northwest Territories.

    Julie: Sorry to annoy you. There are plenty of textured “meat” analogues that texture-sensitive people would be fine with (due to the identical texture to cooked flesh).

    Generally folks, what I see here is a lot of evasiveness and unacknowledged privilege rather than any serious examination of the issue of animal exploitation resulting from…uh…privilege.

    Ironic.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Don’t be ridiculous. You can obviously flaunt your privilege if that’s what you want. This blog exists to expose people to another view, which they might choose to embrace. I’m not a preacher. I’m not out to change minds. Just to publicly expose a viewpoint that’s normally kept in the shadows.

      That is a particularly bad example also since I personally know a vegan who has lived in the Northwest Territories.

      One person? Well, hey, I know a woman who likes sexist behavior, so the hell with feminism!

      Dan, really, are you serious?

      • Dan C says

        Jennifer,

        I am advocating for people to eliminate speciesism and the related unnecessary violence that speciesism often entails from their lives. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are advocating for people to eliminate sexism, racism, classism, and similar prejudices and privileges (in the pejorative sense) from their lives.

        Calling it “preaching” is just empty rhetoric to criticize advocacy that you aren’t ready to accept yourself.

        My point about the person in the Northwest Territories of Canada was to prove that it is not only not “ludicrous” to be vegan in northern Canada, but someone has done it for many years.

        • Jennifer Kesler says

          No, I’m not advocating. I’m educating. I started blogs to discuss these things so people could come *if they want* and learn more. I don’t feel the need to go on vegan blogs and derail topics with the question, “What about the rapes of women and children?” I leave your safe spaces open for you to talk amongst yourselves and others that are learning about your views.

          That’s the subtle yet meaningful difference between educating and preaching, and yes, when you guys came on Hathor to derail the topic, you certainly were preaching.

    • says

      There are plenty of textured “meat” analogues that texture-sensitive people would be fine with (due to the identical texture to cooked flesh).

      Are you talking about autistic levels of sensitivity??? I very much doubt it.

      • Shaun says

        Speaking as a person diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (I know, old thread, but it seemed an open-ended question), there are clothes I will not wear, or will not wear in combination with each other, because either the texture or the vibration produced when the clothes rub against each other is extremely disruptive. I’m also a picky eater, at least as much for texture as for taste, but I don’t know enough to know whether is is just a personal quirk or is more broadly applicable here.

        By way of specific example, I consider eating peanut butter to be a mild way of torturing myself. I have a jar in my house, I’ve had it for about 6 months, and sometimes when I’m in a hurry or am out of other things to eat I’ll make a sandwich with it. I don’t buy peanuts because eating them is unsettling. I’m sure there’s some vegan alternatives to these kind of foods, but peanut products are a lot of what *I’m* familiar with as a protein alternative.

        When I was a teenager my mother tried to “cure” me of my AS by prohibiting me from dairy and grain products. I actually won that dispute, simply because that would leave me with so few foods I could eat (yet alone wanted to eat) that would even leave me healthy.

        I really do think there’s a kind of privilege in the way we North Americans eat, and I personally abstain from beef and try to stick to the less-ecologically devastating meats of chicken and fish, and maybe even we should make the ecologically-costly foods more costly. But as soon as you start taking options away from other people you don’t know how few options you’re leaving them with (and this isn’t even touching on people with more serious issues, like food /allergies./)

    • Julie says

      Evasiveness? The texture of *vegetables* is what I meant. Some folks have trouble dealing with potatoes. Others with the taste of vegetables-too crunchy, whatever, they can’t force it down their throats. I’ve read all over about the difficulty picky eaters have, and those with food allergies have, with finding adequate food sources AND with dealing with others who would control what they eat because THEY would eat that food.

      Really, food choices cannot be dictated.

      • Dan C says

        I know what you meant, Julie. My point was that vegan diets have almost just as much variety in texture and flavor as non-vegan diets; you just have to find vegan foods that suit your preferences.

        Actually, food choices can be dictated. For example, United States laws dictated that Jeffery Dahlmer (a cannibal) could not continue his food choices. That said, just like human slavery choices in the antebellum American South could not be dictated, animal slavery choices today in most places cannot be dictated.

  7. Dan C says

    Jennifer:

    One more thing: I made it clear that ought implies can, so none of your objections have addressed my point. Nobody is expecting anyone to starve, etc. But everyone commenting on this blog is, dare I say it, privileged enough to go vegan, and therefore ought to abandon the laughably privileged attitude of thinking that nonhumans are things to exploit and eat. Nothing is more privileged or elitist than thinking someone’s life is your meal (unless you really are going to starve or seriously suffer).

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      No, you sounded like ought implies “duty” which is its primary definition.

      I’m leaving this comment to show your hypocrisy. I just described one of the reasons I have never managed to go vegetarian or vegan, despite quite a few guided efforts by people who were sure they could find the right diet for me. But your comment erases me. Because that’s how much attention span you really have for any viewpoint other than your own, it would seem.

    • Patrick McGraw says

      Interesting that he thinks commenting on this blog means someone has the privilege of functions kidneys, just for one example.

      • says

        Or a functioning immune system. I can’t eat any legumes, and I have to rotate my diet, and every high protein plant I’ve run across had made me very sick. Yet somehow I comment.

    • Youll_Never_Guess says

      I’ve tried going vegan. I almost died. I tried going vegetarian. I was in the hospital for a month. You assert that everyone here CAN, and therefor OUGHT, but you are wrong. You are basically saying I should just die.

  8. Dan C says

    P.S. I meant to say that I personally know a vegan who has lived in Canada’s Northwest Territories for a long time as a vegan.

    • says

      Were they Native? If so, how did they manage to avoid getting diabetes? (I think it’s 80% of Natives in Canada get type II diabetes. Doctors are recommending that they revert to a more traditional local-based diet to prevent/cure this.)

      Of course 80% of Natives is still a very small percentage of the overall Canadian population, so they may not be on many people’s radars.

      • Dan C says

        No, she is not Native. She is a Canadian of European descent. She seems to do just fine. She does not live off the land. She buys groceries and likely requests her grocer to order things she likes. She might also buy certain items via mail order. There are a couple of excellent online vegan stores.

  9. says

    Thank you, Jennifer, for not finally shutting down the discussion. I think the language I used in my comments might have been privileged in presenting veganism as a choice for each and every person. I will be more careful in my choice of words now. But I still have two points: (1) Being vegan even while having certain medical conditions is a lot less impossible than you think. There are vegans with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, vegans with PCOS, vegans with kidney problems, and vegans with Crohn’s, vegans with Asperger’s and autism, vegans with anaemia (though I’m not implying that you are lying about having tried everything for your anaemia. What works for one may not work for another, but my point is there is a possibility of a vegan diet in such conditions). For a lot of diseases for which veganism might seem impossible, you may just have to research more. It could be difficult but not impossible. And I am not advocating experimenting on yourself, I am only speaking about illnesses where there indeed is a proven vegan diet that is working for several people.

    (2) I will quote Jack Norris on even if there are medical conditions requiring intake of animal products:

    […] there might be some people whose bodies don’t make enough of a nutrient that can only be obtained, at this time, from animal foods.
    I once corresponded with an animal advocate who thought his body did not produce enough cholesterol and it was causing him to pass out. He did have very low cholesterol (under 100 mg/dl) which may or may not have been the problem. He said that when he ate cheese, he felt much better and didn’t pass out. We tried to figure out what else it might be, such as not enough calories or fat, but we did not succeed. However, I do not think that cheese, or any other animal product, has magical properties. If the cheese really was solving his problem, then there must be some molecule(s) in the cheese that can be uncovered as the cause.
    Eventually, we might be able to produce all such molecules without harming animals, particularly if in vitro meat becomes a reality.

    So instead of accepting that some people must eat non-vegan food, I propose, we spend more time researching and finding out alternatives to animal-derived nutrients, while the people suffering from the condition stop using any non-vegan products that are not strictly necessary for their medical condition. And I see no reason for those who do not have any such medical condition to not go vegan immediately. It should be obvious that my activism is aimed at the people who do not have any such medical requirement (and there really are more of them than you’d think), not for people who need certain non-vegan products in order to survive.
    In a vegan world, using animals just wouldn’t be a feasible option to be considered even if it could be beneficial for humans. Just like testing on humans can be beneficial for humans but isn’t even considered a viable option because it would be morally wrong to do that to someone who hasn’t volunteered (while being aware of all the risks and consequences, of course). And I don’t think there will be many volunteers for that, unless they are forced to, as a result of class oppression. But in the case of nonhumans there cannot be even volunteers, so testing on them would be morally wrong.

    My stance is this: I don’t have a problem with animals eating one another. We are animals. I take far more issue with the unnatural manner in which we obtain animal byproducts like milk and eggs. (I also consider rape a worse crime than murder: everyone has to die, but no one has to be tortured. That’s just how I see things.)

    I will once again just say this: there is a difference between animals who don’t have a choice and can’t make out a choice even if they did have a choice eating each other and animals who both have a choice and who can make out a choice eating each other. By your logic, you shouldn’t have any problems with human cannibalism because that is also animals eating each other (we are animals) and other animals indulge in cannibalism as well. It’s just natural. The same moral arguments that are applied against human eating humans can be applied to humans (who have a choice) eating nonhumans.

    I also don’t like classifying stuff as natural or unnatural. A lot of people could argue that birth control is unnatural, for example. The basis of my arguments for veganism isn’t that whether something is natural or unnatural (that can be arbitrary, one can argue that heart transplant is unnatural while a counterpoint can be made that developing science and technology and using that for our benefit is perfectly natural for humans), but whether something harms another sentient being and whether doing that is necessary.

    I also don’t tend to think anyone “ought” to do anything. It’s just not how I think. But if meat and animal byproduct consumption should ever become limited to what’s necessary for those who need them, and no one suffered for it in terms of their health or finance, I would be content with that outcome.

    Don’t you think whites “oughtn’t to” enslave people of colour? Don’t you think men “oughtn’t to” rape and then murder women?

    But over all this I prioritize the problem of people seeing *humans* as objects they can use and discard as they please, for two reasons. (1) I’ve been abused by such people, so naturally my self-interest has influenced my perspective and (2) I’m convinced you will never get these people to recognize a cow as a lifeform rather than an object until they can see a fellow human being as a living being with as much right to exist as they have.

    You are implying that being vegan means prioritising nonhumans over humans. I will argue:
    (1) Considering working for nonhuman animals as not as worthy as working for humans is the same kind of thinking addressed here:

    People talk about subjects that interest them and that they are passionate about because these tend to be the areas in which they have the most experience. Choosing to concentrate on one thing does not mean that the person thinks that it is the most important subject, or that it’s the only subject that they ever focus on.
    […]A common argument that is used on people who are talking about special interests — such as feminism — is to say that, instead of talking about Special Interest X the person should instead talk about Important Issue™ Y. This proposed correlation between X and Y is problematic on a few levels:
    1. It assumes that X and Y are mutually exclusive
    2. It assumes that there is an objective determinant for what is “important” and what is not
    3. It creates a hierarchy of issues, which in turn creates a supposed “correct” order/path that must be followed
    [..] It also should be noted that what is important to one person isn’t necessarily important to another person, so trying to determine which subjects other people should be discussing ends up being a losing proposition because there is no objective way to determine what is, and is not, important. […] On top of what one personally finds important, there is also the issue of intersectionality to consider. While some issues have a more direct and immediate impact than others, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily more important. This is because more often than not, Seemingly Unrelated Issue A does have a connection to Seemingly Unrelated Issue B because they are part of a larger system that manifests its issues in a variety of ways. Therefore even though focusing all of one’s efforts on B seems to be more effective at achieving one’s goals, the truth is that working in separate, but parallel, ways on both issues will actually lead to a more full and robust solution than all people focusing on B alone.

    (2) Accepting that your priority is to work for humans over working for nonhumans, you can still be a vegan. For example, being against child abuse doesn’t mean that you have to leave your work with rape victims and concentrate on abuse victims. You can not abuse a child (because being against child abuse means not abusing children just as being against nonhuman use means not using nonhumans) and still work with rape victims.
    (3) Your priority due to your views and experiences is working with humans. I have no problem with that. You can still be a vegan. My priority due to my views and experiences is working with nonhumans. I am still a feminist. A person of colour’s priority due to hir views and experiences can be to work against racism. But ze can still be a feminist and a vegan. All activists don’t necessarily have to work to the same extent on solving all issues but they have to make sure they aren’t a part of the problem on the issues they are not working on i.e. they have to be good allies. This in terms of nonhuman rights means being vegan even if your work focuses on abuse victims who are human.

    I was also thinking of my own heritage: extremely poor rural folks who owned cheap land and made very little money. On that land, they cultivated animals and vegetables. The cows had tons of greenspace each. The chickens roamed all over the property. The egg collecting and milking was done by humans. The animals were slaughtered as humanely as possible. To ask that family not to eat meat and animal products would have literally been asking them to starve. I don’t know how common that lifestyle is today, but to suggest they were doing anything wrong requires a lot of unchecked privilege.

    I think deciding what people did or did not do in the past is irrelevant to the question of what they should do now. Maybe a non-vegan diet was necessary for survival in the past but it certainly is not now for a lot of people. And even if we discuss the actions of people in the past, I would say that the blame lies with the whole system that made it impossible for these people to have a vegan lifestyle, the blame does not lie with certain individuals, because individuals may not have had the power to do that because of the way their society was structured. But a lot of individuals today certainly have the power to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

    Just to throw a spanner into the works: I think there’s also some geographical privilege happening in much of vegan thought. For example, veganism is not bioregional in many regions of the world where crops cannot be grown but meat is available. Veganism is downright ludicrous in northern Canada, for example. And yet people live there. Are they supposed to import all their food, like astronauts? That hardly supports the be-good-for-the-planet ideals of veganism, because of shipping costs, and foregoing local food sources in favour of increased loads on distant agricultural lands that may already be overtaxed.

    Please see this article:
    It directly talks about the food miles vs. food choice question.

    I was wondering about that. I do think it’s a privilege issue, because: I don’t hear so much about vegetarianism or veganism outside the US

    Did you know that I’m an Indian vegan living in India? I have never physically met another vegan, veganism is virtually unknown here, but I still get on fine. Though there is indeed some privilege in being a vegan in India. For example, some vegan food is not easily available in smaller towns and villages and a lot of people don’t have the time and resources to make their own. But my activism is aimed towards those who do have the choice to become vegan (and believe me there are a lot of those as well) and as the demand for veganism increases, it will become a lot more accessible to people who could not adopt it before.

    The movement seems to be largely based in the US, where we have the great fortune, or privilege, to sit on a land mass that’s probably capable of providing for us completely without any outside help – we can grow a rich and varied version of most any healthy diet here. And yet we’ve chosen to carpet the world in fast “food” that’s barely even food. I totally get where vegans are coming from, in that all these cynical quick-buck attitudes are related. But yeah, not every region is so fortunate.

    As the demand for veganism increases, the resources spent in animal agriculture will lessen. The resources saved from not being used in animal agriculture can be used for importing vegan goods not available in your region. In the time of globalisation, when a huge part of the world is already increasingly adopting a uniform lifestyle, where, for example, there is a McDonald’s in every country, when we can find almost anything in almost any country, can adopting a uniform culture of interdependent vegan lifestyle be so difficult?

    So my point is, strident followers of any diet tend to piss me off. It’s like listening to one’s mother all over again to “eat your veggies” or “be a member of the clean plate club” or “eat more, because food equals love in this family”–food is used for control in a family, and it sounds like many of Vegans/Vegetarians are trying to wrest control for themselves and become other’s domineering Mommies. Ticks me off royally!

    There is a difference between following any other diet as a personal choice and veganism. Veganism should not fall into the category of personal option which some people do and some don’t do* because being a non-vegan hurts other sentient beings. In general, our choices are considered personal and our own business only till the time they do not harm anyone else, do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights. The moment they start doing so, they are considered crimes, not personal choices. Would you consider laws against murder and slavery “mommies” dictating your choices? And even if we put aside laws for a moment, would you consider people trying to stop you from murdering anyone or enslaving anyone (and doing so without using any physical force, mind you; doing so simply by trying to discuss the moral imperatives of your choices with you) as people trying to control your personal choices? The way I see it, there is a huge difference between people trying to control others’ choices that are truly personal and choices that are not. Having sex and raping someone may both fall into the category of sexual activity but there is a fundamental difference between people trying to stop you from having sex (which is truly your own personal choice) and people trying to stop you from raping someone (which cannot be called a personal choice with no moral imperatives because it involves infringing upon another person’s choices).

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Once again, you miss the point in your rush to preach.

      I think the language I used in my comments might have been privileged in presenting veganism as a choice for each and every person. I will be more careful in my choice of words now.

      That would be a relief. But my post explicitly stated: the point is not whether there could possibly be a vegan diet for everyone. The point is that people have a right to believe their medical practitioners over you. And you have no business trying to guilt them or erase them with your privileged words into becoming medical experiments.

      Also, you propose lab created un-food as a substitute you would pressure people to take over any animal product their diet requires? I’m against that. I don’t even think we should be taking vitamin supplements (though I do, just because the soil is so depleted where I live from corporate farming, that vegetables in particular lack the nutrients they had 50 years ago). I can’t believe you’d be comfortable pushing synthetics on people who might believe in whole unprocessed foods with the same passion as you believe in veganism.

      Oh, no, wait – I can. Every communication I’ve had with you so far reminds me of talking to evangelical Christians. Or anti-feminist Hollywood types. Because they’re so sure loving Jesus fixes everything or women can’t do X, no answer which would indicate maybe loving Jesus doesn’t fix everything or women can indeed do X must be dismissed as impossible before we can find the *real* answer, which will conform to their prejudices.

      This, for example:

      By your logic, you shouldn’t have any problems with human cannibalism because that is also animals eating each other (we are animals) and other animals indulge in cannibalism as well.

      Is just facetious. Of course I have no *moral* problem with cannibalism. Or with wild dogs or boars eating people. People stranded in dire situations have eaten their comrades to survive, and why shouldn’t they? The problem with cannibalism is that it seems likely to transmit disease in a big way for our species, making it an issue of practicality rather than morals. Also, I assume you’re talking about real cannibalism, as practiced in Papa New Guinea. It wasn’t about slaughtering and eating delicious-looking people – it was a funereal ritual to dispose of loved ones’ remains.

      • Dan C says

        Jennifer wrote:

        Of course I have no *moral* problem with cannibalism. Or with wild dogs or boars eating people…….The problem with cannibalism is that it seems likely to transmit disease in a big way for our species, making it an issue of practicality rather than morals.

        WOW! I have been completely wasting my time here. I had no idea that you would have no *moral* problem with cannibalism, and that you think that the (only?) problem with it is that it would spread disease. Had I known that, I would not have bothered posting even once on this site. I don’t get “wow’d” too often, but this did wow me. LOL.

        • Jennifer Kesler says

          Then I guess we’re done here! Great.

          I suppose you prefer preserving corpses in lead-lined coffins so they can break the natural chain for a few centuries. The idea of my remains feeding someone, human or otherwise, quite appeals to me. We belong in the food chain, after all.

    • Julie says

      You know, I just can’t get over the fact you brought in whether I think murder and rape laws are “Mommyism” and bad laws because I think they’re personal choices. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? You’re projecting onto what you think I think, which has nothing to do with your point, nor mine. It’s truly a vapid arguement.

      What you really want to me to agree with is that animals, farm, wild, semi-domesticated, whatever, are entitled to the same protections as all humans benefit from. I won’t derail this by saying that there are plenty of human women and children still in the very much active contemporary slave trade in these modern days. I DO think animals should have some rights: right to a decent life, a life filled with decent treatment, and love, if necessary, and to be left alone when possible.

      I’ll tell you: Yes, I agree that that animals, many of them, are sentient in varying degrees and in accordance to their own nature. Many types of animals have also been bred for many thousands of years for human sustenance. But you know what? By treating my POV as that of one of an idiot, or a moron, you’ve lost this member of the audience to your plight of wanting to manufacture lab-food for the masses (Soylent Green is People!!!!) that everyone can tolerate no matter what their personal limitations or tastes are regarding a very culturally and personally based choice.

      What it comes down to is: Are animals slaves? Slaves to humans, another animal? I don’t think that’s a Vegan question. That’s an animal rights question which is completely separate from the diet you’re espousing of lab produced processed foods.

  10. says

    Forgot to add this in my comment:
    *In this case I’m talking about people for whom some non-vegan products are not a necessity due to health reasons.

  11. says

    I just saw the comments over on Hathor that led to this, about domestication of animals for food being a form of slavery. There’s a counterargument that domesticated animals live longer healthier lives (when they’re treated well and not being eaten) than wild animals do, and certainly that their species are less vulnerable to extinction, and even the argument that these species may have moved in with us, rather than us ‘taming’ them, because human settlements provide stable food sources. (Like the way pests like rats and mice have chosen to live with us for the food.)

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      I’m remembering deer, wild turkeys and crows coming to feast at my grandfather’s garden years ago. Naturally, animals would recognize the incredible value of veggie farming for them – all that wonderful produce laid out neatly in a compressed space.

      • sbg says

        Hey, the domesticated cows would always get out of their pasture and head straight for our garden when I was a kid. I remember once thinking the sweet corn must have a homing beacon in it.

        This conversation has been interesting. Nose-bleedingly aggravating at some points (sure, I get why vegans are vegans, but that doesn’t mean I have to be one, mmkay?), but interesting.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    There’s an aspect of this discussion that reminds me of debating with pro-lifers: it’s being offered as a given that eating meat hurts animals, and I don’t agree. All animals have to die at some point. If a cow is cared for and slaughtered humanely by humans, that’s a better deal than it would get from, say, wild cats. Or perhaps even disease. Therefore, eating meat does not automatically lessen an animal’s quality or quantity of life: done properly, the life might be enhanced, and that’s not my idea of harm.

    Also, I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer to why we should be concerned about animal life but not vegetable life. How do we know vegetables aren’t intelligent and “living” in a way that’s beyond our comprehension? Isn’t it just a fact of life that in order to survive, one must consume other living things? To make a distinction between animals and vegetables always struck me as narcissistic.

  13. Julie says

    Perhaps Chimera can address the Jains, a religious group in India that does not believe in ANY life being taken, be it insect, animal, or plant. I’ve heard them described as being “self-hating” in that they allow themselves to waste away because of their beliefs. I don’t know that I subscribe to that view of the Jains, but they do take the Vegan credo a few steps beyond what I’ve heard here.

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    Well, folks. Whenever I find myself explaining the same thing three times in one comment thread, because the other commenters talk like I never explained it the first time, I get suspicious. I begin to think, gee, maybe they just selectively avoid taking in anything they don’t want to understand. Discussions like that can have no value, unfortunately. So this one is over for Dan and Chimera.

  15. says

    Totally agree with the post.

    But I would also say that this doesn’t absolve people of responsibility when they *are* in a reasonable position to go vegan (or even just vegetarian for that matter). I feel the same about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, environmental issues, etc., etc., etc.
    People are often not in a reasonably safe position to take action, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect action in such situations. But when they can reasonably do so, they do have a responsibility.

    And responding to something you said in the comments:
    I would agree with the “animals eat animals” argument more if the way we got our meat was typically more like it is in the natural world (i.e. hunting). But that’s rarely the case.

    In general I also don’t think that nature is the be-all-end-all of ethics. Rape happens A LOT in nature, too. But I’m extremely ethically opposed to it in human behavior. (And no, I’m not making a comparison between the *acts* of rape vs eating meat. If you jump on me for that, you are willfully misunderstanding me. Rape is clearly horribly worse, and there is no comparison. I’m just using it to illustrate a case where “it happens in nature” isn’t really a good ethical argument, and where I suspect you would agree with me on that point.)

    “I’m convinced you will never get these people to recognize a cow as a lifeform rather than an object until they can see a fellow human being as a living being with as much right to exist as they have.”

    I rather suspect for people that treat others so badly, it is actually closely related. Animal cruelty in childhood, for example, is often a predictor of later cruelty in humans. I don’t think it’s causal one way or the other. I just think they’re related, i.e. “It’s okay for me to treat things I have power over however I want.”

    And I think getting people to understand that torturing dogs, or cats, or cows, or deer, or whatever is not okay can help a lot with understanding that it’s not okay to do to people either. IMO, it’s actually a more complex and difficult concept to understand that it’s only bad to act cruelly toward one species of apparently feeling animal (i.e. humans).

    Hrm. So perhaps I’d put it this way: trying to get them to understand a cow as a lifeform may indeed be difficult without first convincing them that people are. But I think ignoring the value of the cow may sabotage the latter to some degree as well.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      But when they can reasonably do so, they do have a responsibility.

      Yes, but you and I define ethical consumption differently, and in saying I have a responsibility to be vegan if I can, you delete my right to have my own beliefs about ethical eating that will benefit the planet and its inhabitants most in the long-run. Please read my response to your other comment before responding, because I go into detail about this there.

      Rape happens A LOT in nature, too.

      As an aside, this is not an undisputed fact. I understand the point you were making, which is that even if it WERE true, it wouldn’t excuse human rape, but sadly I’ve seen so many people think it DOES that I can never let the statement pass without making this aside.

      • says

        As an aside, this is not an undisputed fact.

        That’s fair.

        From my personal experience watching birds (especially ducks and pigeons), I’m fairly certain myself that it does happen. The females try to get away pretty fiercely sometimes.

        So from my viewpoint, the onus is on someone else to prove that the kinds of things I’ve seen are actually somehow consent.

        • Jennifer Kesler says

          This from Wikipedia:

          It has long been observed that some animals appear to show behavior resembling rape in humans, such as combining sexual intercourse with violent assault, often observed in ducks and geese. Sometimes an animal is approached and sexually penetrated while it appears to not want it — e.g. it struggles or tries to escape. These observations of forced sex among animals are not controversial. What is controversial is the interpretation of these observations, and the extension of theories based on them to humans.

          Or as a biologist once put it to me: if aliens looked in on humans having rough consensual sex for pleasure, and then watched a rape, could they tell the difference?

  16. says

    If a cow is cared for and slaughtered humanely by humans, that’s a better deal than it would get from, say, wild cats. Or perhaps even disease. Therefore, eating meat does not automatically lessen an animal’s quality or quantity of life: done properly, the life might be enhanced, and that’s not my idea of harm.

    That’s actually a really good point, and I won’t dispute it’s validity.

    However, I would point out that this is far, far from the norm for any animal product you might purchase from a store. It is, of course, possible to get humane animal products, but you have to really do your research, and it’s probably at least as much work if not moreso than just going vegan. The makers of animal products (excepting for small privately owned farms, which only a minority of our animal products come from) do a huge amount of work to obscure their animal treatment practices.

    And this is actually the main reason some of the vegans I know are vegan. Not because they think it’s inherently wrong, just that the way it’s done right now is. And it’s a lot easier to just say “fuck it” and worry a bit about nutrition than it is to constantly wonder if you’ve been hoodwinked by the maker of an animal product.

    Also, I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer to why we should be concerned about animal life but not vegetable life. How do we know vegetables aren’t intelligent and “living” in a way that’s beyond our comprehension? Isn’t it just a fact of life that in order to survive, one must consume other living things? To make a distinction between animals and vegetables always struck me as narcissistic.

    That’s a fair question, and I haven’t seen it addressed well either.

    For me, it’s basically about empirical evidence. There’s pretty compelling evidence that animals (at least with brains) suffer, in the same way that there’s pretty compelling evidence that humans other than just myself suffer. But there’s only very weak evidence, if any, that plants do.

    As a (long) side note, I confess that I find “where do you draw the line?” arguments extremely specious (not speciesist, avoiding confusion). They’re a sure fire way to make anything seem arbitrary and stop discussion. Take something benign like “What is a planet? Where do you draw the line?” for example. We have a good idea of what a planet is. And we have a good idea what a planet is not. But without drawing a precise line that can be written off as arbitrary, there’s always going to be a grey area in-between. Same with male/female, plant/animal, life/not-life, etc. In fact, almost every human concept has this problem. And it’s largely because the real world isn’t sharp. It’s continuous and soft. And that’s critical to acknowledge, of course. But that doesn’t mean that these concepts aren’t useful for understanding and talking about the world.

    So whenever I hear an argument like, “But any precise line we draw would be arbitrary,” I get really skeptical if the person genuinely wants to engage discussion or serious thought on an issue.

    The reason I bring this up is because what you said sounds a lot like the, “But where do you draw the line?” arguments I here about vegetarianism and veganism.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      However, I would point out that this is far, far from the norm for any animal product you might purchase from a store.

      I agree completely, and this is where I personally would like to see change. While I simply don’t agree that eating meat is inherently wrong, I do feel it must be done in ways that give the animal some sort of tradeoff and take care of the overall ecology. Personally, I’d like to see corporate farming obliterated in favor of family farming, but even then the family farms need to be regulated and perhaps re-educated: for example, we shouldn’t just be growing what’s profitable (i.e., stuff that makes for cheap filler ingredients). Even with growing veggies, we have a lot of eco-unfriendly and nutrition-reducing profiteering going on.

      It is, of course, possible to get humane animal products, but you have to really do your research, and it’s probably at least as much work if not moreso than just going vegan.

      ANY sort of ethics to your eating requires loads of work and research. You can’t simply buy organic produce and pat yourself on the back – it’s staggering how much deceit there is in farming, with farmer’s markets merely “flipping” produce they’ve bought at the grocery store, deliberate mislabeling of GM foods, etc. It’s very hard to know what you’re really buying and what methods of farming you’re rewarding with your money, no matter what diet/lifestyle you choose.

      For me, it’s basically about empirical evidence. There’s pretty compelling evidence that animals (at least with brains) suffer, in the same way that there’s pretty compelling evidence that humans other than just myself suffer. But there’s only very weak evidence, if any, that plants do.

      That’s not my point, which is that we’ve been wrong so many times when we assumed non-sentience that it’s a dangerous assumption to make. Whales were stupid, unthinking, unfeeling sources of awesome stuff until, whoa, we discovered they had language. Most people still think parrots just mimic, despite research that parrots can do math and have roughly the intelligence of a 6 year old child. We used to think women didn’t have souls, for pete’s sake! How many times must we be proven wrong in our assumptions of non-sentience before we start to question the basic rule? I’m not saying we need to assume air and rocks are sentient – there’s no indication of internal “stuff” going on. But with plants? Sure there is. Maybe they’re not sentient, I don’t know. But I’m way not comfortable making that assumption. Therefore I have to conclude that they may well be, and I’m eatin’ ’em, because otherwise I starve. Obviously, you have the right to assume non-sentience in plants if you want, but my position is logical and valid. (And before you ask, yes, I can’t presume non-sentience for bacteria, either.) Also logical: the assumption that veggies don’t mind you eating them is just as speciesist as assuming cows don’t.

      But consider this: if one accepts, as I do, that veggies are living, possibly sentient, things, and therefore eating=killing no matter what I eat, then I accept that this is a limitation of the natural world (which is what I’ve done). There’s still a lot to discuss in terms of how to minimize the killing, how to do it ethically from a green standpoint which includes respect for life, etc. It doesn’t draw an artificially clear line.

      • says

        First, let me explicitly state my agreement that we have the right to live. So if consuming something–whatever it may be–is necessary for us to live, then certainly it is simply a fact of nature that we must do so. I agree with that completely.

        ANY sort of ethics to your eating requires loads of work and research.

        Of course.

        But consider this: if one accepts, as I do, that veggies are living, possibly sentient, things

        I accept that they are possibly sentient. You also mentioned bacteria later on. But I would add computers, TV’s, and perhaps even rocks. Sentience (in the “this experiences things” sense) may be an inherent property of matter for all we know. In fact, so far, that’s the only explanation that’s really made any sense to me. But it’s not really testable. So I don’t see it as a matter of practical ethics.

        I also accept that there may be a god. But I am still atheist because there is no evidence of it. It’s not really testable either. And that, too, I do not see as a practical matter of ethics.

        Philosophically, the reason we presume anyone other than ourselves experiences things is because they are similar to us. I’m human, and I know I experience things. So it’s reasonable to assume that you, also being human, also do. Self-similarity is our best bet on determining if something actually experiences things or not.

        I think it’s also reasonable to presume that anything with a brain probably experiences things. Or at least there’s a good enough chance that we ought to assume it in our ethical models. Again, this is not testable. But I think it’s a reasonable presumption, and one that has some evidence in the form of similarity to ourselves.

        You called it narcissistic before, but to me it’s a matter of using the available evidence to try to infer as much as we reasonably can. My experience of the world seems fairly tied to my brain. So for lack of empirical testability, I’m going to use that as my basis.

        I would also argue that, even if we assume that plants are sentient, then reducing animal product consumption is still the best way to minimize plant consumption. Those animals need to consume a lot of plants before they reach our mouths, clothes (fur, leather), etc.
        This is also one of the main ecological motivations for vegetarianism. (Although admittedly this is not quite as compelling a reason for veganism.)

        We used to think women didn’t have souls, for pete’s sake!

        To be fair, I think the mistake was assuming that men did. 😉 (For humor.)

    • says

      I raise my own poultry, and have seen first hand the difference between how they would do in the wild versus how they do at my place. My turkeys are larger and healthier than wild turkeys. There really aren’t wild chickens anywhere to compare my chickens too, so I can’t judge there. They have space to wander, plenty of fresh veggies, bugs to pick at, clean water, and a dish full of a food that provides for all their dietary needs in whatever quantity they choose to eat.

      When the time comes for one to be dinner, it is killed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

      I value my birds, but I do not humanize them. I know they feel pain and fear, so I try to ensure they never feel either as much as it is in my power to do so. But reasoning skills? I’ve seen my hens stick their heads out of the fence to get a better look at the coyote attacking them through the fence.

      However, a couple weeks ago, we had a raccoon get some of the birds. It tore one apart and ate it, then proceeded to tear the heads off six more and leave their bodies scattered about the yard. The surviving birds were so traumatized it was nearly a week before any of them laid eggs again, and I had to bring four of them in the house to doctor up because of their injuries. I am much nicer to my birds than their ‘natural’ predators, or even nicer than they are to themselves. For chickens, if the ratio goes less than 1 rooster to 10 hens, the roosters kill each other (and occasionally the hens).

      If you do want to ensure birds are well treated, the words you need to look for on the packaging are not ‘cage-free’ or ‘organic’. You want ‘free-range’ birds. You will pay more for them. It costs substantially more to raise birds well, and if I sell the meat at anything less than $4 a pound I have not made a profit.

      If you just want the eggs, a good sign is when the yolks of the eggs are orange rather than yellow. That means the chicken was allowed plenty of access to fresh veggies and likely bugs which provide for their entertainment as well as nutrition. For a quarter, you can generally convince a local farmer to crack an egg to show you. But you will pay more for fresh eggs. If you want the privilege of cheap eggs and meat, you are contributing to the abuse of animals. Vote with your dollars.

      • says

        I meant to reply to this post a LONG time ago. Thank you so much for the information. I buy the organic eggs at Trader Joes. I have no idea how well the egg laying chickens are truly treated *for* that market, but I have noticed a perceptible difference in the taste and texture of the eggs.

        I’m not against animal slaughter-not a vegetarian here-but I AM against abusive, in”humane” practices of raising and killing animals bred for comsumption. I do think their quality of life has everything to do with the quality of the life that they later help sustain. (don’t want to get all mushy & spiritual at this point, but it can go that deep and weird)

        I’m glad your birds have *you*.

  17. meerkat says

    It seems like you wanted comments about vegetarianism to go here rather than on the Hathor post at http://thehathorlegacy.com/some-musings-on-us-independence-day/ so I’m posting this here instead, in response to “A lot of those vegetarian meals include soy, though, which is one of the most common allergens.”

    I was raised vegetarian and ate little to no soy for two decades until I got a room mate who was fond of tofu, so it is definitely possible to eat vegetarian without soy (of course this is privileged, we had time to cook and we didn’t have to worry about food security). Vegan would be harder.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Sorry, I was unclear. Yes, it’s possible to be vegetarian without soy, and even vegan. The problem is that soy is often a hidden ingredient in processed and put-together dishes, and in restaurants, masquerading under various names. So for those of us who are sensitive to it, we have to know what’s gone into what we’re eating better than the people serving or selling it to us. Because most of them – even health food store owners – have very little idea what “soy-free” actually means.

  18. Emma says

    There’s also cost. I’m pretty sure a carton of eggs costs a lot less than a block of tofu, and there are plenty of people who just couldn’t afford to buy it on a regular basis.

    • Jenny Islander says

      *raises hand*

      Tofu costs more than three times as much as eggs. Eggs are cheaper than about half of the beans or peas I can find in my local chain stores and much cheaper than any organic bean or pea at the health food store.

      As for veganism always being easier on the earth: Nobody local grows legumes for protein. If I did have the land and the know-how and the time, I would probably be able to do it myself, weather permitting. But I would be eating dried peas or white beans, plus oats or barley or rye, plus some mushrooms, for my protein. That’s what can grow here–again, weather permitting. If everybody local went vegan and grew their own food, we would have to expand the local human footprint enormously, taking up most of the land near the coast, where the microclimates allow for growing vegetables and/or grain. We would have to chop down more old-growth and old second-growth forest and displace local wildlife from the most favorable climate pockets for finding early spring plants and so on. And because the best places for growing food tend to be widely scattered, we would need new roads to connect them, or else boats with diesel engines to take the food along the coast even when the wind and waves were against a sailboat. And I live in what is sometimes called the banana belt region of Alaska. The offical gardener’s climate zone map of my state includes a special zone that doesn’t even have a number, just a matter-of-fact note that if you can get anything to grow there, more power to ya. That zone covers most of the state. So vegans who live there must import food, from hundreds of miles away if not further.

  19. says

    As someone who has anemia and who despite popping iron supplements everyday and looking at the nutrition guides at the back of food packages to check what the iron content is AND eating lots of meat who still gets tired very easily, I appreciate this post SO MUCH. I’d love to be vegetarian and not have to eat animals, but I wouldn’t be able to get through work without it. If I don’t have red meat for breakfast (yes, I have meatballs for breakfast), I won’t have the energy required to get my work done and unfortunately, I kind of need to work to pay bills and buy food and afford rent.

  20. DragonLord says

    I sometimes have to wonder how many vegans would survive 30 days after oil stopped being available.

    I also wonder what plans said vegans have for avoiding the mass slaughter of domestic food animals in the event that their message gets across and they convert the world to veganism.

    I know that both of those positions are extreme, but IMO for something to be sustainable it has to not fall apart when faced with those sort of extremes, which is also why I have no problems with Jennifiers statement about not being morally against cannibalism.

    I guess that what I’m saying is that I think that veganism is a privilege that those that are wealthy enough to have their food imported from where ever it can be grown can choose, however for the rest of the world it’s not only unsustainable, but possibly also suicidal as well.

  21. Grizzy says

    • Shaun says

      This. Absolutely this.

      Judging by the comments in the thread, though, some of the diehard vegans would prefer human beings starve than eat an animal, even though eating other life forms is what all animals do. If they can distinguish the difference between a plant and an animal, it baffles me they can’t distinguish between, say, an insect and a primate.

  22. Kirsten says

    Directed to Mr. C, Dan, and those who agree with them.

    What you seem to have an issue with is the mass farming techniques of the U.S. and whoever else uses those techniques. With conventional fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, genetic modification, transport, storage and even use, vegetables are a whole different can of nasty worms. The main difference is you don’t see them in pain because they aren’t much for faces and talking. No pens, no death squealing, just pretty fields.

    I can’t believe how many people think that conventional farming of any sort is a good thing, or how few understand that the imported fruits and veggies we get come with chemicals banned in the U.S. but not their country of orgin. But not everyone has the time, the money, or the knowledge to get the very best. If we all did the best we personally could in reducing all our consuptions the whole world would be better off.

    And also, control our own breeding! Genetic diversity is dwindling directly due to human expansion of farms, houses, buildings and we hardly blink an eye! Am I the only one who thinks all life deserves to not be destroyed via negligence and ignorance..?

  23. Casey says

    I was MSNing with a friend and we randomly segued into talking about veganism/vegetarianism and a whole host of other things He WANTS to be vegan even though he doesn’t have the means to do so, because he feels that veganism is RIGHT because it doesn’t hurt animals, because he believes the killing/eating/using animals to eat is inherently wrong and it’s CALLOUS/DISRESPECTFUL/RAPING THE EARTH (but that wearing an animal’s fur is SLIGHTLY less wrong)…He also agrees with PETA that owning pets/companion animals is wrong/in”humane”/slavery/abuse because the animals in question have been bred/evolved to a point where they’re helpless without relying upon us (but he owns numerous pets). He’s also of the mind that humans and animals eating each other and plants is wrong all around, and in a different (ideal) world, we could all just live off sunlight…he also had a bone to pick with this quote:
    “Additionally, there’s something very classist about asserting that everyone could just go vegan right now if only they’d stop making excuses.”

    He said to me:
    “That is exactly what Buddhist and Shinto societies expected of it’s citizens, and the poorest of people made room for that.
    Hathor posts like this are filled to the brim with privilege.
    there is no HONORABLE way to do that
    that is privilege
    to think that there is an honorable way to do it
    THAT
    is privilege
    that is thinking you are better than them and thinking that they you UNDERSTAND them
    when you know you don’t, and we all know we don’t
    but that doesn’t lead to the right wing arguments that people also use either
    and that is what pisses me off about the world right now
    we CAN
    be kinder
    we CAN
    be better
    but it is FULL of privilege and insanity to think that eating any dead living being is honorable.
    that’s why I get so pissed off at Killian and her family for saying that animals feel nothing and were put here to feed us
    they felt stuff
    we need to recognize that”

    (it was very stream of consciousness)
    Well, it just bugged the shit out of me that he thought what Jennifer had to say was privileged or that killing animals in the least-worst way possible and thinking that was okay was privileged…can anybody help me out on deciphering this? I’m of the mindset that there’s nothing inherently wrong with growing crops and animals for human consumption as long as you do it in a healthful/humane/conscientious way but as much as he says that he and I are essentially on the same page, it still comes off like he’s on the other extreme in the food-ideology spectrum of it’s all bad, but I guess it’s just a reactionary defense against the people he knows on the other side of the spectrum who relish their positions as “carnivores” and being on the “top of the food chain” and even think that “animals don’t think/feel so whatevs” to justify negligent food-reaping techniques…
    Anyone else feel free to help me make sense of this/sort this all out? I’m a little confused.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      That’s because he’s just throwing the word “privilege” around like a weapon. Doesn’t actually specify what privilege the posts are supposedly guilty of. It reminds me of misogynists telling us we’re not being open-minded when we reject their position that women deserve to be treated like shit. I just ignore people like that.

      In other words, he doesn’t really think it’s privileged, he’s just saying that to be hurtful. And hey, who doesn’t love people who say things just to be hurtful! Gosh, how “kind” of him! How “better!”

      • Casey says

        Yeah, I still got a MASSIVE bone to pick with him about that, and it bugs me because we’re usually of a like mind on most socio-political issues, and he says that he agrees with what I have to say on this issue and that we’re essentially on the same page but I think he’s being WAY too extreme…he keeps insisting that even though he thinks eating another living thing is inherently WRONG he DOESN’T think people/creatures who do it are evil but I still feel like he’s being an asshole.
        I kept at him with my “moderate” (LOL) stance that there’s nothing inherently wrong with eating animals but he was all like
        “WHY must you try so hard to justify what you do as RIGHT~!?!”
        He seems to conflate “not being inherently wrong” with “justifiable animal holocaust”.

    • says

      Point out that a leading cause of extinction in animals is their habitat being turned into crop land. That’s how I usually break the brains of ‘omg save the earth go vegan’ types.

      That’s why I’m for a lot of the ‘genetically modified’ crops. Increasing the productivity of a small amount of land makes more sense to me than increasing the amount of land. That’s another way to break the brains of the ‘omg NATURE!’ folks.

      • Jennifer Kesler says

        Farmers have been selectively breeding forever, so less radical GM than we practice now has always been part of farming. The problem, IMO, is when the people behind GMO decide (1) who cares is the GMO version has the nutritional qualities of gravel, IT’S RESISTANT TO DISEASE or (2) so what we sucked out all the nutrients, we’ll just replace them in the lab – “enriched” sounds so healthy, doesn’t it?

        I grew up with access to “organic” veggies before the term had been coined – back when “organic” was food. What I’m eating nowadays from the produce aisle, my body doesn’t even recognize as food. Is this because of GM? Maybe somewhat, in some cases, but it’s largely because corp farms don’t take care of the soil they use. They don’t bother letting nature put the nutrients into the veggie as it grows; they just figure they’ll take care of that in the lab later with synthetic crap or, well, GM. So I did just implicate GM again, but the point is, it doesn’t HAVE to be evil, and getting rid of it wouldn’t help anything if we continue to apply the same lack of standards.

        • says

          A lot of the ‘GM crops have no nutritional value’ thing is just propaganda. In most cases, your body really can’t tell the difference.

          GM crops aren’t just about pesticide resistance. And don’t knock the value of disease resistance. Think back to the great potato famine, among other such disasters. GM crops are working to prevent such from ever occurring again.

          Imagine, just one moment, what it would be like if some of these sustenance level areas actually had disease resistant, drought resistant, high nutrient value crops. Just imagine if every child had the privilege of going to bed with a full belly.

          That’s the goal of GM crops. Except Monsanto, those guys are just assholes out for money, any good they do is purely accidental or a result of pressure from marketing.

          When Zambia outlawed GM crops, people starved.

          Yes, I know we currently grow enough food to feed the world twice over and the real problem is distribution. We can’t solve the problem of people being power-hungry, greedy asshats. So let’s research ways to increase local food production.

          • Jennifer Kesler says

            I said ALL crops lack nutritional value anymore, not just GM. I should’ve included for context that I’m in L.A., where even the farmer’s market offerings are really still just corporate farmed crap, some GM, some not. It doesn’t matter – the soil is worthless. Additionally, California sends its only decent produce – if indeed there is any – into markets where it has to compete with other agricultural centers (when I was a kid back east, California produce was good). What finds its way into cities is “food substitute”, because there are so many people clamoring for food, they can foist crap off on them for twice the price of good stuff. So they do.

            That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

          • says

            I used to live in California, and I am currently a farmer. I also grew stuff and sold it at the farmer’s markets when I lived in CA (LA area, to be precise).

            If you go to the market in LA itself, your information is about 95% accurate. If you can get out of the city proper now and then, you can still find excellent small-scale farmers who have roadside stands.

            As for all crops lacking nutritional value, well, frankly, not sure where you get your information. As I’ve mentioned before, I grow most of my own food, and I’m not unique.

            • Jennifer Kesler says

              I apologize for not being clear. My grandparents grew their own food, and it tasted great and was very satisfying. The storebought produce I’ve had in most cities where I’ve lived was not as good as theirs (they just lucked into the best damn soil, I guess), but still good. What’s available to me in L.A. is barely food – not tasty, and never satisfying in the way other produce is. So where I got my “information” from was my own body, and I consider it a reliable source.

              And perhaps my information was “95% accurate” a few years ago, but that’s another part of the problem: it’s gotten worse in the past 5 years. The farmer’s market on Third and Fairfax, for example? They’re mostly just flipping produce from the grocery stores now. That wasn’t true 5 years ago. It used to actually be stuff from farms, and while it was hit and miss, some of it was not bad.

          • says

            Also, depending on your setup in LA (aka, do you have a sunny balcony) you can supplement your diet nicely with some container gardening. I used to always grow my own herbs and the like, and in most of the apartments I lived, I could usually have a couple productive tomato, pepper, and pea plants. If you’d like, I can see if I can find my journals from that time period and post what seeds I always found the most productive.

            Just keep in mind, when it comes to flavor, ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ are not synonyms. If you want tomatoes, go with Romas. Far more versatile, and actually have taste.

            • Jennifer Kesler says

              I don’t have any sun hitting any part of my apartment or balcony at any time of year, but thanks for the offer. I’m in the middle of a concrete jungle, blocked in on every side. I’ve been wanting to get into container gardening for some time (I do have a friend who’s able to do it, and she does grow some very good produce), but it’s just not an option for me currently.

              Just keep in mind, when it comes to flavor, ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ are not synonyms. If you want tomatoes, go with Romas. Far more versatile, and actually have taste.

              Hmm, if you think it’s a matter of species, maybe that’s why you’re not understanding what I’m telling you about growing methods. It’s a matter of overgrowing an individual tomato. Any type of tomato can taste fantastic when it’s grown in good soil under good conditions, not involving a hothouse. I grew up with really tasty homegrown tomatoes of several species. All things being equal, maybe a roma does have more flavor than a beefsteak. But grow a beefsteak under excellent, non-corporate conditions, and it’ll taste much better (and feel more nourishing) than a grocery store roma.

          • says

            If you think it’s a method of growing methods, maybe you aren’t getting what I’m telling you about species.

            It’s not a one or the other deal. The huge ‘super tomatoes’ grown on synthetic fertilizers, yeah, those aren’t that nutritious. A roma grown under those same conditions maintains a lot better flavor and nutrition because Romas don’t ‘overgrow’ as much. The ‘superboy’ tomatoes overgrow even in my compost and worm-farm fertilized garden, that’s why I don’t grow them. They get huge way to fast, and that’s no way to make flavorful food.

            If you do want to grow your own, splurge on the seeds. Don’t go to Wal-mart and buy the 69 cent seed packs, or the packs at your grocery store which come from the same place and are often expired before they are even packaged. Go someplace like bountiful gardens, or seed-savers. Start with good, quality seeds and you can get some good produce even under somewhat less than ideal conditions. If you want tomatoes and peppers, go to pepper joe’s for seeds. I have a small ‘hothouse’ that I keep going year round with pepper Joe’s stuff just because the peppers in stores here are so…bleh. They are still good. Hell, his Serrano and Habanero thrive in the tiny window in my bathroom even in the middle of winter.

            I also get my information from my own experience and my own body. Maybe LA markets have gotten worse in the past five years, it’s been about that long since I was there. I’d venture that has more to do with economy than a change in farming techniques. It’s now cheaper to flip grocery produce than it is to drive to Modesto or other such towns and actually pick up the good produce.

            Is the farmer’s market in Watts (103rd/Central) still there? It was always pretty good. If memory recalls, it was on Saturdays. I think on Sunday it moved to the Macy’s parking lot on Colorado. The Thursday one in South Pasadena was often nice as well. LA also has at two CSAs with reasonable weekly subscription rates. 562-984-2917 and 323-644-3700 are the numbers I had for them, though shares tend to go quickly.

            If you do want to try your own container gardening, even if you don’t have a sunny window, there are still options for you. I’ve had some good results with the daylight bulbs, though some plants just absolutely refuse to thrive in such an environment. Tomatoes though, are pretty forgiving plants. If you are willing to risk idiot neighbors claiming you have a pot farm, you can actually do quite a bit with a hydroponics setup. I start most of my plants in the winter, in my basement, in such a setup under UV lights. For herbs and the like, I find tarragon practically thrives on a diet of bad light and car exhaust. Seriously, I got far better results out of the planter by the parking space in CA than I ever do in my carefully tended garden out here. Stupid plant.

            I was going to point you towards a place in LA that you could lease a garden space, but they aren’t there anymore. Pity, always better to be able to tailor your garden to your own tastes and nutritional needs.

            • Jennifer Kesler says

              Yeah, I believe the last of the lease space went about 5 years ago. Gotta put up yet another parking structure, you know!

    • Cinnabar says

      As humans, we can exert more conscious control over our actions and behaviours than most other mammals. But how can he think that ALL killing and eating of animals is wrong? We DON’T live on sunlight, we need nutrients from plants and animals. Sure it’s sad when a fluffy little animal dies, but how does he explain (or live with) the natural evolution of carnivorous species? =\

      We’re lucky that we evolved to be omnivorous so that we can choose what we eat to a certain extent, rather than having to rely on specialized diets like a lot of other species. (Hey, that’s a kind of privilege too! =D)

      I guess it’s just a reactionary defense against the people he knows on the other side of the spectrum who relish their positions as “carnivores” and being on the “top of the food chain” and even think that “animals don’t think/feel so whatevs” to justify negligent food-reaping techniques…

      That might just have a lot to do with it, yeah. But that’s clearly not how you think at all. Truth be told, this whole issue is something I need to work out for myself too. I don’t get into it often with people, but when I do I usually brush it off before it starts getting heavy with something like, “I love animals! I love them so much, I want them to be a part of my very being!” =P

      BTW, I come from a country that is predominantly vegetarian for religious and cultural reasons (since he mentioned that), though I myself am not. Though I live in a cosmopolitan city that doesn’t have many issues with non-vegetarians, I know there are places and communities that DO actively revile meat-eaters as “filthy and unclean” and there have even been a few efforts to shut down businesses that cater to them. This both feeds off and leads into vicious religious intolerance against the minority religions that do eat meat.

      If he thinks vegetarian cultures are some sort of non-violent utopia where everyone skips down the street hand in hand and the animals are super adored, he’s wrong. Animals are treated like garbage here, routinely hurt or maimed without a second thought, left to rot in the streets. Pets are barely tolerated (although this is changing) and there are numerous reports of outright harassment and threats to people who try and take care of street animals, or even pet owners from their housing societies. Individually of course people love and take care of animals and pets, but broadly this is not a culture that respects animals, not unless they’re *useful* in some way.

      He’s welcome to live here if he wants. =\

      • Casey says

        Do you live in India? I think I remember you talking about Indian soaps on Hathor. 😀

        I’m honestly DREADING talking to him again on MSN after he gets back from his boyfriend’s family’s big ol’ weekend-long Christmas bash. I’m afraid either he or I will dredge this back up again. On Christmas Eve I was still reeling from that conversation because I felt like he was guilt-tripping me/personally attacking me because I only kinda-sorta agree with him…I ended up crying and nursing a bad eye-ache for most of the day. I mean, we’ve been friends since 3rd~4th grade and I only have like three really good friends (him included), and I’m conflict-avoidant so I try not to rock the boat for fear of losing someone close to me… 😐

        The more I re-read/think back on that conversation, I can’t help but think he was maybe shit-face drunk at 2 in the morning (he lives in Sweden, and they have back-asswards policies regarding drugs and he can’t smoke weed, so just drinks to excess instead), COMBINED with the fact that he’s been reading up on shamanism/pagan beliefs for years now which has exacerbated his anti-Judeo-Islamo-Christian resentment (the reason he kept throwing around the word “HONORABLE” is because I asked him “surely halal and kosher meat is okay?” and he answered back “ZOMG, HALAL MEAT IS HORRIBLE!!! AND SO IS KOSHER!!! It is LAUGHABLE that they “sacrifice” an animal as they prey to God and think it is an HONORABLE death, NO DEATH IS HONORABLE!!” (I think he wants to convert to Jainism or something) that I think he was just trying to get the poison out.

        He also started out the discussion by making a weird conflation with eating meat and wearing fur, he said,
        “If you’re an Inari-Sami in Finland, or an Inuit or any kind of indigenous person where it’s cold
        and you’re wearing a seal skin that’s okay.
        But if you’re some bitch in NYC who wears a chinchilla coat just because she can
        Then FUCK THAT BITCH”
        So he starts out by acknowledging/believing that people who use animals due to their region/culture/religion is a-okay due to context, but wasteful USian consumers are bad (coupled with unintentional misogynist language!/barf), and I guess yeah, I get behind that, but then it snowballed into something nonsensical to me:
        “It’s okay to eat grandma’s meat but you can’t wear her skin like a coat or squeeze her into a diamond ring”
        And I’m like WAT? I’m no scholar of the animal kingdom, but I assumed for the most part that there was a cannibalistic taboo in almost every species.
        His whole argument quickly became muddled and infuriating.

        Add in the fact that he not only owns multiple pets, but also eats meat of all kinds and enjoys it very much that my asshole-ish-ness wants to seep out and say “YOU EAT MEAT AND OWN PETS, WHAT’RE YA COMPLAININ’ FOR~!??” which is so douche-y and disingenuous/condescending.

        • says

          Would it be possible to make this topic with your friend an “agree to disagree” and drop it topic? Sometimes there’s no getting through, or getting someone to think rationally on a topic, and it’s best simply not to address it. Especially if it’s a friendship/relationship you value.

          • Casey says

            Well by the time he finally got back home to talk, I ended up messaging HIM first to complain about some HORRENDOUSLY OBVIOUS white privilege that was displayed by a (somewhat civil) wrestling forum I frequent, he responded in turn with a story of male entitlement on a “foreigners living in Sweden” forum HE frequents where a bunch of American men were complaining about how they couldn’t hook up with DEM SWEDISH FEMALES because they didn’t respond to their macho bravado. It’s surprising how volatile the politics of meat can get, because (as I’ve stated before) when we discuss ANYTHING ELSE pertaining to social justice/equality movements we’re of a like mind on the subject and everything’s hunky-dory! 😀 😉 😛

        • Cinnabar says

          Yeah I do live in India. 😀 Back in the early days of the internet, I used to tell people that we lived in mud huts, took elephant buses to work, and strapped laptops on our back as we swung through trees. Sadly, that doesn’t work nearly as well anymore. Curse you, Slumdog Millionaire for ruining my fun!!! xD

          Anyway, about your friend, it really DOES sound like he got drunk or something when he started spouting off and then the brakes failed and he just couldn’t stop until he crashed into a wall of FAIL.

          I so understand wanting to avoid conflict for fear of losing a friendship. (Conflict avoiders of the world, unite!) The good advice to give here would be that solid friendships (and even not so solid ones) will weather tiny things like this and come out okay. But I totally understand how hard it is to shake off that feeling, so maybe you can just pretend it didn’t happen and carry on like normal next time you talk? xD

          And if he does bring it up again and tries to needle you on it, I like GardenGoblin’s point:

          Point out that a leading cause of extinction in animals is their habitat being turned into crop land.

          Also, if we all suddenly stopped eating meat, what would happen to all those animals that were bred for consumption? There’s just no space for them all. There would have to be a mass slaughter anyway or we’d probably end up slaves to the New Chicken Overlords.

          And most importantly, what is he doing having pets and eating meat while telling you how bad it is to do the same?? WTF?! If he still tries to get into this with you, remind him of this fact CALMLY and continuously. Like for every point he makes, just say over and over, “Don’t you eat meat and have pets too?”, “Hmmm that sounds interesting, but didn’t you enjoy eating X meat dish the other day?”, “Oh by the way, how is little Fluffy doing?” and so on. He’ll cower under the barrage of your cold, impassable logic! 😀

          • Jennifer Kesler says

            I’m not sure which is better: elephant buses, or New Chicken Overlords. 😀

            I think Gategrrl had a good idea with “agree to disagree” and I also like what Cinnabar suggests about gently reminding him that his position is inconsistent and therefore difficult for you to debate. I have friends where I have just plain banned a certain topic – religion, usually. Because I really don’t want to disrespect their beliefs, but OTOH, I don’t want to hear what I consider to be misogynistic lies and sociopath-benefiting fantasies.

          • says

            before someone else brings this up as a reason to shoot down everybody’s argument, in the modern industrialized farms of the wealthy west, we grow crops to feed the animals, who in the case of cattle, consume ten calories to every calorie of food they provide on average, so the cropland argument does not fly.

          • Casey says

            Yeah, things ended up blowing over (if you read my comment to Gategrrl), and I also forgot to clarify that he’s well aware of how damaging crop land IS, and that he just wants us all to live in eco-friendly shamanic-pagan-hippie covens and grow our own little victory gardens, which in itself can be construed as a naive privileged dream, considering how (as Jennifer stated upthread), some people just aren’t able to grow their own food for whatever reason.

          • says

            I’m already a slave to the chicken overlords. There are days when I get up at dawn to trudge through two feet of newly fallen snow and spend half an hour in below 0F conditions digging through a drift by the coop door all so I can bring the birds their morning dose of warm water and refill the mini-duck pond.

            And the little boogers haven’t laid me an egg in a month.

            Note: We also grow a lot of crops to create the terrible corn-based bio-fuel. Soooooooo many better options out there for fuel than corn, but noooooo, we can’t use those, that would be silly.

  24. Youll_Never_Guess says

    Attackfish: If we stopped eating them, do you think they’d stop eating our food? Face it, if we don’t breed them, they will still breed themselves. If we don’t eat them, we’ll still reduce their numbers big time (kill them off so they don’t “threaten” our farms, land, and children) and nature will also have a cruel way of knocking them off. People choosing to not eat them, is not enough to help them. If you really care about the animals, then protections and options need to be in place before people stop eating them. Otherwise they will go the way of the moose, wolf, wild horse, buffalo, etc.: Reduced in numbers to the point of near extinction, because we don’t need them anymore.

    • Jennifer Kesler says

      Additionally, the animals WILL EAT EACH OTHER because that’s what meat-eating animals do. It’s part of how nature is designed to work. Certainly, we need to consider how much meat we’re eating, and how we’re treating the animals we eat, and what kind of life they have before becoming food. And I’d love it if our primary method of body disposal for humans was to leave the remains out for the carrion critters.

    • says

      *holds meat eating hand up high* Yes, but a) would they be eating industrialized farmed corn that destroys soil, and the water table and b) actually, I have a feeling most of them would die instead due to starvation. I know that undoing the meat industry in this country would absolutely not be animal friendly. I have issues with the meat industry in the way they are not for the most part concerned with humane treatment and ecological sensitivity, and corn feed makes the meat less nutritious, but I am not a vegetarian, and I don’t want to see an end to it. I was bringing it up because the argument was annoying me in its ease of countering. I like to point out flaws in arguments of the sides of issues I agree with before opponents can, and then claim the whole argument is bunk. Which it’s not.

  25. says

    I just had a former customer call me up and inquire if we can return to our old arrangement now that she has moved back. She has an autistic son, and his difficulties are severely impacted by his diet. He has a few allergies and a large number of sensitivities. For starters, anything washed with soap can trigger a melt down.

    His sensitivities also include most processed foods. Additionally, he has issues with a lot of types of beans. Corn is also an issue, including HFCS. Note: I am not privy to his actual diagnoses, I just know that a lot of his diet was worked out trial and error with his doctor overseeing.

    For protein, he gets eggs and chicken. I kept the chickens on a carefully controlled diet (which, by the way, they absolutely LOVE) of meal worms, grains, and greens. The eggs they lay he can eat without triggering any of his sensitivities. I stagger some meat birds in with these chickens on that diet so there is one ready to slaughter each week. I process the birds using only boiling water for sanitation and they are generally in her freezer within an hour of their last cluck.

    And best of all, in his mind, he gets to come pet ‘his’ chickens and collect the eggs himself on the weekends. Since she bought a house and they are outside the city limits, in the spring I’m going to help her put up a 4-chicken coop and set up a meal worm farm. I’ll put fertile eggs in the incubator come March-ish from my easter-egg layers and he’ll get to come by to observe the development and hatch.

    There will be four happy and probably spoiled chickens and one little boy who can have his favorite breakfast without it sending him into a week long series of melt downs. Egg and goat-cheese on gluten-free bread means he’ll be able to actually hold conversations. With the chickens he can join 4H and have some socialization outside of his special needs classes.

    Pet, food, and hobby. Chickens are AWESOME!

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