Veganism, pt 2

a follow up cross-post to my previous entry on veganism:

“I also like to tell people who are pro-life, that they’re not truly pro-life if they eat meat. OH ZING!”

Vegans eat the unborn young of trees, shrubs, herbs and other plants. They must not be pro-life. (what the hell do you think seeds and nuts are?) Vegans eat the tender young (shoots) of plants.

by the logic of the original post, vegans must have a deep-seeded (no pun intended) hatred of every non-animal living thing. because by eating them, they can’t possibly love them. you all must be incapable of loving trees, young shoots and sprouts, flowers, fungi, bacteria, etc. it’s inconsistent and ridiculous. we MUST love all of it, and yes, we MUST eat some of it.

oh, and dung beetles must surely hate shit. otherwise, why would they eat it? unless they hated it?

violence is a fact of life. killing something to eat it is not inherently unjust nor oppressive. exploitation, control, ecocide and genocide are oppressive. life kills other forms of life to live. humans are no exception, unless you’ve bought into the cultural myth of the mind/body dualism that allows us to selectively decontextualize ourselves and our activities. life, however, does not systematically oppress [pardon the redundancy, but i wanted to be clear] and DESTROY other life. only our necrotic culture does that. we did it with the great auk, with the passenger pigeon, with the buffalo, we are doing it with the salmon. the fucked up thing? we don’t even eat that much salmon! not eating salmon hasn’t done anything to save the salmon. depending on salmon for our livelihood? you bet that would give us one hell of a good reason to ensure it’s continued health and survival! then we move beyond the shallow “hey, change your diet, asshole!” conversation to, “how can we remove the dams? stop the industrial agriculture? the clear cutting? the pollution? the overfishing? the acidification of the oceans?”

eating (ok, doing) ANYTHING is unjust and atrocious within the context of our modern industrial production system, but veganism doesn’t do anything about that. it’s weak lifestyle activism. it’s like saying “save the environment and fight global warming by riding your bike.” [disclosure: my bike is my main form of transportation] if everyone did that, it would have a negligible impact on env. destruction, because we’ve done nothing to end the exploitation, enslavement and profiteering off the land. if by “eat vegan” you mean “reduce your footprint and increase your dependence on your local land-base” then yeah. but that’s not what “vegan” means. not eating meat doesn’t stop animal cruelty, nor does it make any of us less dependent on the system and mindset of cruelty that defines our culture.

it’s a tangential relationship only. take a look at the multi-layered environmental catastrophes of fossil fuel dependence and tell me that industrial fossil fuel faux leather is an inherently more “ethical” choice than animal skin. how many people here feel sick thinking about slaughtering another animal for food? why don’t you feel that way when you cut off a head of lettuce? when you pop pumpkin seeds into your mouth? under this vegan logic, animals are the only thing worth saving because “level 5 vegan” (don’t eat anything that casts a shadow) isn’t possible and suicide seems to be off the table. the logic is flawed.

the natives here ate salmon, and also said that they loved the salmon. they used leather products. for thousands of years, with no appreciable deprecation in the land-base. before modern white culture came along and systematically destroyed everything wild. “not eating meat” has no direct correlation with love of animals or animal justice nor does it have any direct correlation with sustainability. a vegan can (and often does) have a massively larger footprint than meat eaters, by virtue of class, gender and racial privilege.

here are my recommendations:
let’s end animal ownership and slavery (what we call “domestication” up to and including “pets”). let’s be strategic and incremental, while keeping the long-term goal always in mind. we’ll say, “yes, i’m so glad you switched from mystery meat to country natural beef!” and mean it, because while it’s domestication of a domesticated (and, like us, invasive) animal, it’s more just and compassionate than before.

let’s end vivisection, animal testing. let’s end animal abuse (which is inextricably linked with the abuse of other humans).

just, let’s not pretend that veganism is somehow inextricably tied to any of that. cuz it’s not. so go ahead and be a vegan, that’s great. no skin off my back (haha…ahem). just don’t inflate the importance of being one with posts like this. all it does is distract us from the core issues, needlessly shame people from a position of moral superiority, and allow a small segment of folks to pretend they are actually accomplishing something meaningful by “not” doing something

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2 Responses to Veganism, pt 2

  1. ozob says:

    Another comment I remember reading: “Animals have central nervous systems and feel pain” and therefore we shouldn’t kill and eat animals.

    Who are we to decide who or what feels pain? Scientific racism “said that Blacks were less intelligent, sub-human, perhaps not even quite human, that they didn’t experience pain” and hence the experimentation and slavery was completely justified:
    http://www.seeingblack.com/article_129.shtml

    Vegans use this same logic as a basis for arguing their position of “animal justice.” Namely, that anything with a central nervous system is now off-limits for exploitation and abuse. Apparently, vegans have the /?/-given right to decide who feels pain, why, and what that means about how we treat them.

    It leaves the foundation of the abuse untouched and intact. Abusers, when deprived of a victim, will simply find another. So it’s perfectly OK to abuse anything that doesn’t have a central nervous system, because “it doesn’t feel pain.” So go ahead and treat your flora like crap.

    Vegan morality implicitly dictates this, by virtue of arguing that eating meat is inherently abusive, and that it is “impossible to love/respect” something that we eat. Whenever vegans say this, they are saying that they do not love/respect the plants, bacteria, fungi, and other microfauna. That is to say, vegans, by their own logic, cannot love/respect the vast majority of living organisms (by number and biomass) that inhabit the earth. That is disturbing to me.

    If a central nervous system is required to feel pain, then what accounts for empathy? There is no neural network that transmits pain signals between people, and yet I feel the pain of others around me.

    The answer is that a neural network is not necessary. We are better off assuming everyone around us feels pain, regardless of its place, structure or evolution. Regardless of whether we even define it as “animate.”

    The golden rule: treat others as we would like to be treated. Everything needs to eat. Killing is a fact of life. How would we want to be treated if we were another’s food? That is the important question, and it is one that I have yet to hear a vegan tackle. I have only seem them run screaming in the opposite direction.

  2. ozob says:

    Here’s another one: Vegans are no more “pro-life” than those of the anti-abortion side of things, who ignore things like the mass starvation and poverty of so many children, the suffering of parentless and abused children, the terror and tragedy of those children who are caught up in the resource wars we are continually fighting to ensure a constant supply of oils and minerals into our industrial economy.

    All veganism means is, “I don’t eat meat or use animal products.” Which is fine. A vegan may very well love animals, but not necessarily. But to say that veganism is required to love animals is to say that we must eat *nothing* (not tender young or unborn children of plants, not microfauna) if we truly love this planet in its entirety. And substituting more fossil-fuel based products is ethically dubious at best.

    As soon as people start taking veganism to mean or imply something else about justice and morality, it falls apart. As long as there are “resources” (a concept in our mind that we map out onto the reality around us), we will exploit, abuse, dismantle and destroy. Until we see our place in the world as a series of relationships — with everything — the destruction will continue. With or without veganism.

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