Is “vegan hypocrisy” redundant?

April 16, 2010

I am reposting my response to a vegan soapboxing about animal rights and respect.  The title is provocative — I think there are plenty of ways and reasons to be vegan and vegetarian without being a hypocrite.  I just wish that the hypocritical thinking wasn’t as pervasive as it currently is — it doesn’t help anyone when vegans are constantly trying to position themselves amongst the “elite” of environmental activists, and it calls into question their understanding of the systemic nature of oppression.  To talk about the oppression of animals (and plants, and…), we need to talk about human power, privilege, and identity, and how that shapes our relationships with non-humans on this world.  It means taking a look at our spirituality and the spiritual connection we experience and share (or not) with all living things, regardless of their kingdom.

The argument I hear boils down to “I don’t eat meat because I respect animals.”  I believe it’s a dangerous and incoherent line of reasoning. “Oppose the injustice against the plant kingdom: stop eating plants!”  I.e., the injustice isn’t in what we eat, it is in HOW.  For examples, see many of the aboriginal cultures we are still systematically dismantling.  The full response is below.

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US on track to produce the world’s first environmentally friendly atom bomb

August 27, 2009

UPDATE (8/05/10):  I guess this is not a joke…We are actually feeding plants directly to our weaponry.

…the Green Hornet, which is being tested here through June, is only the latest in a spate of aircraft flying on plant power.

An anonymous source within the United States Department of Defense leaked information yesterday about a new “Green Warfare” initiative.  “The Obama Administration handed us a mandate to “green” our defense systems,” said the contact.  “Naturally, we used this as an opportunity to find new, creative ways to kill people while protecting or even enhancing Mother Nature’s beauty.”

The flagship initiative, according to unnamed sources, is a solar-powered atom bomb that uses 75% less mined uranium than previous versions.  The reduction in mined uranium is made possible by a new genetically-modified algae that actually creates pure uranium molecules as a byproduct of its metabolic processes.

“Obviously, we are very happy with the results,”  said the source.  “It’s also a low-cost, low-impact way to create weapons-grade uranium without having to go through the traditional enrichment process.”  The percentage of mined uranium needed is projected to decrease even further as the new so-called “Green Nuke” production increases.

Critics charge the program is mostly the smoke and mirrors of a slick PR campaign.  Says Patrick J. Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute, “The numbers look nice on 25% recycled paper.  But we found that much of the lessened environmental impact is due simply to the bomb acting as a population control device: it kills people instantaneously and over time through fallout and cancer-related deaths.  Population control is a proven way to lessen environmental impact, but conventional nukes achieve the same effect at a much lower cost to tax payers.”

Other analysts speculate that the Green Warfare initiative is simply part of the DOD’s anti-terror public relations strategy.  “We think they are taking a two-pronged approach,” said Ian M. Cuthbertson of the World Policy Institute.  Although the US Government is reducing its old nuclear warhead inventory, it may seek to remain a nuclear power and retain its international moral authority by “building public support for a new generation of American nukes even as it builds the case against the infamous ‘dirty bomb,’ which can be up to 75% mined uranium,” explained Cuthbertson.  He anticipates that public fear of a terrorist attack will skyrocket when Americans learn that the mining process for Yellowcake itself has a massive carbon footprint.  “The war on terror is really a popularity contest of sorts.”

When pressed for comment, unnamed Pentagon officials admitted that the Green Nuke program is part of a larger US Green Warfare strategy.  According to these sources, the Pentagon has made a “substantial commitment” to researching and implementing low-impact forms of combat — even those that make a positive contribution to the environment.  While little information is available about the “Green Nuke,”  the Pentagon did officially unveil another smaller initiative at the same time of the leak.  Code-named “Seeds of Peace,” the project is a prototype m-16 bullet that explodes on impact into a bouquet of flowers.  “It’s really a beautiful sight to behold,” said Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell.  “It also causes instant death.  There’s no way anyone would ever survive the impact of an m-16 round exploding from their chest into an exquisitely arranged floral pattern.”  After a brief pause, he added “War may be hell, but it is also poetry.”

However, sources say that many of the prototypes are still undergoing heavy testing and development.  Other projects are still stuck in the concept stage.   For example, one official downplayed the Seeds of Peace program.  “Currently, it’s just a mulch bullet,” said the source.  Another source was quick to add that the end goal of a “mini-meadow” sprouting instantaneously out of the battle dead can help to offset the carbon released into the atmosphere both during battle and afterwards, when corpses start rotting.  “The problem is mostly the industrial scale at which we kill people,” said the second source.  “We are still a long ways off from being able to do it in an environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral manner.  But with each new war we are making exciting progress.”

Patrick J. MichaelsPatrick