To hell with your sustainable meat. Have a heart.

Via on Oct 31, 2012

There are few things lately, aside from maybe the election, that really make me doubt that as a whole humans are generally good.

There are some bad apples, no doubt. And I won’t pretend I love everyone. As a rule, however, I like most people I meet and though I am realistic about the negative, I consider myself an optimist.

But the past few days, news surrounding two oxen has given me a feeling of hopelessness that has been hard to shake.

I first heard about Bill and Lou late last week when a post from one of the dozen animal rights groups I follow on Facebook urged me to sign a petition to save two oxen, Bill and Lou, facing slaughter in some town in Vermont.

As I often do, I signed the petition and followed up with the suggested polite but forceful email without really doing much research into the situation.

Thinking there was little more that I could realistically do, I put the oxen and the petition out of my mind, day dreaming as I always do that my one-line email was the tipping point for the person in charge to have a change of heart.

Monday night I came home from work, however, to find my mom reading a New York Times article about none other than Bill and Lou! Excited that the situation was getting some media attention, I eagerly grabbed for the paper, wholeheartedly expecting a feel-good story about how thanks to a handful of activists, the animals were saved and are now living their lives peacefully on some fantastic Vermont farm.

What I read, instead, made me want to first cry and second travel to Poultney, Vermont to find and slap some of the people quoted in the article.

First, a little background. Bill and Lou are a pair of oxen that have spent their lives working the fields at the farm at Green Mountain University, helping to further the school’s mission to be free of fossil fuels. Now too old and feeble to work, they are scheduled to be slaughtered at the end of the month and fed to students in the college’s dining halls.

The oxen are fairly well known in the town, however, and several townspeople—supported by animal activists from around the country—are fighting to save them. A farm sanctuary in Springfield, Vermont has already agreed to take them.

The environmentally-conscious university has refused, however, arguing that using the animals for meat is the most sustainable option to dispose of them. The farm was established on campus, administrators argue, to promote sustainabilty through grass-roots gardening.

“Our choice is either to eat the animals that we know have been cared for and lived good lives or serve the bodies of nameless animals we do not know,” William Throop, the college’s provost, was quoted in the New York Times article.

Now, I am all for sustainable farming and local food, but these people are acting like they only have the option of eating Bill and Lou or sacrificing their environmental ethics by getting meat from a factory farm. Well, what about the option of not eating that meat at all?

I am not naive. I know most people’s food politics do not align with my veganism. However, it is hard for me to accept that here are smart, socially-concious, educated people facing a shit storm of bad media attention because they refuse to sacrifice a few hamburgers?

Here are a few other quotes:

“It’s about sustainability, and I’ve been a vegetarian for three years, but I’m excited to eat Bill and Lou,” said Lisa Wilson, a senior. “I eat meat when I know where it comes from.”

“Why aren’t you at factory farms right now?” Ms. Hardiman said to a group of protesters. “They’re going to taste delicious!”

These are animals that many of these professors and students have interacted with on a daily basis for close to a decade, and the majority of the student body supports killing them. These people are not detached from their food. They cannot play the ignorance card.  They gave these animals names and now that they no longer have a direct use they are not only quick to get rid of them, but are actually excited about killing and eating them. Even if you eat meat and would never consider yourself an animal activist, that should disturb you.

To Help Save Bill and Lou sign on of the several petitions online and send a polite email to:

Kenneth Mulder
Farm Manager, Research Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Green Moutain College
mulderk@greenmtn.edu

Bill Throop
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Green Mountain College
throopw@greenmtn.edu

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

Like elephant journal for animal rights on Facebook.

About Adeline Bash

Adeline Bash is a Boulder native currently studying journalism at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Like all journalists, she hopes to make a difference through her writing by advocating for those who cannot do so themselves. Along with writing, she plans to spend her life climbing mountains, learning everything she can, traveling the world, and spending time with as many of its living beings as possible. You can see more of her ideas and writing at Trekking Through It.

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13 Responses to “To hell with your sustainable meat. Have a heart.”

  1. Ola says:

    Thanks for spreading the word, Adeline. Just signed the Care2 petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/843/838/964/spare-
    and will email Kenneth Mulder & Bill Throop.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Man, this really is depressing.

  3. GMC Alum says:

    Have any of you worked with oxen or other draft animals and do any of you know anything about sustainable farming? Bill and Lou were never pets or mascots. Green Mountain college made an educated decision as a community to cull Bill and Lou and radical vegans like you with contrived agendas and too much time on their hands created a media shit storm. Green Mountain is not gonna back down from its decision because a bunch of crazies wasted a bunch of time blogging and trolling GMC's facebook page.

    • Adeline Bash says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read the post. I imagine if you took the time to read mine you have read others so I will not reiterate what you have already heard about our position. I will say, my agenda as a "radical vegan" is simply to help animals and the environment. I'm sorry if that offends you.

  4. Yam says:

    Thank you for covering the story about Bill and Lou!

    I think Alejandro Gabriel Argerich said it best when responding to a GMC student in favor of the slaughter, "Sustainability and the negative aspects of factory farming are nothing but a pseudo-intellectual smokescreen to justify the heinous fact that after over 10 years of work as beasts of burden, these wonderful animals are to be repaid with a cruel death….The heinousness of the decision is further exacerbated by the fact that a compassionate alternative is available to the school, accompanied by pledges for substantial donations. The school is CALLOUSLY choosing to kill, and like you they attempt (and fail) to justify their decision using purely utilitarian through process, devoid of any consideration for honor or compassion."

    Green Mountain college has been exposed. They have handle the situation with zero professionalism, and pointed fingers at everyone else for the PR nightmare that they created. The headline, "Making mascots into hamburgers" wouldn't turn heads?Come on. Labeling 40,000 people as extremist? The school needs to do themselves a favor and take the money that has been offered for Bill and Lou and hire a real PR person.

    The culture as a whole at the college is very disturbing. Students have been revealed as a bunch of kids who care little about Bill and Lou as creatures that have worked at the school for 10 years, let alone respect for them as a food source. I worry about other animals at the farm.

    Here is some additional information: http://blip.tv/for-the-animals/99-green-mt-colleghttp://blog.bravebirds.org/archives/780

  5. Edward Staskus says:

    4H kids who exhibit their animals at county and state fairs, often sleeping in or near the pens, make no bones about the fate of their animals. They acknowledge their affection for the animals, usually giving them nicknames, but acknowledge that they or someone else is going to eat them. That is the way it works. I am a vegetarian, but I don't see the cruelty in what the Vermont folks are proposing. It seems in line with their values, which are the values of most people. In fact, given the circumstances, I would suggest they are doing the best thing possible. It's unfortunate, and would not be happening if we were all vegetarians and/or vegans, but in the world as it is, most animals are going to end up being used and/or eaten.

    • Adeline Bash says:

      Thank you for the comment Edward. The point is, we don't need to eat these animals. As a vegetarian you seem to recognize this so why accept that just because most people's values do not align with veganism or vegetarianism, or at least they say they don't, that it is acceptable? Societies have done a lot of heinous things for decades that we now consider old fashioned and horrific. Just because this is the way it is doesn't mean that is how it should be or that we don't have a right to speak up when we feel something is wrong. The best thing possible for these animals, or animal now since one has been killed, is to live out their lives in peace at one of the dozens of sanctuaries that has offered to take them. Most animals might end up eaten but these animals do not have to be.

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