Animals are not “meat.”

Via elephant journal
on Jan 4, 2010
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Shouldn’t we advocate solely for veganism?

Another personally riveting conversation came out of our recent Wool may be Natural—but it’s Cruel post over on Facebook.

matt bear

Here’s some of the Facebook comments:

Thanks for writing that up, Gary. elephant is a progressive site, but they totally miss the animal/compassion connection, so I am happy to see they were open to posting this.
Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis
Not sure where you get that, Lisa: If you search, say, “PETA” or “vegetarian” or “free range” or “rescue” etc you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of posts on the subject of relating to our animal friends more humanely. Why wouldn’t we, or anyone, be “open” to raising issues of compassion, or lack thereof!
If we can do better, please do help us—you’re more than welcome to contribute.
Hi Wayne, I have been an avid follower of elephant from issue one, and now online. While elephant addresses many worthy issues, veganism is hardly ever discussed as an option. Yes, you do discuss factory farms and the environmental issues that follow, but the suggestions are usually, if not always, to eat so called “free range” or humane meat  under the guise that these options are cruelty free or even environmental and sustainable, when the reality is that they are none of those.

As to your question of “Why wouldn’t we, or anyone, be ‘”open” to raising issues of compassion, or lack thereof’, well, that is a loaded question, but I would wage a guess that it has to do with not wanting to alienate one’s supporters and sponsors.

Thanks for reading, and the good work that elephant does do.

Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis
Lisa, thanks for your reply. Again, please do a search for ‘vegan,’ you’ll see we do a ton of posts…and again, please do write for us, we’re only as strong as the voices that make up our community.

Finally, I think you overestimate our sponsorship–we’re hardly paid for by anyone, right now, by readers or advertisers, it’s much tougher than when we were a magazine.

You got me on one point: I do value effecting the eating habits of meat-eaters as well as the small percentage of Americans who are veggie or vegan. If they can go with more humanely-raised meats, while it’s still killing obviously, at least it’s not quite so…horrific.

Hundreds of posts touch on, or focus on veganism: and I do hope you’ll add one, as did Gary when he commented re wool cruelty a few weeks back!
Waylon… Hi there! I don’t want to nit-pick: I understand that every little step counts in some way. But: just to be clear for accuracy—so that non-vegans own exactly what they are doing—can we not call them humanely raised “meats”? That sort of seals their fate, when they are called “meat” from the git-go… Just saying.
Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis

[You’re] not nit-picking, Bea. I for one completely agree, and it’s an important distinction —we’re talking about sentient beings!—but it touches on my point, that at least half the USA could not care less what we call “meat”…and it’s those people who, if we can get them to at least switch to free range (even though it’s hardly free enough) we could begin to lessen the daily unholy suffering of our otherwise out-of-sight out-of-mind animal friends.

I realize there will be “incremental” change. I know too that less suffering is better than more…But I do fear that advocating “happy meat” does encourage some to continue eating animals.

As an example, in one of the videos someone mentioned that the breed of sheep that doesn’t have the extra skin is a better alternative…to “wool”. And that might be so, but it just enables people to continue using “wool” and “sheep” that much longer.

I know there are no easy answers…I just really dislike calling “humanely” raised animals “humanely raised ‘meat.'” You just can’t “raise” “meat”—you must kill animals for “meat.” And I don’t want to ever lose that distinction.

BTW – I don’t know if even half the people care about who they eat…Seems like 90% could give a hoot. 🙁

Thanks again, Wayne. Again, I appreciate all the good work that elephant does in educating the community in so many wonderful ways. As a 25 year vegan and animal advocate, and as an avid reader of elephant from day one (and i mean cover to cover when it was a magazine and now when I receive my email newsletters), I have often felt like the recipes , articles, endorsements via products or restaurants, and even the small number of sponsorships you receive, are heavily animal product oriented.

Perhaps it is just our view points, as you clearly feel like veganism has been treated fairly. Of course I very much appreciate your willingness to discuss and be so open. It is not as common as you may think(:
Warm regards,
Waylon Lewis
Waylon Lewis
Well, I’m vegetarian, I wish everyone were vegan or vegetarian or at least ate “humanely-raise meats”—I know, animals murdered for our pleasure!—I’m trying basically as a green-minded media source to educate about more mindful alternatives for all of us.
As [Bea] said, maybe 90% of Americans don’t want to be either vegetarian or vegan, so educating them away from factory farms, agribusiness, is an urgent cause.
cow meat burger vegan flesh


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19 Responses to “Animals are not “meat.””

  1. Suasoria says:

    It's terrific that we can have an intelligent, reasonable dialogue like this on a subject that is so emotional to people. What's more personal than how we choose to nourish ourselves? Thank you for creating the space for this conversation to take place.

  2. Stan Dyer says:

    It is important for people to know that "humanely raised," or any other "euphemistic" meat still requires murder to harvest. People want to feel better about themselves by consuming such products, but the truth is they are doing little good at all either for the environment, or for animal welfare. The only responsible meat is no meat, and it is so easy to arrange one's diet to comply.

  3. Hi, I'm all about the do no harm thing, it's a principle I hold very dear.

    But I simply cannot see the difference between killing an animal for food and killing a plant for food (assuming that both are done in sustainable, ecologically sound manners). Both are living entities and I believe that both are just as capable of feeling pain, suffering, etc.

    It is a simple fact of life that for living beings to continue living, other living beings must die.

  4. Yes it is a fact that plants and animals are both living beings. And I agree that they both have a consciousness that we don't fully underdstand. Yet to say there is no difference between killing an animal and killing a plant boggles my mind.
    How many of us keep plants as constant companions on walks and even in our beds? There is to me such an obvious difference between the emotional relationships we have with animals and that with plants. The massive level of institutionalized suffering of animals for meat production cannot even be compared with farming vegetables. To me there is no question that given the choice to eat plants or animals, there is by far way more suffering created by choosing animals. Environmentally, ethically, and karmically.

  5. Kate says:

    Can anyone recommend a few good cookbooks or reading on high protein vegetarian cooking?

  6. sar says:

    vegan yum yum by lauren ulm is a great one with really interesting takes on meals. oh and the engine 2 diet by Rip Esselstyn has loads of protein rich stuff

  7. Penelope Low says:

    That's very cute… You're a funny dude!

  8. Penelope Low says:

    Whatever you manage to do is wonderful. Every time you decline meat, you are saving an animal's life and it's great that you are trying to do this. It is very hard to give up meat, especially when you are surrounded by non-vegetarians.

  9. […] We need to find a middle ground for the millions upon millions of people who need to eat meat, and want to live the mindful life, and are never going to become vegan. We need to find a way for them, us, to cause less animal suffering and environmental devastation, and better live in harmony and awareness with where our production of “meat.” […]

  10. via
    Sharada Hall
    Once you start to pay attention to this language, you realize that the fact that it's an animal sitting on your plate at lunch is totally being forgotten, obscured, and denied.
    Once you get more accurate with the reality of what's on the plate, choices change rapidly.

  11. But if none of us ate meat, domesticated animals would vanish. I'm veggie, but can't help wondering if cows, chickens, turkeys etc…would be like tigers and elephants, who are well-loved—and almost extinct.

  12. Ellie Thomas says:

    its a debate about sentient beings… animals are sentient beings, they show fear when they are frightened, they write when they are in pain and they yelp when they are suffering.
    potatoes do not cry when they are pulled from the ground. they do not have brains, they cannot form companionship with other beings.
    that is the point.
    i feel like this is a very weak argument meat eaters pull out to lessen their meat consumption guilt.

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Right: but the difference between being right and reducing suffering is immense. Will the 96% of Americans who eat meat become vegan? Not likely in short-term. Can we make factory farming illegal, or at least clearly immoral? In short-term, I think we stand a chance. It's about awareness. Better to take steps in right direction than appeal for ideal and get rejected.

    That said, as Thoreau said, build your castles in the sky, now build the foundation beneath 'em or something…meaning, tell us how to get there, and we'll follow!

  14. Devon Bryant says:

    ok, stop with the emotional buzz words. Meat is not "murder'"- its "slaughter"

    from wikipedia:

    (Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with "malice aforethought")

    unless your a cannibal, eating animal meat does not require "murder"

    killing yes, suffering even, but is it murder? no.

  15. […] Meat, these days, is so over-consumed and, well, dirty—factory farms and bad diets and chemicals and abuse equal unhealthy animals—and fish is so mercury-laden it knocked Entourage’s Piven down for the count, and is not recommended in all 50 US States for pregnant mommas or their soon-to-be children. […]

  16. 32000days says:

    I'm a vegan and I do agree with this distinction. Murder refers to unlawful killing of humans.

    While there's a lot to disagree with the living conditions and environmental impact – and eventual demise – of feedlot cattle and battery hens, it's killing of non-human animals. Not murder. (Despite the old album by The Smiths.)

    Most of my meat eating friends are not so avoidant or naive – they are pretty clear about what's on their plate. It's not as though they don't know that their "yummy burger" or "delicious steak" was once a steer, or their "chicken" was once, well, a clucking, moving around chicken and not a dead cooked chicken.

    When we infantilize meat eaters and presume their ignorance ("if only they KNEW!") it can be counterproductive – they often feel preached at, insulted, and shut down the debate ("I shouldn't eat this steak? Too bad – watch me!").

  17. […] I’m offering my reaction, here, not as a vegan—I’m not, at least not yet—but as a human who happens to think pigs are alive, and thinking, and don’t need to be made into art. If you’re going to kill them, at least have the respect to eat the effing “meat.” […]

  18. […] poignancy, and truth, including those who love meat in their mouths, and those who’d like to punch meat eaters in the mouth. It’s one big happy […]

  19. […] poignancy, and truth, including those who love meat in their mouths, and those who’d like to punch meat eaters in the mouth. It’s one big happy […]