June 10, 2012

It’s Not You, It’s Meat.

Photo: R'eyes

Some day, can we talk about what meat is without you throwing a hissy fit about how I’m moralizing?

I want to be free to say “eating meat is disgusting” without you hearing “you are disgusting.” Because it is, and my reasons are grounded in logic, facts and sound research. And you are not disgusting. The behavior of eating meat in today’s climate? Uninformed, unimaginative, yes. You as a person? Not disgusting.

I love you. Got that? I am not perfect. Hear me? Good, now can we put those two to bed? One time, can we converse about the manufacturing and consumption of animal products without you trotting out an irrelevant but deflecting comment? The tactic belittles both of us.

Let’s skip your quip that I’m judging you or f*cking hurting plants and soil. Yes, I also am ruining the planet by my wasteful existing. I consume oxygen. Guilty as charged. But all of that is irrelevant to this particular storyline and you know it.

You are being deliberately obtuse, consistently, and it obfuscates the conversation. This omnivore’s judo is more than a gut reaction: it is really your only solid argumentative ground.

Japanese Whaling Industrialists have been able to forestall talks about bans at the International Whaling Commission by pointing at the French and going, “Hey, you fois gras munchers, don’t talk to us until you stop force-feeding geese.” That is not an exact quote per se.

Finding fault with the one pointing out your unjust behavior is a vacuous argument which will forestall growth forever. We are all flawed dummies. Can we just start there?

And really, could we skip the threadbare lie that eating meat is a personal choice? I love that you can keep a straight face when you say it, but, as my dad would say, “Ya gotta be sh*ttin’ me.”

Photo: Royalty-free image collection

Animals are not little machines for us. But we don’t even need to go there.

The expense of that steak is shared by everyone. Water subsidies, rivers wrecked by cow manure, un-breathable air, billions of sentient beings suffering, organic, small-time farmers crushed underfoot, they all scream wordlessly that this position is a bald, cold, cruel lie.

Like many lies, it sounds really good. But eating meat is not a personal choice. Ask a cow. Or one of the 94 other animals most meat eaters consume every year. Ask a river. Ask a conscious taxpayer.

I am not talking down to you, or judging you. Now get your head out of your butt before it gets lodged in there permanently. See what I did there?

It is stunning how defensive and protective you meat eaters become when threatened with information and science revealing facts about eating meat. You leap to tangential defenses.

The effort to safeguard a certain amount of ignorance is almost instant, and often hostile. “Oh yeah? Well you drive a car, don’t you?” Ummm, yeah. We are not talking about my driving habit, this is a conversation about what meat is.

“Ha! Bet you heat your home with fuel oil, huh?” The lack of logic is constant, and its power is poleaxing, if that’s the word I’m after.

Bryan Kest, on his Facebook page, recently asked people who argue for a change to plant-based diets to shut up. He coached us to live life as such a power of example that people are simply inspired to emulate us. Seriously. This happened. From a major leader in the yoga world.

Thanks Bryan, that will make change happen. I picture a glacier with a flat tire. Heading uphill. On a windy day.

Meat eaters, on the other hand, run from conversations about the stuff they are eating faster than a policeman cruising toward a donut.

In response to “Forking Up”, a recent article I wrote for elephant, I had a reader comment that since I travel internationally, I cannot claim to be a vegan.

Okay. I give up. You are right.

But that is, without question, the least interesting, most irrelevant comment you could possibly contrive in response to what I wrote. I was talking about the power you command as a fork wielder. How did we get onto my penchant for plane rides?

What a joy to have just read the top essay in the New York Times “Ethicist Contest.” It was a fail on wheels. The task was to write why it is ethical to eat meat. The winning essay singlehandedly redefines the term “oy.”

In it, the writer points to an idyllic method of eating meat that maybe seven people on the planet are doing, and that the vast majority of humans could never afford. The essay is lambasted (!) in the comments so many times over that I’ll spare you the details.

There was no defense, in the essay, for the gruesome, ice-cold practice of producing and eating meat as it happens today. Because you cannot defend that. Really. You can’t.

So meat eaters, if this New York Times contest-winning essay is the best you can do, maybe let’s keep the topic of the meat industry and animal cruelty flowing for awhile.

Seriously. Can we talk?

The habit of deflecting and redirecting the conversation is leaving your side of the argument empty of logic and lacking in depth. The practice of eating meat remains morally undefended.

“Soy cows have feelings too” is funny, but it lets you off the hook on something bigger than you are allowing yourself to see.

You are abdicating an invitation to a more quiet, innocent approach. People like themselves more when they are causing less suffering from their choices. Really. They did studies.

Photo: Identity Photography

Try the salad. One time. Have the beans, they are delicious. Eat one meal knowing no animal died to make the plate. It’s your fork.

Stop being the meat industry’s b*tch.

Because it’s not you.

You are better than that.



Editor: Kate Bartolotta

Like elephant readers for animal rights on Facebook.

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