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Feb 22 2008

Stanley: now with even more invective

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“By creating the [Animal Compassion] Foundation, Whole Foods Market is pioneering an entirely new way for people to relate to farm animals [...].” — Whole Foods CEO John Mackey

Tell me more, John Mackey; I look forward to hearing about this new relationship with farm animals that you so compassionately chop up in cellophane packages in the butcher’s case.

A propos of the recent spate of femivegan commentary on the blog — will Meat vs The Angry Feminist become the blaming juggernaut, or should I say, the Blamernaut, of 2008? — I give you this dude Gary L Francione, who in this post adroitly outlines the ever-creepier ideological alliance between funfeminism and “conscientious” carnivorosity.

Francione is an animal exploitation abolitionist who has published extensively on the subject. His position is that funfeminists (he calls them “postmodern feminists” but you know what we both mean: pole dancing empowerfulizes women, “sex work” is groovy because women freely choose it, femininity is a gas, etc) have much in common with PETA-esque animal welfarists; both ideological postures posit scenarios which favor the perpetuation of patriarchal oppression. It’s OK to go to strip clubs because strip clubs empowerfulize women. It’s OK to eat “free range” meat because the animals were “raised by local ranchers” or were slaughtered “humanely”. And of course inveterate blamers are no strangers to PETA’s obsession with human female sexploitation. But what say I shut up and allow Gary L. Francione himself to enlarge?

[...] [P]ostmodern feminists have created a brand of “happy” commodification for women just as the welfarists have created the phenomenon of “happy” meat and animal products. The postmodern feminists often conveniently ignore the fact that women involved in the sex industry are raped, beaten, and addicted to drugs just as the welfarists conveniently ignore that animal products–including those produced under the most “humane” circumstances–involve horrible animal suffering. And both groups ignore that the commodification of women and animals, irrespective of treatment, is inherently objectionable.

Both the postmodern feminist position and the new welfarist position are steeped in the ideology of the status quo. They both reinforce the default position of animals as property and women as things whose personhood is reduced to whatever body part(s) and body images we fetishize. They both just put little smiley faces on what is in essence a very reactionary message.

He also notes that the rhetoric of funfeminism/PETA, which dismisses any criticism of their respective goals as impeding “movement unity,” mimics the vapid sloganeering of the reactionary right. This disturbing comingling of wingnut tactics with so-called “progressive” groups doesn’t surprise Francione and it doesn’t surprise me. Whenever patriarchal ideals come under fire, it’s patriarchal rhetoric that shows up to defend it. Funfeminism and PETA are both antifeminist.

[Thanks to josiemysourceofmostfrustration for the link]

147 comments

3 pings

  1. Pinko Punko

    I thought PETA in their ideal world, wanted everyone to be vegetarians? I know there is a trend towards some sort of faux compromise on meat eating, but I didn’t realize PETA were pushing that rhetoric.

    My eating activity is on the wrong side of this one, so I’ll sit the rest of this one out.

  2. Twisty

    I only found this Francione dude today, Pinko, so I haven’t investigated the extent of PETA’s “situational” ethics as relates to endorsing a meaty lifestyle; my indictment of the organization as antifeminist stems from their historically repellent reliance on T&A to market their agenda. However, PETA does seem pretty free and easy with its “Proggy Awards” to meat-friendly organizations (see the John Mackey link above).

  3. Pinko Punko

    Yeah, I had spaced the “naked women for vegetarianism and no furs in fashion” shtick.

    I guess the heart of the argument is whether any sort of pragmatism or acceptance of a continuum instead of a meatno meat binary is reasonable. I certainly don’t accept that there should be a continuum in the rights of women as human beings. I recognize that there certainly are parallels in the way the debates proceed (the rights of women and the rights of animals). I think some would not accept an equivalence.

    I wouldn’t accept this for the rights of people, but is a gradualist approach reasonable on any level for animal rights?

    The other parallel here is the debate on ENDA. Some groups wanted a compromise for the sake of moving the bar a little bit and not a lot.

    The Whole Foods guy is a piece of work too. Obscenely libertarian in his political viewpoints.

    I’m just a joker here, so I don’t have any solution to anything.

  4. Theo

    The analogy is apt between the oppression of women and the oppression of animals. But the logic is less immediate than you would make it.

    Certainly, it is logically consistent to believe that women are deserving of all rights of humanhood, but that animals are not, just as it is logically consistent to believe that animals should not be abused and murdered for human consumption, but that doing so to male humans is OK. I bring this up not to disagree that the abuse of animals or women is wrong — morality depends on more than consistency — but to say that a priori the part of the Revolution focussed on women does not require that we treat non-human animals well.

    In order for me to eat meat, I must convince myself that killing murdering an animal is not sufficiently wrong as to preclude other benefits. But I have already convinced myself that the ultimate sin is not the death itself: I had to in order to accept the moral legitimacy of abortion.

  5. PhysioProf

    I said this in a thread below, but since you might not see it there: Twisty, your horse Stanley is beautiful.

  6. kiki

    Thanks for the links, I was especially amused by the “Courage in Commerce Winner”: Abercrombie & Fitch. Hehe, right.

  7. Twisty

    Theo:”But I have already convinced myself that the ultimate sin is not the death itself: I had to in order to accept the moral legitimacy of abortion.”

    Abortion = death? Ha, that’s a hot one.

  8. Perinteger

    I’m perplexed as to why PETA is awarding a book for aggrandizing “what really happens when A-list meets D-cup, when girl becomes goddess”.

    Seriously?

  9. kelly g.

    Flying S. Monster, I never in my wildest dreams though I’d see my favorite blamer approvingly quote my favorite animal rights theorist! The tears, I must go wipe them!

    Ironically, John Mackey is actually a vegan. Not even white dudes can escape the evil clutches of the patriarchy and free market capitalism.

  10. KMTBERRY

    So what are we Feminists going to feed our CATS? THey cannot digest anything BUT meat.

  11. Twisty

    Obviously, the only ethical thing to do is to turn loose a a dozen or so mice in your homes for the cats to kill per their evolved directive. This is not very nice for the mice, but at least they’ll have a fighting chance, and will escape in sufficient numbers to establish breeding populations in your walls, thus ensuring a continuous feline food supply. This way the human habit of feeding cats will no longer contribute to the meatyocracy. And the cats, of course, will finally get some exercise — why are house cats all so obese? — not to mention experiencing the thrill of the hunt. Then, once the current crop of house cats dies off, one does not replace them, unless one enjoys cleaning up mouse poop, or one lives on a prairie or savannah, where the both the cat and its food supply can live and breed au naturel.

    I remember reading somewhere that the domestic cat requires 1 square mile of personal territory to be fulfilled as a feline.

  12. josiemysourceofmostfrustration

    “I thought PETA in their ideal world, wanted everyone to be vegetarians? I know there is a trend towards some sort of faux compromise on meat eating, but I didn’t realize PETA were pushing that rhetoric.”

    PETA does. However, PETA pushes for “humane” advances in factory farming and animal exploitation practices and Francione and other animal rights abolitionists would say that these reforms are meaningless and counter productive. For example, PETA and other humane organizations act like it’s a victory when legislation is passed giving factory farm animals a little more room to move around in their cages or when “humane” slaughter laws are passed. Abolitionists would argue that these laws only serve to make people feel more comfortable exploiting animals, they don’t end the exploitation they just perpetuate it. And, since the laws are rarely enforced, they’re really worthless. Francione’s point is that if it’s wrong to abuse and exploit animals for our pleasure, then it’s wrong. We can’t make ourselves feel more comfortable about it by making the animals just a little more comfortable, and any “animal rights” organizations that celebrate those types of victories are ineffectual. He supports veganism and vegan education as a more meaningful goal.

    Anyway, that’s my take on Francione in a nutshell. His blog and his published books put it all a lot more eloquently than I can.

  13. The Reverend B. Dagger Lee

    Horse & girl pics, fuck yeah!

    Knobjectivism* & Ayn Rand harshing, fuck yeah!

    Radfemveganomics, fuck yeah!

    *A mastercoinage, Pinko Punko. Truly.

  14. Feminist Avatar

    I agree with the overall point that small steps in animal treatment do not solve the problem of animal exploitation, but I don’t think they shouldn’t be treated as forward steps.

    In a similar vein, the legalisation of abortion did not end the patriarchy, but feminists still celebrate it as a step in the right direction.

    Although to be fair, I wouldn’t be hostile to an argument that said that the legalisation of abortion made us feel better about female oppression and hence stopped more radical change.

    hmmm… food for thought.

  15. josiemysourceofmostfrustration

    I agree with Francione that if it’s wrong to oppress animals, then it’s wrong. Making the oppressed animal more comfortable by giving him or her more space to live in or a less gruesome slaughter is not a victory. An analogy would be that if prostitution is a form of oppression, then it’s just wrong. Paying prostitutes better or unionizing them doesn’t really advance their rights. It may make the people who oppress them feel better about themselves. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the women working as prostitutes are still being commodified and exploited. Just like humane slaughter and larger gestation crates for sows doesn’t change the fact that those animals shouldn’t be raised or slaughtered for food in the first place.

  16. laura

    I know that promoting more humane slaughtering practices doesn’t line up philosophically with thinking animals shouldn’t be slaughtered at all, but I feel that since we are less likely to end animal slaughter right now than we are to end the worst of the abuses at factory farms, it makes sense to promote ending the worst of the abuses. The total amount of suffering can be decreased more quickly in that way, right? I just feel like taking this hard philosophical line is not necessarily helpful to the animals in question.

    Ditto for prostitution and unionizing, etc. I mean I know in an ideal world prostitution wouldn’t exist, but isn’t it still a good idea to try to improve conditions for the prostitutes who do exist?

  17. TwissB

    Laura, Improving conditions for the prostitutes who do exist is being done today by a handful of organizations across the country, run by women who know prostitution from the ground up, that work to provide prostituted women with a way out of an inherently exploitive and abusive situation. The irony is that the childhood sexual abuse that very often sets a girl up for prostitution is promoted by the existence and normalization of prostitution anmd pornography.

    The whole picture, including unionization, is factually provided in Melissa Farley’s “Prostitution & Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections” (2007). Find it at http://www.prostitutionresearch.com, along with a lot of great articles.

  18. Elaine Vigneault

    I would chime in here, but I’ve already commented on this matter here:
    http://www.elainevigneault.com/naked-protests.html

    Also, regarding Melissa Farley:
    http://www.elainevigneault.com/validated.html

    Sigh. I’m glad you’ve gone veg, but there is a critical, significant difference between sex work and animal agriculture. That difference is that women can choose to participate in our economy. Animals cannot choose to participate in our economy.

    Admittedly, women’s choices are limited and they are often coerced into certain fields, but they DO have a choice. With animals, there is no gray area and there is no debate about choice. With women, there are TONS of gray areas and choice exists on a continuum with some women being forced and some women freely choosing to participate.

  19. Spinning Liz

    Wow, I can’t believe there hasn’t been a mass uprising yet over Twisty’s Cat Solution.

  20. Virginia Ray

    Twisty
    You must be magical – how you go right to the best.

    Gary Francione is one of the finest teachers in the animal rights movement. Some years ago, an animal abuser with the help of the legal system ruined my life. As I desperately went from group to group, I was sadly disillusioned as to their alliances and blaming the victim attitudes. We all know about PETA. But now that time has passed, I am thankful for every group that gets “its’ own kind” up the ladder. I just know that we veggies all have different values in the end.

    The person I admire most in the Animal Rights Movement is Gary Francione. Below is an excerpt from an interview with him. Read the whole thing here:

    http://www.theanimalspirit.com/garyfrancione.html

    “FoA: You are a law professor. What do you say to those who maintain that your views are specific to someone trained by the legal profession?

    Gary Francione: I have no illusions about the usefulness of the legal system. Veterinary malpractice cases, cruelty cases, and cases brought under the Animal Welfare Act are pretty much meaningless in terms of reducing suffering, and have absolutely no effect on the property status of animals.

    But they have created job security for lawyers. Anna Charlton, who has taught the animal rights law course with me at Rutgers University for over a decade, often points out that the legal system will never respond differently to animal issues unless and until there is a significant shift in prevailing social consensus about animal exploitation.

    For the most part, the law reflects social attitudes and does not form them. This is particularly true when the behavior in question is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric, as our exploitation of animals undoubtedly is.

    As long as most people think that it’s fine to eat animals, use them in experiments, or use them for entertainment purposes, the law is not likely to be a particularly useful tool to help animals. If, for example, Congress or a state legislature abolished factory farming, that would drive the cost of meat up and there would be a social revolt! ……..

  21. AC

    I can always depend on your blog to make me upset and angry about something! (That’s a good thing, it means I’m thinking and being challenged) Usually, it’s because you point out something that really fucking disturbs me, and it takes me a few days to calm down.

    This time it’s about animal rights. I get very, very angry about animal rights, and it’s because I grew up on a small farm, where we actually cared about the animals.

    This is what got me: “welfarists conveniently ignore that animal products–including those produced under the most “humane” circumstances–involve horrible animal suffering.”

    I would like to argue that the animals on my farm, and my neighbors, didn’t encounter horrible suffering. As an example of what I mean, let me tell you about our hens. None of our hens were ever de-beaked, or starved. We didn’t kill them at 1 or 4 years old; because we actually looked after the health of the hen, they were still “producing profitably” at 6, 7, even 8 years of age. They died of old age, and the occasional raccoon raid. Additionally, when I say our hens were raised free range, I mean that they were outside from dawn ’till dusk, roaming over 3 acres of land, eating bugs and chasing the cats. And they went into the shed at night under their own free will; we only had to herd them in when a storm was coming.

    Just so you know, there is an option between supporting factory farms and going vegan. Drive a little out of your way (or go to your local farmer’s market), find a nice small farm, check out how they raise their animals, and buy your eggs and milk from them (and meat, if you eat it). Too bad not every one has that option.

  22. Carpenter

    I certainly think the local meat movement has at least something to offer. Mega-slaughterhouses-like many mass production spaces- abuse every living thing in them, from the skinned alive cows to the people who cut them up.
    there are a a few levels of issues here

    Is factory farming OK?- I think everyone will say no.
    Is any farming OK? this depends if you think it is acceptable to limit animals excercize of whatever freedom of will they have.
    Is killng and eating animal any time OK-hunting? I think here one can at least make an argument that this is sometimes necessary.

  23. kiki

    Obviously, the only ethical thing to do is to turn loose a a dozen or so mice in your homes for the cats to kill per their evolved directive.

    Obviously, we shouldn’t keep animals captive in our homes for our own amusement. I bet you even saddle (and ride!)that poor horse, tsk.

    I live in a rural area and although people raise an slaughter their own animals, at least they’re aware of the process. I’m a life long vegetarian and off and on again vegan when I can afford to be and I’m often taken by the fact that people have no idea from whence their food comes. I was permanently scarred by the sight of a huge grain lot with thousands of cattle shoulder to shoulder on the edge of the Mojave desert where it was well over one hundred degrees. No shade, little water, absolutely no space.

    As for the acceptance of vegetarianism, just try raising a vegetarian (or worse vegan) child and the pediatricians will accuse you of child abuse.

  24. sevanetta

    Tangent, directed at josiemysourceofmostfrustration, laura and TwissB: I’ve been wanting to do a study/article/some kind of research on the exact points that you raise about sex work and sex workers. Thankyou so much for having that little side conversation here. Maybe the website TwissB mentions will show me that what I want to look into has already been done…

  25. josiemysourceofmostfrustration

    I amy not have stated my points as clearly as I would’ve like to in my previous post, so let me go on the record as saying that I do not oppose unionization of prostitution. I think that anything that prostitutes can do individually or collectively to make their lot better is fine by me. I don’t think that women who work as prostitutes should be punished or marginalized at all.

    However, I don’t think that it’s any feminist victory, by a long shot. Anything that perpetuates prostitution does not advance the cause of feminism. And, measures like unionization can be counterproductive because they make johns and the general public feel more comfortable with it and perpetuate the myth of the happy hooker. Just like “humane” farming perpetuates the myth of happy meat.

  26. yankeetransferred

    Great Twisty/Horse picture.

  27. North

    As I see it, the standard animal rights line is based on the idea that we should not confine and kill animals because, first, to constrain another creature’s life and instincts is wrong; and second, that killing is per se wrong.

    Which is fine, but I do actually think there’s a positive ethical argument for killing and eating animals – it just comes from an ecological perspective rather than a legal/rights perspective. On a small farm, animals and their manure cycle nutrients to keep the soil fertile; pastured chickens clear bugs out and produce eggs; and you can do all kinds of things to have animals doing what’s natural and healthy for them, and at the same time maintaining the farm as an ecosystem. You can’t really do that without animals.

    At the same time, big vegetable/grain farms like the ones where a lot of vegan protein is produced can be really devastating to the ecosystems around them and to individual animals, especially anything groundnesting that gets crushed by a plow. Plus, a big field of a single plant is very vulnerable to pests, so you need to use pesticides or intensive weeding; and vegetable farming is usually much more intensive as a land use than animal farming, so you end up with more erosion, etc.

    Any farm is an ecosystem: the question is whether the nutrients and assets (like soil) stay in the farm and get recycled or whether they get leached out. Humanely raised meat is a restoration of a basic kind of decency in our relationship with animals, but it doesn’t take care of the biggest ethical issue with it, since killing kind of seems wrong any way you slice it. But small farms, where the animals are an integral part of the sustainability of the farm, create living ecosystems that also sustain humans, rather than scorched earth that only sustains humans. I’d rather buy from Daryl and the Fishers and the Meadow Run farmers than from EdenSoy.

    There’s not really a ‘do no harm’ choice here, is all I’m saying. And choosing to eat meat can be an active ethical choice, rather than a compromise.

  28. mia

    I must say, it amuses me to no sad end to see some folks scramble to justify the perpetuation of patriarchy-approved slaughter & consumption of living beings.

    Further still amusement is derived from reading comments that attempt to postulate that it is indeed humankind’s burden to slaughter and consume living beings as a form of necessary bodily maintenance. Or that it is otherwise necessary, implying a lack of other foodstuffs.

    The extent to which patriarchy is internalized, even in these revered feminist spheres, is astounding. At what point is it acceptable for the oppressor to define the experience of oppression for the oppressed? Apparently it is dialogue relating to this issue, where the occasional individual is so dedicated to maintaining the party line of the right to exert patriarchal dominance that they will fabricate lines of argument that are truly incoherent from a radical feminist perspective. Meateaters, thou fellate the male appendage of the patriarchy.

  29. Feminist Avatar

    Actually, I think the point North is making is that being vegetarian or vegan does not nullify your impact on the earth. The whole point of the patriarchal system is that your choices are defined by it. There is no escape without revolution.

    I am also uncomfortable with an attitude that is so hostile towards other people’s choices. Your damned if you do and damned if you don’t under the patriarchal system and people should be allowed to make the best choices they can under their circumstances without being castigated as unfeminist.

  30. Lauredhel

    Meateaters, thou fellate the male appendage of the patriarchy.

    Who do you blame, mia?

  31. AC

    Having been raised on a small farm myself, I take issue with the statement that animals can’t be raised humanely. I think if anyone of you had come to my mother’s farm, you’d have seen how different conditions can be.

    Our chickens were raised free range, in the true sense of the word: we regularly chased them from the garden! They were out from sunrise to sunset- and they went into and out of the shed by themselves.

    I think, that when it comes to ‘ethical’ or ‘humane’ treatment of animals, you’re not going to see a difference between two big factory farms, but you will see a difference between a small, organic, doesn’t hire-anyone and a big ugly factory farm.

    Also, what North said is very true.

  32. AoT

    On a small farm, animals and their manure cycle nutrients to keep the soil fertile; pastured chickens clear bugs out and produce eggs; and you can do all kinds of things to have animals doing what’s natural and healthy for them, and at the same time maintaining the farm as an ecosystem. You can’t really do that without animals.

    At the same time, big vegetable/grain farms like the ones where a lot of vegan protein is produced can be really devastating to the ecosystems around them and to individual animals, especially anything groundnesting that gets crushed by a plow.

    There are two important points that need to be brought up here. First, where is there required killing in your story here. None of your fertilizing and clearing out bugs requires killing. Second, and more important, it takes farmed plats to raise animals for meat. It takes a lot more acres of farm land to raise a pound of animal protein than it does to make a pound of vegetable protein. You remind me of the person who told me she didn’t like soy because it promoted mono-culture in farming while eating a steak. Animals produced on a large enough scale to actually feed the number of people that we have in the U.S. and the world will always be more harmful to the environment than eating a similar amount of veggies.

  33. brainiac9

    TwissB, the Melissa Farley article you mentioned is fabulous. I was writing a paper on the topic recently, and it proved invaluable. I hadn’t heard of the website before, though – it’s going in my favorites.

  34. mia

    Lauredhel, I blame the patriarchy.

    This whole dialogue is a valuable tool in helping determine the depth and breadth of the dehumanizing aspects of patriarchy–kind of like pulling up a dandelion and following the root system.

    Sadly, I’m frequently surprised at how deep the cultural imperatives of dude nation go, and the extent to which people defend the status quo. But for that, without doubt, IBTP.

  35. North

    Feminist Avatar: “being vegetarian or vegan does not nullify your impact on the earth.”

    Exactly! There’s destruction either way because we have to eat. Either you kill animals directly to eat them, or the plows that clear the land crush songbirds and small animals, and you destroy a lot of habitat for all kinds of creatures. So you’re fucked any way you look at it if you’re trying to do no harm.

    Nutrient cycling is the way that minerals, nitrogen, etc get moved around in an ecosystem. Generally, on a small farm, animals eat plants (often grasses that humans don’t eat), digest them, and their manure – sometimes composted – returns nitrogen and other nutrients to the land.

    Any piece of land needs this. You can do it artificially, with fertilizer, or naturally, with animals, but maintaining your land as an functioning ecosystem rather than a machine has benefits for other species and the long-term health of the area’s ecology. And there’s no revolution that’s going to rid us of this need, because it’s based on non-human factors. Supporting that is a good thing, and eating meat/eggs/dairy is one way to do that, as long as the meat/eggs/dairy come from responsible farmers.

    Eating meat (the right meat) can be good for the planet. Not just a compromise, but a positive choice.

  36. AoT

    There’s destruction either way because we have to eat. Either you kill animals directly to eat them, or the plows that clear the land crush songbirds and small animals, and you destroy a lot of habitat for all kinds of creatures. So you’re fucked any way you look at it if you’re trying to do no harm.

    But there is less destruction when you don’t eat animals. It isn’t as if the animals come from nowhere, they have to be fed and have to live somewhere. To do those things requires resources, to do them on the scale required to produce meat for any major modern nation requires environmental degradation on a massive scale. The animals people eat are fed crops grown in exactly the same way as the vegetables they would otherwise eat; but, they people need less vegetable if they go straight to the veggie source.

  37. Virginia Ray

    hey North and FA

    Have you people ever heard the word organic?? It is a new concept (to you} but if you google it I am sure you will be surprised and enlightened.

  38. mia

    “Eating meat (the right meat) can be good for the planet. Not just a compromise, but a positive choice.”

    How about this: oppressing the powerless (the right ones) can be good for the patriarchy. Not just a compromise, but a positive choice. To me, it all sounds frighteningly similar to arguments that have been made to justify the oppression of African Americans in slavery, women, and Native Americans. And a similar argument to that which is currently made to justify the use of torture.

    And this: “Exactly! There’s destruction either way because we have to eat. Either you kill animals directly to eat them, or the plows that clear the land crush songbirds and small animals, and you destroy a lot of habitat for all kinds of creatures. So you’re fucked any way you look at it if you’re trying to do no harm.”

    North, what exactly are you arguing here? Because even if we do farm, and plow the land (crushing all those songbirds under the plow) eating vegetative food means we only have to farm about one seventh the land area. Which apparently, even by your logic, means only killing one-seventh the songbirds. This is because it takes about seven pounds of grain, give or take, to make one pound of animal flesh for consumption.

    Oh, and by the way–just so you know, “trying to do no harm” is a concept that generally does not include gratuitous killing.

  39. Jertzy

    I never quite understood the argument about how keeping farmed animals is bad for the environment, with all the land and resources set aside for them, all the methane they produce (cow farts will be the death of us all, apparently) as an argument for vegetarianism. Because what exactly would be done with all the animals if everyone stopped eating meat? Surely they’d still have to be looked after, which would obviously not solve the problem. And if they weren’t to be looked after, then would that mean they would have to be culled? Isn’t killing animals kind of the issue?
    I’m not trying to be difficult, it’s just that that particular argument has always baffled me.

  40. Feminist Avatar

    The point of my comment was to suggest that calling people with different opinions unfeminist is unhelpful and effectively silences discussion. This is a form of oppression.

    But if we are going to be silly about it: eating organic does not nullify your impact upon the earth; it might reduce it. But organic food still has to be transported hundreds of miles from farm to consumer. This burns fuel. It still has an impact on local wildlife. It also commonly uses animal manure as fertiliser, thus being reliant to some extent on animal farming. The other organic fertilisers it uses are often made through industrial processes that use fuel and produce waste. It is also highly labour intensive and therefore can exploit poor people. Driving or taking the bus to the shop to buy organic veg uses fuel. Cooking organic vegetables on a stove uses fuel. Using the internet to talk about or google organic food uses fuel.

    The point is that there are different ways you can try to reduce your impact on the earth, but there is no way you can have no impact at all. In that sense, it is just like the patriarchy.

  41. CunningAllusionment?

    [Both] groups ignore that the commodification of women and animals, irrespective of treatment, is inherently objectionable.

    This will probably be a poorly articulated and silly question, but is there anything that is okay to commodify? It seems to me that the process of commodification is inherently objectionable no matter what is being commodified.

  42. Virginia Ray

    FA

    You are silly about it.

  43. BadKitty

    Virginia Ray -
    No, YOU are being silly about it.

    FA is absolutely correct in that the vegies and grains you consume are mostly transported from hundreds or thousands of miles away on ….. huge corporate owned farms who exploit the living hell of the earth and the people who work them. All that tofu you eat comes from single-crop farms that exploit the hell out of the soil, kill all insects and wildlife that live in the area and pay the people who process those soybeans very, very little. The amount of fossil fuel used in the processing, packaging and transporting all that food over hundreds and thousands of miles is astonishing. I won’t even start to discuss how biodiversity is being eliminated and how that is impacting the health of our planet.

    I don’t think there is any way to eat without exploitation or harm. Period. Unless you happen to be fortunate enough to own some prime farm land and grow and harvest it all yourself.

    This is not a criticism of vegetarianism. It’s a criticism of people who feel all morally superior that THEY aren’t causing any harm on the planet while they sip their bottled water and eat the grapes picked in Chile. If you really want something interesting that will make your hair stand on end, follow the trail back from most of the vegetarian organic brands that you buy. The vast majority are owned by….. huge corporations and conglomerates.

    All of our hands are bloody. Some of us are just less morally superior about where the blood comes from.

  44. BadKitty

    Twisty -
    I humbly beg your forgiveness for my use of ellipses. I forgot myself in the heat of my rant. I won’t do it again. I promise.

  45. BadKitty

    A few more notes for VR before I pack it in for the night.

    #1 – Over on Twisty’s first post on the subject, I posted the following: Your source in the links you provided is Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has donated more than $1.3m to PCRM. PETA is based in Norfolk, Va., and PCRM in Washington, D.C. There is a third organization called Foundation to Support Animal Protection housed out of the same address as PETA. This organization’s board consists in part of PCRM founder and president Neal Barnard and PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. The IRS form 990s filed for FSAP confirm that from 1999 through 2000 PCRM was a supported organization. Since 2000, FSAP has declined to itemize its supported organizations.

    The ties between PCRM, PETA, and FSAP have been criticized by the American Council on Science and Health and The American Physiological Society.

    #2 – Perhaps you should a little more about soy before you start eating it 3 times a day. Here’s one place to start:

    http://www.utne.com/2007-07-01/TheDarkSideofSoy.aspx

    #3 – Perhaps you should do a little more homework about being a vegan and the politics and science of food before you start the lecture circuit.

  46. North

    There are two important points that need to be brought up here. First, where is there required killing in your story here. None of your fertilizing and clearing out bugs requires killing. Second, and more important, it takes farmed plants to raise animals for meat.

    OK. So I don’t want to be having a crazy blogwar here. I just think a lot of people don’t think through the ecological (not legal/rights) implications of what they eat. My partner works in the organic/local food movement, as do my parents, and I have done a certain amount of academic study of all this. AoT, I think you are wrong on both points above.

    1. Clearing and plowing land kills creatures. It just does. You plow under the nests of ground-nesting birds, crush tunnels and burrows for ground-dwelling animals, and eliminate forest and grassland habitat for wild animals, which then die. Here’s an article about an endangered falcon species losing habitat to plowed land. Here’s another about genetically modified crops (which I’m not advocating for) that includes numbers about land (and habitat) cleared for crops and the damage done by plant agriculture to various species. Plowing land gets rid of wildflowers and the wild animals they support, gets rid of forest, leading to erosion, and is not a neutral choice.

    2. It does not take farmed plants to raise animals for meat. Cattle and bison can graze on land that is not suitable for grain or vegetable farming because it lacks water or soil fertility. Pastured chickens can help prevent pests in organic farms by eating grubs that are not a usable human food. It goes on and on. Pastured animals at responsibly run, ecologically careful farms are net contributors to the health of the farm’s ecosystem. Polyface Farm, run by a really awesome, really conservative, really creative guy, has managed to improve the ecosystem on his land using several decades of animal husbandry.

    Eating vegetative food means we only have to farm about one seventh the land area.

    Mia, this would be accurate if all land had the same quality, but there’s a lot of land that can easily be used for animals that just won’t last under vegetable production, which is much more intensive. In other words, vegetable production there isn’t sustainable; in fact, for a vegetable/grain farm to be sustainable – to not need massive external inputs made from petroleum – you need manure to maintain soil fertility. (We could use human manure, but that’s not as effective ecologically because of the ways you can use animal behavior to keep an ecological balance on the land; also human manure is a lower quality input.)

    You might also be interested in this study, which argues that a low-meat diet (exactly what I’m arguing for) is most efficient in terms of land use.

    How about this: oppressing the powerless (the right ones) can be good for the patriarchy. Not just a compromise, but a positive choice. To me, it all sounds frighteningly similar to arguments that have been made to justify the oppression of African Americans in slavery, women, and Native Americans. And a similar argument to that which is currently made to justify the use of torture.

    I don’t really know what to say to this, other than that it’s a patently disingenuous argument aimed at making me feel bad about myself. As human beings, we can substantially rework our social arrangements. There are no laws of physics in the way of that. But we can’t rework ecology – we can only choose how we cooperate with it or fight it. If we want to eat, the nutrients that support our food have to come from somewhere, and so far the only two options we have are animals and petroleum.

    I want to be extremely clear that I am not justifying or defending factory farming, which is torture and brutality to animals. I was a vegetarian for many years, and have started eating meat in large part to support farmers I know who are treating their animals with kindness and respect and for whom the pastured animals they raise are a crucial part of keeping their farm’s ecosystem healthy. I don’t see any value in comparing such people to genocidaires and torturers, nor in arguing that it is somehow anti-feminist to support them. I fully respect people who are vegetarian or vegan so as not to participate in the active killing of animals. I think it’s important to acknowledge that that choice has many consequences, only one of which is the stated goal, and that it is not the only dietary decision that can be made in good faith.

  47. North

    also, BadKitty, word.

  48. Hattie

    To me, meat eating and anti-feminism are two different issues being conflated.
    What I note is that women worldwide are underfed in spite of all the nonsense we hear about obesity. Women in the U.S. are becoming shorter and fatter because they get into food deprivation in order to conform to notions of smallness and thinness as being feminine ideals. As soon as young girls plump up because they are about to put on a growth spurt, they cut back on food. As adults, being short, they can’t eat much without getting fat, and they are perpetually on diets or on funny dietary regimes, having lost all sense of appetite and the enjoyment of food.
    Visiting a college the other day I could not get over how much shorter girls are today than they used to be. And not because they are Mexican or Asian; the white girls are way shorter too.
    Women need enough to eat as children and as adults because they need to lead full, energetic lives. To me that’s a way more important issue than whether or not they eat meat.

  49. kate

    Virginia: “hey North and FA

    Have you people ever heard the word organic?? It is a new concept (to you} but if you google it I am sure you will be surprised and enlightened.”

    Possibly Virginia you should do some googling yourself about farming practices, small scale, organic and large-scale corporate. What North describes is a small scale family or community farming operation, which would probably only feed a family or two.

    ALthough North didn’t elaborate, his/her description pretty much emphasizes the natural processes of nitrogen enrichment, nutrient breakdown and bio-diversity that is typical on a well managed organic farm. That is of course, organic in the ideal sense, a sense that only remains a reality among those fortunate enough to have their own land and the funds to obtain the equipment, stock and of course the knowledge and time to operate such.

    Our capitalist system has destroyed such operations and made them nearly impossible to exist. Organic or not, food production whether for plant matter or animal flesh, is an entirely subsidized, corporatized and globalized operation that has nothing to do with picturesque images of a draft horse and driver working a long furrow under the orange sun.

    Frankly, I don’t have the economic ability to do my regular shopping at Whole Foods or any other outlet that inspires self righteous indulgence by pocketbook. Instead I hound through the reduced vegetable racks of all the local stores, the reduced bakery and even the reduced meats. I’ll save a buck by buying a chicken and making three meals out of it, or stewing oxtails like the old folks did. I don’t eat steak regularly, in fact, there was a time not long ago when I didn’t eat regularly at all.

    Might I also add that the natural foods marketeering around questionable medical claims makes me just a bit recalcitrant to consider them organizations free from their own sort of exploitation.

    Also, the claims about how much land is required to produce so much meat made here have no validity as the requirements change with the type of animals raised, what they are fed, their time of slaughter, breeding, etc.

    In addition, I am loathe to consider animals on a level of importance equal to humans.

  50. Carpenter

    I suppose again, it isn’t just mega corporate farms that perpetuate terrible practices. I invite anyone to drive through the central valley here in northern California and on many a smallish organic farm you will find men women and children bent at the waist all day picking their way across entire fields in that very position no matter how hot it is. Your spinach should induce almost as much guilt as your burger really, unless you know every single thing about where it comes from. At least in these cases you wont find a field being sprayed with pesticide at the same time people are picking the field next door(which you can see on any day of the year) but the conditions are still deplorable.

    What do you do? Buy only from happy hippy communes that dot the land up here and sell food for a price no lower-class budget can sustain and insure migrant workers never make a buck at all?

    I think the ethical argument about meat eating has to be entirely focused on weather it is OK to eat a living thing that has some degree of free will and can reason(to some extent) and that has emotions. If the argument is simply about corporate practice we all better start photosynthesizing because meat or no meat, simply by eating anything you either support a corrupt system or put tons of people out of work and raise the price of food.

    Large scale boycotts can make you feel good about yourself but probably wont do a damn thing to change the system; most people cant afford them and many people rely on meat as a cheap and easy source of nutrients. During the depression calories in lard probably saved my grand parents lives because they were almost literally starving. Only by directly lobbying businesses for better labor practices, while keeping prices controllable is likely to help.

  51. Langsuyar

    *yawn* Oh look, some people don’t want to give up their privileges and thus argue in any available fashion to justify and preserve them. How thoroughly surprising. I have never seen this sort of thing around -here- before. Its like listening to antifeminists. Whatever made y’all see the light about feminism, it’ll take something similar about the ways of veg (or class privilege or what have you). Good luck with that.

  52. North

    I wrote something, but it’s lost in the spamulator. So sad.

  53. tinfoil hattie

    Dang. Does this mean no more Morsel Institute posts about foie gras & hamburgers?

  54. tinfoil hattie

    Oh. I just scrolled down to “Bacon, I Bid You Farewell.”

    End of an era.

  55. BadKitty

    Langsuyer – I think any of us who can pick and choose and refuse food based on moral principles is pretty damn privileged. This is one of most classist and ethnocentric threads I’ve ever read on Twisty’s blog.

  56. bluish

    Ok, I lurv this blog. I struggle with ethical food choices and my own personal hedonism, and I confess to being a meat-eater. I appeal to the people here because I am in a swayable moment, and some good arguments are made on both sides, so what do you blamers think:

    Does ecology equal morality?

    Like many, I have had some pretty negative interactions with animal activism and I am trying not to paint all vegans with the same brush. People claiming to “speak for the voiceless” squick me out, and I find a lot of similar personality traits between many in the anti-abortion camp and some animal-activists. A fetus is not a person, and neither is a chicken. Arguments that are based on “well, how would you feel if YOU were in a cage” don’t make much sense to me. Tell me about what’s really going on with the chicken, and not what you imagine it might be like to be a chicken. Twisty, this is where I have to ask about the cat scenario. Should we let all domesticated animals fade away, so as not to impose upon them? In a vegetarian world, the domestic cow must cease to exist. And that might be OK.

    Or is this all just a shallow justification for my own hedonistic desires?

  57. goblinbee

    BadKitty: “Langsuyer – I think any of us who can pick and choose and refuse food based on moral principles is pretty damn privileged. This is one of most classist and ethnocentric threads I’ve ever read on Twisty’s blog.”

    I’m not seeing this at all. Rice and beans are cheap, cheap, cheap. I started eating beans back when I was on W.I.C. and living below the poverty level. A pound of beans a month came free with the program, so I thought I should learn to use ‘em. We had very little dough, but we ate well. VERY well.

  58. BadKitty

    goblinbee – Who harvested the rice? Who picked and dried and processed the beans? How did the food arrive at the shelter?

    The point some of us are trying to make is that for the vast majority of us, the very act of eating is oppressive. Our question is, who do we choose to oppress? The animals? The migrant workers in the fields? The people working in the food processing plants?

    The cheap and abundant food most of us find at our local co-op or grocery store is costing us dearly in the form of soil destruction, pesticide and herbicide usage, the use of fossil fuels to transport it, and the exploitation of cheap labor. We have 89 cent mangos in our stores because workers in South America are working for pitiful wages.

    As I said above, all of our hands are bloody. It’s a more complicated issue than simply swearing off meat.

  59. Suzz

    Eating, in the society that we live in, which is already privileged, is difficult to do without any oppression from behind the food. I got it. But whereas plant-based food may exploit workers and the natural environment, animal based food exploits workers, the natural environment due to all of the feed that has to be grown and the waste that is produced, as well as the animals who are consciously enslaved and killed for the food and the consumers, who are rarely getting as high quality food as they believe they are (because corn- and soy-fed meat, which is the most common in the country, is actually significantly lower in nutrients – omegas, heme iron – than “naturally” grain-fed animals who eat what their biology digests best). It seems to me that the better choice is obvious.

    And do you think all the cheap beef in the grocery store comes from close by, at the local ranch? Hell no. We consume and export American beef. American industry also imports huge amounts of cheaper Argentinian beef. And a lot of foreign-made food gets into the market, allowing chicken “producers” China and Thailand, two of the strongest chicken-exporting nations, to ship their tinned and frozen chicken bits to the US.

    And if you wanna talk pollution, take a look at how Carolina hog farming is literally destroying river ecosystems. The overwhelming amount of ammonia – from the overwhelming amount of pig urine, from the overwhelming amount of pigs – is impossible to manage in a cost-effective and non-environmentally-detrimental way when there are tens of thousands of pigs being raised on one confined “farm.” And waterways are great for transporting the pollution introduced to them all over to other ecosystems in their path. Neat!

    And then if you say that people should just buy responsible meat, you’re back to being “classist,” because it costs more – it costs what meat should cost.

    And any time we talk about truly cheap food, I agree – think it’s relevant to note that nothing ever costs less than it seems it should. Eggs – a cheap source of omegas, protein, and other vitamins and minerals? They are only cheap if they were produced by de-beaked, caged, psychologically fucked chickens that are kept in “layer houses,” the extreme conditions of which far surpass concentration camp bunkers. And things aren’t so great for the people who have to feed them, gather the eggs, and clean up, either. Consider then the hundreds of acres of corn and soy cultivated to feed the chickens (and how much of it ended up in the form of chicken shit dropping down onto neighboring chickens in cages below) and the pesticides used – this is many times more acres of cultivated vegetation than would be needed to feed the same people with vegetables, grains, beans. And don’t be under the illusion that farm animal feed is processed in a justifiable way. Machines, helping us get a leg up on erosion, may be used for much of the process, but because no one wants to pay a lot of money for the food that goes into the chickens, cheap cheap cheap labor and materials are used in the mills, the processing plants, and the shipment.

    I’d take the vegetation production over the soy and corn and then chicken production any day.

    I think things are different when we are talking about societies where people might need to hunt for their food or where certain nutrients found in animal food are not reasonably accessible elsewhere, but I don’t think most critique of animal use and consumption is aimed at societies and situations where this is the case. If that makes this thread ethnocentric, then my, my, I’m never critiquing anything again!

    The whole situation of eating may not be simple, but that’s not a sufficient argument for eating meat.

  60. North

    Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food, compared to more like 15% in Europe. Despite higher costs here for other things, for many people – not everyone, and I trust that all of you know more about your own financial and health situations than I do – there’s room to spend more on food as a percentage of their income.

    Yes, if your choices are mass-produced vegetables/grain or mass-produced meat, mass-produced vegetables/grains are less objectionable. But those are not the only two choices. They just aren’t. And once you get into small local mostly-organic farms, the cost-benefit shifts radically.

    As a point of information, my partner, who manages a local-food retailer, cannot find farmers to grow dried beans because it is too much work for them and too hard on their land. As a further point of information, I cannot think of a single practical downside for pastured eggs, which cost $3.25/dozen at her establishment. The chickens are happy, they get to indulge their basic chicken-ness and run around in the grass, and they help maintain ecological balance at the farm. A solid chunk of responsibly raised, cruelty-free protein for me (2 eggs) thus costs 54 cents. This is not meant to be a “why doesn’t everyone eat like I do?” argument. People have a lot of different reasons for what they do, and as BadKitty said, we all have blood on our hands. There are a lot of ways to make a thoughtful, good faith decision about what you eat, and some of them involve eating meat.

  61. crystalee

    I think it must take an incredible amount of intellectual dishonesty to be anti-meat — anti-meat to the point that you’d be willing to call into question the sincerity of the feminist values of your fellow blamers — while continuing to participate in the domestication of animals.

    I agree with what’s been said here in that it’s clearly impossible to erase completely one’s culpability in the suffering of animals, but I would think that a good place to start would be: not locking them in you’re house when they’re clearly meant to be left outside, not ripping off their claws, not putting a collar around their necks to shock them if they get to close to an imaginary fence, not nailing “shoes” to their feet, not sitting on their backs while forcing them to run around your yard, etc.

    In my estimation that people who have “pets” clearly don’t respect animal life any more than meat-eaters. It’s just easier and more obvious to say “killing animals is wrong” than it is to say “perhaps locking them in my home and surgically removing their reproductive abilities is wrong, too.” It takes quite a bit of effort to remove all meat and animal-derivatives from one’s diet. But in order to capture and enslave animals for your own amusement you have to go out of your way. One’s a “sin” (though I necessarily have religiously loaded language) of omission and one’s a sin of commission.

    Domestication removes an essential animal component from the animal. People with pets don’t love animals; they love pets. They love furry things that run around their homes or gallop around in their yards. Animals who behave as animals should behave are the worst kinds of pets. And people who have pets need — by necessity — to remove at least a component of their pets’ animal instinct and nature.

    I find it hilarious — in a completely eye-widening way — that a post about the hypocrisy of feminist meat-eaters opens with a photo of a bridled horse!

  62. Otown

    *Wipes tear from eye* Ah, dear. So good to see you back Twisty.

  63. Suzz

    Ah, basic chicken-ness. You read Michael Pollan?

    Although the eggs of which you speak (the ones that are, by their very nature, in limited supply) appear to be free of serious injustices against said chickens, the chickens are still being commodified, which is where one of the main arguments against animal food comes from. These chickens become something that can be bought or sold. Seeing animals in that kind of way is what leads to the commodification not only of what they produce, but of their personal bodies and lives. That is not unlike what happens with women stuck in the grinding cogs of patriarchy – female labor (both the labor of birth and the labors of domesticity) was something that became quite commodified, and the attitudes that licensed that kind of thought also licensed later traditions of rape and kidnapping and spousal abuse. Another appropriate example would be that of the American enslavement of all ilk of indigenous people. Heck, slavery world-wide tends upon the same kind of commodification-domination line. And I don’t think that commodification-domination of another aware, sentient animal is a very thoughtful, good faith decision.

  64. Carpenter

    I’m not saying why are you worried about cows while something worse is going on with soy(like why are you wasting your time about lipstick when women face worse things), but rather that cows and soy are not produced differently but part of a single system. They may be produced sustainably or unsustainably, they may involve the same amount of human labor exploitation and environmental impact.
    If you wanna argue that responsible meat isn’t the aim of true revolution but is merely reformism, that might be true. But it is also true that all farming of anything is some form of it as well, farming is labor intensive and energy expensive and requires fertilizers which are gonna come from decomposing materials or animal shit and animal shit. Farming uses up tons of space and requires vast quanities of water be pumped places.
    This is the price we pay for wanting to live in one place all of our lives, and since we are stuck with it, we need to do a better job of it. A huge amount of lobbying needs to be done to produced food -animal and vegetable-can be farmed with less bad impact while remaining affordable by most of the population. Small farming is great, and when I buy meat it is from such places, I am glad there is an alternative that I consider better than big agro. However I don’t think it is currently possible to eat guilt free, or that large scale conversion to green farming is something individual buying practices alone can accomplish for reasons I have already stated.

  65. Virginia Ray

    I too, yawn – I am sure that because we cannot be perfect we should be depraved — that is your argument in a nutshell.

    No one is being morally superior – especially since we did not wake up one morning vegans – it took time. You say we feel superior but the truth is we feel happy. Happy we are able to not contribute in our own way to the evil all around us. I buy at farmers markets from local farmers during the summer, grow my own vegetables and in the winter buy at the organic section of the local supermarket. Those organic sections have become huge because of vegetarians. I AM PROUD OF THAT.

    Instead of whining about how it is all bad and nothing is worth doing we support sustainable farming and pressured supermarkets to do the same. Others are working to stop argri business from exploiting workers. animals and the land mainly by our economic clout. Is anything even near perfect? Of course not. That is not the point of my choices. I just want to do the best I can.

    I am just saying it is ethical to walk as far away from animal cruelty and toxic food production as you can get. It does have an impact – it is a good thing. I have cut down on the cost of eating when I gave up eating meat and dairy. Your use of the PC word “class” is inappropreate in the context which you use it.. We discussed the class issues in the previous thread. School lunch programs, etc require institutional change.

    I am comfortable with my choices and everyday I get better. I am able to accept something that I could not do before. It is one of the few areas in my life that pleases me. I live with my cats and have to feed them meat, have to buy my mother meat but at least I am not consuming animals. You do the best you can. It is an evolution everyday. No one said we vegans are pure or totally clean — that is your argument and I think it is silly and worse. It ridicules the good that people can do.

  66. BadKitty

    Now THAT post is a wonderful display of privilege. Thank you, Virginia Ray, for so beautifully illustrating my point.

    {applauds}

  67. kate

    Badkitty: “Langsuyer – I think any of us who can pick and choose and refuse food based on moral principles is pretty damn privileged. This is one of most classist and ethnocentric threads I’ve ever read on Twisty’s blog.”

    Hear hear!

    Virginia Ray: “Others are working to stop argri business from exploiting workers. animals and the land mainly by our economic clout.”

    Wow, about time someone just finally came out and said it, there’s no need for action by people like me. I’ll just get out of the way so the people with economic clout can do their good works. I just wish to fuck someone would use that to solve the human problems, not just the carrots and the Banty hens.

  68. smally

    Being able to pick and choose what we eat based on moral principles is the result of privilege, therefore what?
    We shouldn’t pick and choose?

  69. Lara

    I agree with Kate and Badkitty. I have worked for nearly three years with children from poor and working class families, run often by mothers who can barely make ends meet and sometimes cannot even feed their kids as much as is needed. These women cannot even support themselves and their kids nutritionally because healthy food, just fricking produce at a regular old grocery store, is WAY too expensive for these women to afford. The kids end up always eating processed crap and fast food because their parents simply do not have the time, money, or resources to even FATHOM to refuse to eat meat, or to buy organic, or what have you.
    To expect everyone to do the same as you, VR, and then turn around and accuse them of not trying hard enough, is really ridiculous and really classist.
    I think the best solution is for the prices to go a lot lower (and the accessibility to increase) on fresh produce and organic foods if we ever want to help those of working-class backgrounds eat more ethically. They can barely have ENOUGH to eat let alone eat ethically.
    Gender, race, and class ALWAYS intersect in every single damned situation, and we cannot deny that.
    The problem is that whenever prices for products go lower, you can bet that some workers in the fields are getting even more exploited and dehumanized. It’s a vicious fucking cycle because the capitalist white supremacist patriarchy is a system and it controlls everything.
    What are we to do?

  70. Virginia Ray

    Laura

    I am one of those people – that is the big laugh.

    It was the same at the beginning of women’s liberation — You people come in and “work with us” and don’t ever respect us or our politics. I was a feminist organizer for 30 years and am poor because of it. I am on food stamps right now. I have made significant social change – for poor women. Started the second battered women’s shelter in the U.S. – won institutional change for rape victims and always worked sh-t jobs so I could do it. I guess you could say most of my life I was half in half out of the working class. About 1/3 of the time I was a professional because I was admitted to the professional world based on my community work. Now I am poor again.

    BECAUSE of that community organizing work and because of my hard life, I made the link between cruelty to animals and all other types of violence including class violence.

    It is pathetic I have to defend my ideas in this way. Who are you to make such judgements about me? Really, look in the mirror.

    BTW, there is a new program for food stamp people by the USDA wherein you can get an extra 60.00 in stamps to buy vegetables at the farmers markets as long as the farmers are locally based. Spread the word. Other women here talked about being on WIN. Try to listen to poor women instead of talking about us to make your arguments.

  71. North

    Lara, prices paid to farmers can’t reasonably go lower on organic, if you want it to remain sustainable (i.e. not turn into Earthbound Farms, a gigantic, highly erosive, totally unsustainable corporation that has literally acres of baby greens). I think two huge structural changes are called for:

    1. Shift subsidies from petroleum and big commodity farmers to small family farmers. The only reason processed food is so cheap is that the government has been subsidizing production since the 1970s by guaranteeing a minimum price; before that, excess crops were bought up and stored in case of shortages. Our policy rewards producing as much of a commodity crop as possible, and farmers often have to maximize production in order to keep their farms. Other countries (especially in Europe) subsidize small farmers to maintain pleasant countryside, traditional food, and ecological health. No reason we can’t do the same. Shifting subsidies means the same money goes to farmers, but less money is paid by individuals – so it’s sustainable and accessible.

    2. A more equitable distribution of wealth so there’s less poverty and more people have more choices.

  72. BadKitty

    It was the same at the beginning of women’s liberation

    Wow, you’re really active for a woman who is 160 years old.

    Also, North, word.

  73. Suzz

    It’s interesting that so many people here think that just because an individual is vegan she is saying that everyone else has to be vegan rightnow. It’s kind of like saying, “I am an educated radical feminist, and everyone else should immediately become an educated radical feminist.” Although that sounds all nice and cheery, it’s completely unrealistic. Not everyone has access to education; plus learning about radical feminism – let alone core principles of feminism, and breaking out of roles of patriarachal complicity – can take years! The same thing goes for vegans. I think we all know that not everyone is in a position to make an immediate switch – their minds might not be in the right place for it (and their wallets may be holding too much sway over them, as may be mainstream ideas of what it means to be in pursuit of a “successful” life). But we sure as hell are going to lobby for it and share our knowledge, just like we want to lobby for a feminist knowledge and attitude among the people. All this about us being “higher than thou” and expecting people who are supposedly less privileged than us to immediately become radical feminist vegans is ridiculous. It’s a process.

    And although it’s not irrelevant that some of the women who are vegan may or may not be privileged to some degree, I think it is safe to say that everyone involved in this discussion is quite privileged. Think about it – we are all individuals who have the time to read a radical feminist blog, a computer and internet access to get to it, and the education and brains (a privilege, mind you) to understand and discuss it. If that means that we have no right to espouse vegan diets, then it also means we have no right to suggest books to read (because on privileged people with time on their hands can afford to read books) and we shouldn’t criticize people in any position who do things to support the patriarchy. But that? That’s not something I can agree with.

  74. Virginia Ray

    Yes we have to stop subsidizing agri-business but local slaughterhouses will never get my vote. To make money from cattle you need to enlarge the herds and kill the babies – separate the mother from the child. There is no ideal life for animals raised to support their owners. The farmer’s child is taught to distance them self from compassion and empathy.

    I would like to see organic fruits and vegetables subsidized – green houses built in the colder climates not just for the weather but to protect organics from genetically modified seed drift. I would like to see the government subsidize community gardens and greenhouses with security in urban centers. I would like to see govt subsidies for supermarkets with security in poor neighborhoods stocked with whole foods products.

    We need nutritional education that is not funded by the meat and dairy industry (who write the curriculum for most nutrition programs, college and high school). I want to see the WIN/WICK programs expanded as they teach both nutrition and cooking to uneducated women and provide healthy food. I want the program expanded to include singe women. I want all benefits untied to reproduction so that poor women do not have to produce children in order to get assistance in this country. Because the production of children makes it harder to rise out of poverty so birth control and planned parent clinics are a part of the solution. But for women who do have children we need expanded Head Start programs that teach nutrition and not the kind of nutrition funded by the meat and dairy industry but the kind the Hollywood types get from their expensive trainers.

    Most of all we need the school lunch programs to stop being a dumping ground for the subsidized products of agri-business and to start being an education in healthy life sustaining and energy producing eating. There is a whole foods woman doing this now I forget her name and it is in several high schools in this state. We need those football fields plowed so children can plant and grow the produce they eat in their cafeteria instead of playing silly games to seed the gambling industry.

    So much is needed and can be delivered even right now.

    But manifestation of what is needed means not using race, class and “privilege” to attack one another but instead turning our attention to producing what people actually need to live in harmony with this earth and the other species on it. This always starts with the self. Reduce cruelty and oppression in your own life while reaching out to others to reduce it in the world.

    Twisty has done that. That is where we all started. This blog is one individual’s manifestation. See how powerful it has been.

  75. North

    This is a comment I wrote earlier that got stuck in moderation, I think because of all the links:

    There are two important points that need to be brought up here. First, where is there required killing in your story here. None of your fertilizing and clearing out bugs requires killing. Second, and more important, it takes farmed plants to raise animals for meat.

    OK. So I don’t want to be having a crazy blogwar here. I just think a lot of people don’t think through the ecological (not legal/rights) implications of what they eat. My partner works in the organic/local food movement, as do my parents, and I have done a certain amount of academic study of all this. AoT, I think you are wrong on both points above.

    1. Clearing and plowing land kills creatures. It just does. You plow under the nests of ground-nesting birds, crush tunnels and burrows for ground-dwelling animals, and eliminate forest and grassland habitat for wild animals, which then die. Here’s an article about an endangered falcon species losing habitat to plowed land. Here’s another about genetically modified crops (which I’m not advocating for) that includes numbers about land (and habitat) cleared for crops and the damage done by plant agriculture to various species. Plowing land gets rid of wildflowers and the wild animals they support, gets rid of forest, leading to erosion, and is not a neutral choice.

    2. It does not take farmed plants to raise animals for meat. Cattle and bison can graze on land that is not suitable for grain or vegetable farming because it lacks water or soil fertility. Pastured chickens can help prevent pests in organic farms by eating grubs that are not a usable human food. It goes on and on. Pastured animals at responsibly run, ecologically careful farms are net contributors to the health of the farm’s ecosystem. Polyface Farm, run by a really awesome, really conservative, really creative guy, has managed to improve the ecosystem on his land using several decades of animal husbandry.

    Eating vegetative food means we only have to farm about one seventh the land area.

    Mia, this would be accurate if all land had the same quality, but there’s a lot of land that can easily be used for animals that just won’t last under vegetable production, which is much more intensive. In other words, vegetable production there isn’t sustainable; in fact, for a vegetable/grain farm to be sustainable – to not need massive external inputs made from petroleum – you need manure to maintain soil fertility. (We could use human manure, but that’s not as effective ecologically because of the ways you can use animal behavior to keep an ecological balance on the land; also human manure is a lower quality input.)

    You might also be interested in a recent study from Cornell, which argues that a low-meat diet (exactly what I’m arguing for) is most efficient in terms of land use.

    How about this: oppressing the powerless (the right ones) can be good for the patriarchy. Not just a compromise, but a positive choice. To me, it all sounds frighteningly similar to arguments that have been made to justify the oppression of African Americans in slavery, women, and Native Americans. And a similar argument to that which is currently made to justify the use of torture.

    I don’t really know what to say to this, other than that it’s a patently disingenuous argument aimed at making me feel bad about myself. As human beings, we can substantially rework our social arrangements. There are no laws of physics in the way of that. But we can’t rework ecology – we can only choose how we cooperate with it or fight it. If we want to eat, the nutrients that support our food have to come from somewhere, and so far the only two options we have are animals and petroleum.

    I want to be extremely clear that I am not justifying or defending factory farming, which is torture and brutality to animals. I was a vegetarian for many years, and have started eating meat in large part to support farmers I know who are treating their animals with kindness and respect and for whom the pastured animals they raise are a crucial part of keeping their farm’s ecosystem healthy. I don’t see any value in comparing such people to genocidaires and torturers, nor in arguing that it is somehow anti-feminist to support them. I fully respect people who are vegetarian or vegan so as not to participate in the active killing of animals. I think it’s important to acknowledge that that choice has many consequences, only one of which is the stated goal, and that it is not the only dietary decision that can be made in good faith.

  76. Lara

    Hi VR
    That’s awesome that you did all of that activist work, and it’s great that you devoted so much to helping other women out, but don’t ever take your experiences and make it look like any other poor woman who hasn’t done what you have done is not trying hard enough (if that’s what you meant).
    You complained that I am making judgements about you, then you go off about how I don’t “listen to poor women.” Is that not a judgement itself too? I worked with these mothers every day for three years, I am not making some sort of cold scientific “observation” about them. I am only telling you what I have heard, from what the children and moms tell me, from what foods they talked about eating, or had access to. How does that constitute “not listening to poor women”?
    What’s wrong with making some sort of judgement based off of what someone writes or says to you? Everyone makes judgements, there’s no way to avoid that. If anything, one has to make judgements based off of someone’s beliefs. And telling someone to “look in the mirror” is just really patronizing and I’ve heard it way too many times.
    There are no farmer’s markets I know of that are even remotely close the area where I used to work (where these women live). How about we work on spreading knowlege about these farmer’s market food stamps you’re talking about? Hell, I never even knew about them, and a lot of the poor moms I worked with everyday didn’t know about them either.
    And why do people keep adding a “u” in my name? It’s always the people that want to argue with me and always misjudge me that add a “u” in my name. It’s weird.

    “It was the same at the beginning of women’s liberation — You people come in and “work with us” and don’t ever respect us or our politics.”

    Who is “you people” and who is “us”? Who are you even talking about? Are you implying that feminists intruded on the lives of “real women” of all classes, races, etc? and never respected them??? Makes no sense, honestly.

  77. smmo

    was a vegetarian for many years, and have started eating meat in large part to support farmers I know who are treating their animals with kindness and respect and for whom the pastured animals they raise are a crucial part of keeping their farm’s ecosystem healthy.

    Wow. We’ve had The Many Sins of PETA Argument, the Your Soy Beans Are Oppressive Too Argument, the Protein Argument, the Mysterious Enzymes Argument and naturally the Only Rich People Can be Vegetarians argument but I do believe the I Eat Meat to Help out My Friends Argument is a new one.

    Treating their animals with kindness and respect would mean not killing them.

  78. Lara

    smmo, North was not making her arguments based off of an animal rights platform, she was arguing on a nutritional/ecological platform, so whether or not she thinks killing animals is ethical is besides the point:

    “I just think a lot of people don’t think through the ecological (not legal/rights) implications of what they eat.” -North

    And yes, I also officially hate PETA. They’re a bunch of misogynist assholes with disgusting advertisements that spit down on women supposedly in the name of “animal rights.” If anything, they are degrading their so-called mission by using sexist adverts and dehumanizing women. And I am sick and tired of the way some vegans and vegetarians (NOT ALL) still defend PETA and their anti-woman campaigns.

  79. jayo

    Why is eating animals bad but eating plants (or fungus, or bacteria) is okay? I understand (and agree) that you can draw parallels between the domination and cruelty to underclasses of humans and to our food animals – but can’t this parallel also extend to the vegetable kingdom, where plants are commodified, subject to strict eugenics, where whole communities are wiped out in one go so we can buy our lettuce in the supermarket?

  80. Virginia Ray

    this is the WIC link:

    http://www.instantgrantsearch.com/?
    page_id=51&gclid=CPSzyJWf45ECFSEaawodtk6-ew

  81. Virginia Ray

    Lara

    I wrote this big long thing in explanation complete with links to help you in your work and lost it somehow. I need to rest and regroup but will write here again when I can reconstruct it all.

  82. Flores

    Uh, plants aren’t nearly as similar to us as animals are. I was just reading an article in National Geographic about animal intelligence. They’re more like humans than we give them credit for. They think and feel. Plants do not. Both scientific experiments and experience show this.

    That said, I would prefer a way to survive with consuming any living creatures. Technology will provide this. In a few decades, or perhaps a bit longer, we’ll be able to sustain ourselves more efficiently. At first we’ll create food directly from the elements with molecular nanotechnology, but eventually we’ll put nutrients right into our bloodstream or the like. The comment about photosynthesis isn’t too far off.

  83. Suzz

    Actually, whether or not North thinks killing animals is ethical is not beside the point. Although I have issues with the concept of keeping animals for human purposes in the first place, it is still being advocated that we not just keep these animals and utilize their manure as fertilizer/their insect-eating abilities, but that we also kill those animals when their usefulness declines or when our gastronomical whims steer us to eat meat and/or we can turn a buck on their slaughter. And that being said, there is still absolutely no kind of excuse for dairy consumption, even in this “ecological meat” argument. Anyway, what North is arguing for is “ecological presence of animals on farms,” and in no way requires them to be made into meat. And supporting the production of that meat by buying it is saying that we should slaughter animals, which is inherently inhumane (I mean, seriously. Would it be considered humane treatment if I slaughtered another human? Do animals have a lower capacity for pain?). If we want to talk about truly responsible, justified, minimally-exploitative farming, whose interests lie beyond the capitalist “bottom line,” and in less base notions, like responsibility, honesty, and compassion, meat and slaughter simply wouldn’t be a part of it.

    And, yeah, PETA is seriously misguided, but it shouldn’t be taken as the posterchild for the whole movement. Like feminism, veg*nism is a movement of many stripes that shares a few central ideas.

  84. Suzz

    jayo, I think it’s worth saying that most people who object to meat eating don’t object to it primarily on the grounds that it is unjust to kill or eat something that is alive. I think that the argument that really holds water is the one that objects to taking the life of a sentient (feeling) being who not only has a desire to stay alive, but can feel pain inflicted upon it either by direct violence, i.e. slaughter, or by more-indirectly-violent poor living conditions (and as much as we like to talk about eating from ethical, local co-ops and stuff, which I heartily endorse, most people’s food in the US and the “developed” world comes from large-scale factory-model farms, which are oppressive and disregard just about every aspect of an animal aside from its profitability).

    And I reiterate one thing Flores said: plants don’t feel. There are specific and importantly unique aspects of animal nervous systems (which originally evolved to take the place of analogous hormone-distribution networks in plant bodies) that give animals the ability to sense pleasure and pain, hot and cold, rough and smooth, etc., and be importantly conscious of it on some level.

    I’m not so into the futuristic technofood. I mean, if you really think about it, the human attitude of domination over and commodification of the natural (non-human) world is not limited to living things. Elements and stuff are part of nature, too, and the act of commodification upon them is not impossible and operates not all that differently within a human psyche. The case is that we need to eat, and that we need to eat things that are composed of matter, and that matter of any form can be commodified. That brings up some issues with the concept of private property in general, but this is so not the time to elaborate on that. My body/brain is tired.

  85. Lara

    Hi VR, I am thinking perhaps because the post had a lot of links it was lost in moderation??? Sometimes that happens. Anyway, if it doesn’t work I can just give you my email and you can send it to me that way.
    Thanks!

  86. Flores

    Suzz – My futurism is quite out there, but it has a precedent in radical feminism. Consider Firestone’s writing about the potential for using technology to transcend biology. I’d like to do that for food, so I don’t have to devour plants or deal with the less pleasant aspects of the digestive tract.

    I don’t really see how we could oppress elements. Of course, we have to get the raw materials from somewhere, and that would disrupt, if only slightly, a natural system. I don’t what the best option would be. Nanotechnology could let us live much more in harmony with animals and plants than we do now. We could become primary producers, making our own nutrients. But we’d still affect the planet.

    Does that mean we should all migrate to space, mine asteroids, and let Earth do its own thing? Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll have to make that decision when the time comes, if it comes. More likely, the patriarchy will claim these future technologies, continuing to oppress whomever it can. But I like to dream. Perhaps, as in Ursula K Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, the anarchists will get a moon.

  87. Suzz

    Flores, I’m not saying that the technology idea is completely ridiculous or anything – I’m not suggesting we shun technology and return to primitivism, either. Admittedly, my comment on that was not so well-written. In any case, I guess what I am trying to say is that if we commodify the earth in general, we set for ourselves a precedent to commodify other things, living or not. So, really, there’s no way that I can see of avoiding commodification altogether, just as there is no way to avoid the exploitation of other beings altogether (“mice in the farm field” argument).

    I guess my question is why plants get more status than elements just for having functioning metabolic and reproductive systems. Since they have no desires, no emotions, and no ability to be conscious of their life cycles (which we call lives, in animals), how can plants be oppressed? I mean, I guess that could be translated to a human situation… if a person is in a deep, long, unrecoverable coma, and has been rendered essentially brain-dead, thus lacking awareness of the outside world, is that person being oppressed when their family and doctors actively and with purpose discuss their fate and the possibility of ‘pulling the plug?’ They have no way to experience the situation, just as plants have no way to experience their own situations.

    And mining, generally, and as far as I know, is a pretty disruptive practice ecologically. I could be wrong but I am currently taking an environmentalism class at my university and the professor has had quite a bit to say about destructive mining practices.

    Then again, I don’t know much about this nanotechnology you mention, so I could be off on this stuff. I ask genuinely that you maybe toss me a link to learn more about it? Until then… I’ll be seein’ you on the moon. If I were there, I think I’d take up rock climbing.

  88. smally

    jayo, are you serious, or is that some kind of parody, like the song Carrot Juice is Murder, but less funny?

    Here’s a thought experiment for you: imagine putting a carrot in an oven at 180C for half an hour. Now imagine doing the same to a live kitten. Any moral intuitions clarifying things for you?

    Maybe a short slogan would be better, “no brain, no pain”.

  89. North

    Flores, your nanotech future sounds awful!

    Suzz, as an aside, I don’t see what your problem is with sustainable dairy. Seven Stars Farm is one I happen to know about in some detail, and it is a model of respectful and ethical farming. The farm is beautiful and healthy thanks to the rotational grazing, the cows keep their horns and are not artificially bred, and I just can’t stress enough how much kindness and respect the farmers have for their cows. Aside from the fact that they are eventually sent to slaughter (a big aside), why would you object to this situation?

    On the other hand, I think your point about whether it’s ok to kill animals is a really important one. Meat-eating commodifies animals, treating them as a means to an end. I think I’ve tried to make the point that a vegetarian diet also kills and oppresses animals by destroying their homes and killing them with the machinery. These are not trivial costs! Certain animals, like ground-nesting birds, are much better served by rotational pasture, or by keeping forest cover and pasturing pigs in the forest, than by cleared land for vegetative crops. Soy is not cruelty free. Why are the lives of wild animals and the ecological health of an area destroyed by intensive vegetable farming less valuable than the lives of farm animals destroyed by meat-eating? And given that either dietary choice destroys the lives of animals, why is commodification per se so objectionable?

    I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall.

  90. weeza

    Flore: ‘Soylent Green is people!’ ;)

    VR: ‘The farmer’s child is taught to distance them self from compassion and empathy.’
    I don’t know about farmers you know, but ask British farmers how they felt having to kill their entire stock during the Foot & Mouth crisis. Yes, I know this is in conflict to sending them to slaughter. But they do not lack emotion. I know if I had to raise and kill my own animals to eat, I would have an awful lot of pets.

  91. C. Atrox

    Fantastic thread! It reminds me of all those years of progressive nit-picking when the argument seemed to be more vital than the action.
    I think we on the leftist-side of life do ourselves a disservice by trying to find a “pure” way of living. Since there are hazards and ethical questions to almost anything we do, there is almost no point in trying to be perfecto. This is not to say that we shouldn’t often question our motives and actions, but we shouldn’t intellectually abuse ourselves for not living up to a perceived orthodoxy.
    I am a vegefishieterian. In other words, I eat mostly vegetables but once in awhile gnaw upon the carcass of a fish. In no way would I try and justify eating even a fish since, let’s face it, it’s unnecessary. But, alas, almost no one would invite me over for dinner if I stayed pure to my vegetarian ideals. (“You can eat fish can’t you? It’s not meat.”)
    Anyway, one’s choice in food does directly impact the way we live. As long as we make some thoughtful choices, we are moving forwardish. Naturally, corporations have worked to co-opt the “natural foods” movement because it is finally making money. So now we try to buy regionally. But we should also grow some of our own food and cut out the junk food buying as much as we can. (With the exception of chocolate, licorice, and anything with caramel. Ha.) Also, for most people, we can eat a bit less. All it takes is a quick trip to the local supermarket to see that most Americans still rely primarily on factory-made crap to eat. If we, the readers on this blog, make ANY choices about our diet, we’re doing a hell of a lot more than most people. The “doing” is what’s important.

  92. tinfoil hattie

    Growing your own food becomes much easier if you own property. Or live near enough to a co-op garden that you can easily transport your seed, tools, and harvested crops to and fro.

  93. WoollyPunk

    has anyone yet echoed Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) to wonder what would happen to all those cows if we stopped milking them?

    (and no, not by big factory farm milking, by hand on a small local organic farm, of course)

    to me, the vegetarian argument is much more clear than the vegan argument. unless you’re going to go the route of not owning animals at all, what’s the problem with milk and cheese produced on small farms?

  94. C. Atrox

    In response to Tinfoil Hattie, I would suggest container gardening. It can be done almost anywhere and you don’t have to own property. Anyone can take a half dozen 5- gallon buckets (free pickle buckets from big restaurants), punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage, throw in some soil, and grow a tomato plant or two, Swiss chard, beets, spinach, basil, peppers, even taters. I find that growing greens, especially chard and kale, is very easy.

  95. Suzz

    How many people actually have access to small farms to get milk and cheese though, WoollyPunk? In an ideal world, everyone has access to small farms to get their vittles, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Because it is not always accessible or affordable to buy small farm dairy, veganism IS quite a clear argument. Plus, dairy production directly supports veal production, since suckling calves are taken from their mothers so that we may use the mother’s milk, and the real “use” most farms have for calves is either to grow them into more diary cows or to butcher them for veal. And not only does cheese entail that process, but most small operations require the use of calves’ gastric acid, called rennet, to curdle the milk. That’s not vegetarian…?

    I don’t know what Kingsolver has to say on the subject of “cows if we stopped milking them,” but that wouldn’t realistically happen with a switch to veganism. First of all, this is the case because their young would be sucking on their teats. Milk is only produced by postpartum cows. And what would more likely happen than a bunch of cows with too much milk to give would be that there would be a gradual decline in the artificially-bolstered population of cows in tandem with a decline in human dairy consumption. So all those extra cows with the extra milk… wouldn’t exist.

    To elaborate on my objection to dairy for North: even if it in done without “artificial” breeding, although I’m not sure what that means – in vitro? Planned introduction of a bull? – it still requires that a cow be impregnated, give birth, and then lose its calf very shortly thereafter so that humans may enjoy her mammary secretions instead of allowing the calf to naturally feed. The calf is usually used then for veal, unless it is female, in which case it is subject to the fate of its mother – impregnation and loss of its young. Animals experience attachment too, and it certainly is no picnic for an animal, even a cow, to have its child stolen away. THAT is cruel, it is inflicted violence, and it cannot be called caring or considerate.

    And the problem with the commodification of animals, beyond the issues for the animals, is that it licenses the idea “you, sentient creature in my care, belong to me and your life only has value insofar as you are of use to me, even if it causes you pain and suffering and your natural behavior and needs are suppressed.” These things translate to people (see: slavery). And the whole means-to-and-end thing is a trademark of patriarchy, so don’t be surprised when so many of us are wary of it.

    I guess my last question, and this is a sincere, non-rhetorical question, is this: if eating meat is a positive ecological choice, why do so many environmental advocates suggest a vegan diet?

  96. jayo

    To clarify, I see that there is a difference between humans and other animals – I would eat other animals before I would eat humans (whom I can imagine eating in sufficiently dire circumstances). I also see that there is a difference between the animal kingdom and other kingdoms. I feel that there is less potential for suffering in non-animal kingdoms than animal.

    However, it is a continuum. There isn’t a huge divide to me between “totally moral and okay to eat, oppress, and exploit” and “totally immoral and not okay to eat, oppress, and exploit”.

    I try to remember that no matter what I eat, something must die so that I might live. I try to do it responsibly and in a somewhat reverential manner. However, where I draw the line at what my potential food pool is isn’t even static – sometimes I have the privelege of being able to be pickier about what I eat, and sometimes I don’t.

  97. North

    Almost all cattle and most other livestock are bred by artificial insemination. Seven Stars is different in that the bull runs free with the herd, mating with the cows in a way that approximates the natural behavior of cattle (which includes signals to indicate readiness on the part of the cow). It’s an example of the way that this particular farm accommodates the natural behavior and needs of its livestock.

    And the problem with the commodification of animals, beyond the issues for the animals, is that it licenses the idea “you, sentient creature in my care, belong to me and your life only has value insofar as you are of use to me, even if it causes you pain and suffering and your natural behavior and needs are suppressed.”

    Yes, I totally agree that commodification of anything or anyone is problematic. But when we commodify land and use it to produce vegetable food, this also harms sentient creatures who are not in our care. I’m not asking why it matters, just why you see commodification as a trump to everything else. If, for example, a particular chunk of land were well-suited to pastured dairy cattle (or goat or sheep), unsuited to grain production, and the farmer treats the animals respectfully, why is the commodification of the dairy animal so much more important than the ecological benefit of keeping that land in healthy production?

    if eating meat is a positive ecological choice, why do so many environmental advocates suggest a vegan diet?

    I think this happens because people don’t know about the damage to ecology and animals caused by grain production, so they have a false sense of cruelty-free-ness from a vegan diet. Second, I think people don’t see knowing your farmer or buying from responsible farms as a viable option for most people – and it’s not easy, but it’s a lot more possible than people think. So people feel that it’s elitist to advocate a ‘know-your-farmer’ diet, but not to advocate veganism (as previously mentioned, rice and beans are cheap). Similarly, being vegan is pretty easy to codify and specify, where ‘find out where your food comes from’ means finding new places to shop and rearranging your diet fairly significantly.

    Also, I think some environmental advocates are moving to a more local, meat-accepting theory.

  98. Virginia Ray

    and by the way Lara most of my initial response was for bad kitty and there is another Laura on the posts who I agree with. I sort of jumbled you all into one person.

    Laura said, OK F is right but any reform that eases the suffering is good until we can change everything. I agree with that. I think people need to know the horror and to work for change where ever they are at. Any reduction in suffering is meaningful to the tortured although not the end goal and I support it all.

    PETA is borderline sexist in many actions. Still, they help. They get modeling (puke) agencies to go fur free. Good. We are all on the path.

  99. Virginia Ray

    Lara

    It happened again – my post disappeared. particularly bad with the false info being pushed by these cow slaughterers but I am sending my response to Twisty asking her to forward it to Lara. You email Twisty and say to forward my message to you.

  100. Virginia Ray

    Lara the email to twisty came back undeliverable so I will try to post in segments here if that does not work, I give up

    Lara

    Here is the first part of the reconstruction – it is really too bad I lost the other which was better.

    “Who is “you people” and who is “us”?”

    The injection of class blaming on this thread reminded me of Milwaukee 1970 when working and welfare women were gathering around a women’s
    center in the downtown area. The weatherwomen would come in groups and bust up our meetings. We were trying to decide who would staff what hours, who would answer the phone, how to pay the bills and they would keep insisting we were not dealing with “class” issues. We were not attacking white middle class women who were funding us with donations.

    They would talk all night refusing to let us deal with”less important” issues while one by one women with children left, women who had to get up the next morning for work left, until it was just one or two of us left and then none of the weatherwomen would volunteer to take a shift or do the work. They would just leave in the group they came in with.

    In the meantime those middle class white women were risking their hard won jobs qualifying us for programs which lifted us out of poverty.

    Women’s problems at that time did not quality for DVR or SSI and all the other programs. All a woman could do to get economic aid was get pregnant and have a baby. (much the same today) Then she could get welfare. And since B.C. and abortion were illegal that was easy to do but was the kiss of death really. These women told us what to say to get
    qualified and then they fought for us with their supervisors.

    Once a feminist got a state job as a supervisor at DVR, many women were job trained and their life changed forever.

    So I believe strongly that the job of feminist is to reach across race and class to improve lives not to say poor women cannot do it, that is want and have the same things more “privileged” women have.

    Why is calculated eating fine for Hollywood but impossible for poor children?

  101. Virginia Ray

    Why is calculated eating fine for Hollywood but impossible for poor children?

    That is the first question I would ask in a CR session with the women you work with while they were receiving nutrition education from WIC, Head Start and PETA or the National Humane society. Conscious Raising groups are the basic unit of change. You need the manual – I have no idea where to get one, except maybe NOW. “Guidelines to Consciousness Raising” was written by Harriet Perl and Gay Abarbanell in Los Angeles.

    My favorite topic was actually labeled “Sh-t work.”

    You would write your own topic “Nutrition” “Cruelty to Animals – the Link” but the manual would show you how it is done. There is a specific structure to the
    topics. The Latham Foundation has written materials that would help you.

    CR process rules are – go around the circle – each woman speaks only about her own experience – only I statements – no interruptions and if you disagree – you say My experience is different from — in that here is how it happened to me.

    So then you find out WHAT exactly in the institutions in that particular place is blocking the women from getting what they need.

    You see where institutional change is needed. You document it. Investigate. Then the women in the CR groups learn how and make that political institutional change necessary both by political and community development action. I would bring in Midwest Academy (Alinsky) organizers from Chicago to help plam political action campaigns if necessary after the process stalled.

    Lara said: “don’t ever take your experiences and make it look like any other poor woman who hasn’t done what you have done is not trying hard
    enough (if that’s what you meant).”" We all make judgments” Lara said.

    First of all, make judgments about the food delivery system and cruelty to animals, not the class sensitivities of other women. Not the ability
    of poor women to change the limitations imposed on them by class.

    I think you are saying shut up and hiding behind the poor women to do it.

    No one said other women were not trying hard enough -we all said what WE were doing and why. But I will say maybe you are feeling YOU did not try hard enough. I say stop worrying about it because you didn’t know how – it is tricky. Now you are starting to see maybe there is more.

    Here are the blocks you mentioned.

    “There are no farmer’s markets I know of that are even remotely close the area where I used to work (where these women live). How about we work on spreading knowledge about these farmer’s market food stamps you’re talking about? Hell, I never even knew about them, and a lot of the poor moms I worked with everyday didn’t know about them either.”

    The food stamp Farmer’s Market Program is for WIC participants and people over 60. It is a USDA program and it not in all states. When people organize to get it their states, it will be there.

    Contact Donna Hines 703.305.2714 USDA Food services program.

    http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/SeniorFMNP/SFMNPmenu.htm=20

  102. Virginia Ray

    Contact Donna Hines 703.305.2714 USDA Food services program. Leave off the =20 on that link above like this:

    http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/SeniorFMNP/SFMNPmenu.htm

    The women can get grants to buy or convert urban land to community markets and even get grant money to hire a master organic gardener to train them. Organic nutritionists to teach canning and food storage.

    They can keep their own chickens for eggs. And PETA, and the Humane society should teach them about factory farming. The Latham Foundation can teach about the links between child abuse, animal abuse and adult violence.

    http://assoc.garden.org/

    http://www.greentreks.org/allprograms/roughterrain/urbangardening/index.asp

    http://www.sacgardens.org/

  103. Virginia Ray

    Poor women can demand the schools provide a health based school lunch program and nutrition instruction which is not written by the meat and dairy industry (until 2000, most high school and college nutrition curriculum were provided by the meat and dairy industry) and that the school lunch programs change to be more than a dumping ground for subsidized meat and dairy products.

    http://www.feingold.org/PF/wisconsin1.html

    http://www.dpi.wisconsin.gov/fns/ffvp.html

    http://www.legis.state.wi.us/lrb/pubs/ttp/ttp-09-2006.html

    http://www.aasd.k12.wi.us/aca/phys health.htmhttp://www.greentreks.org/allprograms/roughterrain/urbangardening/index.asp

    You can get grants to start farmers markets

    http://www2.pps.org/updates/one-entry?entry_id=3D5517
    Contact Madison WI voted the best Farmer’s Market in the US for =
    instruction. Are you starting to see the job opportunity here? It is called community development.

    http://www.instantgrantsearch.com/?page_id=3D60

  104. Virginia Ray

    http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/statehealthplan/05annualpdf/nutrition.pdf
    read their list of accomplishments and the govt agencies involved to trigger the same where you are

    I think it is the job of the professional helper to organize the poor to help themself – not just pity them. To grant write for resources and to fund the child care and to encourage them to work together to develop their resources. If personal emotional problems limit their ability then get them counseling. But group power, meeting with their senators, insisting on community development projects, insisting on training and education are very important and can provide the way up and out. You don’t just say they cant do it – only the privileged can do it. You help them do it.

    http://www.instantgrantsearch.com/?page_id=113

    http://www.foodsecurity.org/cfsc_case_studies.pdf

    http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=2&tax_subject=276&topic_id=1340

    http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/ebt/2005-growing.htm

    The End of this long post.

  105. Virginia Ray

    http://www.pps.org/markets/

  106. Carpenter

    “Although I have issues with the concept of keeping animals for human purposes in the first place, it is still being advocated that we not just keep these animals and utilize their manure as fertilizer/their insect-eating abilities, but that we also kill those animals when their usefulness declines or when our gastronomical whims steer us to eat meat and/or we can turn a buck on their slaughter.”

    This illustrates what many of us have been saying, certainly this hearkens back to my first post; that the argument about being vegetarian/vegan should rest primarily on questions of killing or limiting the freedom of beings who can think and feel pain.
    Arguments about labor practices and sustainability do not hold because animals and plants may be farmed in ways that are sustainable or unsustainable. And I think all agree we’d rather have sustainable farming and attempt to support it though strategies vary about how to make big changes.

    It will be impossible for everyone here to agree on the metaphysics of killing animals for food, or keeping animals for dairy and wool, or of having a pet at all. Given that animals have free will is it OK to slap a saddle on a horse and make it carry you around? If it is, then I don’t see the problem with keeping animals for milk and eggs. Given that the added effects of different human lifestyles are going to kill different beings, both sentient and not, is going to make these arguments very difficult.

  107. tinfoil hattie

    C. Atrox:

    You need a sunny location. Not as easy as it might sound.

  108. Carpenter

    I don’t think calculated eating is impossible for poor children, I don’t think it is a bad idea either, it is just a matter of what is the best strategy for smoothly moving to a sustainable farming system (which we all think has to be done). For a lot of people right now meat provides fast and cheap calories, and affordable veggies are Mega-agro, many people can even afford to buy fresh. When I grew up, the times we lived paycheck to paycheck we bought lots of frozen and canned veggies because they were dirt cheap. For lots of people another factor in what they buy to eat is how much time it takes to prepare, it is a pain in the ass to make dried beans which have to be soaked and boiled, while you can make a burger in 10 minutes and many people have no expendable time.

    Small scale boycotts are a fine individual choice, and one that many of us make, but they are not the venue through which large scale change is going to come. Naomi Klein talk about something similar to this in the clothing industry. There are large scale labor abuses going in in sweatshops here and outside the country, however the strategy of just buying NoSweat isn’t an option for many people. In addition there is a terrible double bind because large scale boycotts would put the workers out of a job. Big farming is something similar, there needs to be a way to transition farming practices and move workers to better jobs that wont come about from a few people shopping at the local health food store.

  109. invisible

    Wow.

    Amen.

    It’s a terrible time to become a vegan, by the way. Has anyone noticed the economy lately? Fresh fruits and vegetables are for rich folks, these days. Bread? What is that, I wonder. Water is next.

    I wonder what will ever become of me.

  110. alice

    Read Sistah Vegan and listen to her podcast to hear her make the connections between race, class, gender, and oppression. Her research and writing continues.
    http://breezeharper.tripod.com/research/sistah_vegan_anthology.html

  111. Flores

    Suzz – I wouldn’t say we can oppress plants, exactly. It could merely be sentiment, but I respect plants as living things. They’re not the same as feeling animals, but neither are they same as rocks. If I could survive without killing plants, I think I would chose to. I guess I’m a resolute treehugger.

    As for nanotechnology, http://www.crnano.org is a good place to learn the basics about molecular manufacturing. Visit Ray Kurzweil’s site, http://www.kurzweilai.net, to explore the extremes of futurism. I love that stuff, but it could use some more radical feminism. (As could most things.) I believe coming advances have the potential to deeply undermine gender, which will hopefully weaken the patriarchy. We’ll see.

    North – Does it really sound so bad? I remember Twisty discussing vaguely similar things a while back. How do you feel about Firestone’s vision?

  112. mia

    I wrote: How about this: oppressing the powerless (the right ones) can be good for the patriarchy. Not just a compromise, but a positive choice. To me, it all sounds frighteningly similar to arguments that have been made to justify the oppression of African Americans in slavery, women, and Native Americans. And a similar argument to that which is currently made to justify the use of torture.

    North responded: I don’t really know what to say to this, other than that it’s a patently disingenuous argument aimed at making me feel bad about myself.

    North, the linkages are clear and documented by feminist writers for decades. The only thing here that is ‘patently disingenuous’ is the complete disregard for the perspectives of vegetarian/vegan radical feminists. Why is there such a stake in silencing these voices? Why is there such a sense of entitlement in terms of disalowing a space for those perspectives? What political purpose is served when commodification, exploitation and slaughter of living beings is glorified?

    I certainly agree that a widespread change in our nation’s priorities is necessary, that access is a huge issue, and that people make their own choices. But we work with what we have. Infantilizing the actions of those who are making an effort to live a reduced-violence life, and throwing the tired “you all think you’re morally superior!” rant around is insulting, shaming, intended to ‘put us in our place,’ which is apparently a silent place. At what point did humankind decide to put killing on the table as an acceptable social action? And just how far has it gotten us?

  113. Virginia Ray

    Hey Everybody

    The Humane Society is making a campaign from their video and you can help. The have a letter you can sign electronically here:

    https://community.hsus.org/campaign/CA_2008_investigation?rk=V7ALCHsqQcklW

    Please take two minutes to follow the link and sign the letter to your elected officials. And you can help more by sending the link to your whole address book.

    Power to Compassion!

  114. Virginia Ray

    Flores

    Of course plants feel and respond although differently than mammals and fish/birds but still intensely. But we harvest them when their cycle is over or only potential. Nuts, seeds, fruits, grains and vegetables. All harvested at the end of their cycle or before the cycle begins. When raised locally,sustainably and organically with respect for the earth, you are eating ethically. Their flesh then becomes you in their transformation.

  115. CunningAllusionment?

    I only have a minute, so I hope that this is intelligible:

    I should preface this by saying that I am in no way condoning industrial food production of any kind.

    Something that many vegetarians bring up in support of their position is that animals feel in much the same way we do and that there is evidence to support this. They’re right, animals are generally much more intelligent and self-aware than people give them credit for. That said, it’s presumptuous to say that plants don’t feel pain, etc. It’s also disingenuous to site our relative similarity to non-human animals as a reason to not exploit them since this seems to imply that it would be better to eat sentient aliens than to eat plants because plants at least share the same evolutionary heritage.

    Yet there is a contradiction here as well. If non-human animals feel like we do, than aren’t wolves and other carnivorous animals ethically culpable for their lifestyle? Are chimpanzees morally compromised by their occasional cannibalism? When the technology becomes available, should we force all meat eating species to wear nutritional generating packs? How then would we deal with the ecological repercussions of the sudden removal of predators from the food web? If you don’t believe that the total destruction of the food web is a good idea, then why do you advocate removing humans from it?

    All animals live by killing and this system has not only worked, it has worked fantastically well for hundreds of millions of years. Life may not be “red in tooth and claw” but it’s also not a love in.
    Even if we could somehow avoid eating, we would still have to kill in order to live. It seems like at least part of the motivation for “universal vegetarianism” (as opposed to vegetarianism as an objection to industrialized food) is a fear of death. We are a part of the world and that means that we will kill to survive and we will eventually die and surrender our nutrients to the web of life in which we live. Our ancestors lived in the web of life for thousands or millions or billions of years depending on how you want to define “ancestors” and the web sustained them and supported them. Species go extinct and life consumes itself and this is not wrong. I don’t think it’s wrong because it precisely this process that has given us all the wonderful diversity of life on this planet, why should we know better than three billion years of life on Earth?

    I just want to reiterate that I believe that industrial food production is a perverse abomination that is inherently unsustainable and oppressive to people and animals.

  116. Linden

    Hi everyone. I’ve lurked around here for a while, posted rarely, but I’m hoping for a little support this morning in my blaming. I don’t know why I do these things to myself, but I read what was probably the millionth article posted on Alternet about how feminist and empowering it is for young white educated women to work as prostitutes. Then I read the comments and posted on how the author seemed to be a bit confused about what feminism is.

    Predictably, I got called every name in the book. All the other comments on the site were things like, “all work is prostitution,” or “it’s sex-positive for women to make money on their backs,” or “men have an urge to spread their seed, and women should be able to charge them for it,” and on and on. Now I feel like I just took a dip in a cesspool.

  117. tinfoil hattie

    Linden:

    Head on over to the blame message board at

    http://easypersiflage.com/blameforum/index.php

    All kinds of help, support, & suggestions there!

  118. Ac

    Actually, Virginia Ray, vegetables aren’t harvested at the end of their “cycle”- they are harvested smack dab in the middle of it. Take all the leafy veggies (lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc)- they are harvested in their first year of life, before they flower, not afterwards. Right when they are most active and growing.
    Also, root vegetables (potatoes, yams, beets, etc) are energy stores to get them through their dormant phase and fuel the plants next year’s growth. It’s like killing an animal when it’s sleeping.

  119. Carpenter

    “Water is next.”

    Jeebus lets hope not. Although the water table is yet another big issue in big grain farming. I take solace in the fact that energy privatization was such a disaster that it will undercut attempts to privatize the water, but maybeI am living in a happy dream land but I hear the sierra club is on the job for us.

  120. slashy

    So while all this has been going on I’ve been gardening, and missed the whole thread. Gardening is great. Growing your own food? As fun and rewarding as everyone says it is. Of course, it’s also incredibly privileged- I have the time to tend my plants, I have land to grow them on, I have access to sunlight (even the most creative container gardening can’t feasibly overcome the total lack of direct sunlight that is the sad reality of many, many urban residences- sorry, whoever suggested it as the solution above. No sun=no plants, no matter how hard you’re trying. Unless you use permanent grow-lights, and have an infinite capacity to pay energy bills).

    But you know what growing my own food has taught me, more than anything else? That there is no such thing as a pure vegetarian diet. Doesn’t exist.

    I found myself awhile back going to serve a salad of home-grown tomatoes & baby lettuce to a vegan friend, and caught myself about to warn her that the tomatoes were treated with a homebrewed milk-based anti-fungal solution. And then I thought about it. Thought about the composted manure that goes onto my garden, sourced from meat & dairy farms. The eggshells that are an integral part of my slug defenses. The, horror of all horrors, fish-corpse-based nitrogen supplement I use that is made up of invasive pest fish species pulled by the tonne out of local rivers where I live, ground up & sold as a stinky but very effective fertiliser.

    I’ll admit it: I squash slugs and snails on a daily basis.

    I thought about all of this, and realised that although I am vegetarian, there is nothing vegetarian about my garden. It relies on animal products to keep it growing. Animal death, even. Thought I should start warning my vegetarian friends about this.

    Then thought about where my vegetarian friends got their foods, thought about what was used to till, fertilize, pest-control those endless acres of land, wherever they are, that produce the kilo bags of carrots from Woolworths that we vegetarians so proudly put in our shopping carts in preference to shrink-wrapped meat. Then thought about the likelihood that ANY of those local, sustainable, organic farmers at the (privileged-access) farmer’s markets avoid using blood & bone or other corpse-based fertilizers on their heirloom crops.

    And then I realized that it’s exactly like BadKitty says above: We all have blood on our hands. I’d extend that to say, we all have the bodies and wastes of animals on our plates, some of us are just more full of shit about it than others.

    This is not an argument for apathy, it’s an argument against the riding of high horses, the perception that vegetarianism is in any way disconnected from the global food source which can in no way be separated from animal-based industry.

    It’s also the argument I used when my vegan housemate protested my desire to acquire some chickens to provide valuable manure/recycling/bug-control features to my garden’s ecosystem (“But ownership of animals is inherently wrong”)- I can buy the manure from who knows where, I can buy chemically produced, intensely polluting, soil-killing artificial crap (no chickens commodified in the production of this stuff, although a river or two may have been totally destroyed!), or I can raise a few chickens and, yes, commodify them for their usefulness to my food production. None of these options is ethically neutral. None of us are pure. Distance from the harm your food intake creates does not equate to lack of harm.

  121. Lauren O

    Okay, I have a question for the folks who are advocating for vegetarianism/veganism on the grounds of not-killing-animals as opposed to environmental reasons. If the int0r wabs make my question sound snarky or snide, I apologize, as it’s not meant to be. I am trying to gain some understanding.

    Is it the killing of the animals, or the owning (and then killing) of the animals that you see as the problem? Before the advent of modern technology and society, was it okay for people to go out into the woods and spear a boar, and then use its body for meat and clothing and tools and stuff? Or do you think of that as murder as well?

  122. goblinbee

    Lauren O, one of the things that bothers me the most is the unequal exchange. That for a meal that was not a necessity for me (because I have so many other choices), an animal was forced to give up her entire life. It seems so huge compared to the relative little I would gain (taste, nutrition). If it ever truly came down to my life or an animal’s, I would choose my own. I have yet to meet someone who has been in that situation.

  123. mia

    goblinbee, word.

  124. Carpenter

    “That for a meal that was not a necessity for me (because I have so many other choices), an animal was forced to give up her entire life.”

    This bothers me but I don’t see many ways around it. I cause animals die if I specifically kill them for meat. I cause different animals things die if I farm crops, or I indirectly participate in the killing of said animals by eating farmed crops. True vegetarianism would probably require giving up agriculture all together. Not it can’t be done if you try really hard, Gandhi describes living for extended periods on salt lemons nuts and olive-oil but I doubt many people have or could undertake such a diet.

  125. Virginia Ray

    It is not just the killing. It is the torture – a whole life of torture and pain – you must go to Peta’s websites and the Humane Society’s factory farming pages — see it for yourself. Endless breeding, confined by pig poles, chained, babies taken after birth — it is really horrible – worse than you think. Feed lots are shit piles the animals standing in mud and manure. The smell in pig farms can make humans physically ill. And these animals cry and try to escape – mothers try to find their calf’s – calling and calling. They try to get help. And outside this horror there are the private stories of what these men and boys do privately to the animals they own.

    Modeled on this animal exploitation, dogs and cats are also factory farmed right here in the US by the Mennonites and millers the same way.

    It is nothing so dismissive as these apologists write in their minimizing distinctions, comparing this to eggshells and fertilizers, the killing of slugs.

    It not the killing but the killing is not easy. The truck ride breaks bones – no water, exercise or food for days – crowded and crushing, jaring and when your legs are too broke to move the bulldozers and chains –thrown on manure piles to rot till you die or hoisted up to be swung to the knives – some animals are skinned alive – chickens thrown alive into boiling water which is the normal method of execution.

    And on these so called humane meat producers the same – endless breeding – the calf taken and put in veal crates – for what? Profit.

    Carpenter snidely laments the water used for grain production and pretends that his slaughtered meat lives in an endless summer pasture in happy bliss filled conditions. It is a lie. But I found Slashy’s post more insulting and demeaning. You get off your high horse, Slashy, and find a sense of proportion. Bother to read the above posts, follow the links,for we have dealt with all your points and demolished them.

  126. goblinbee

    I do know that this is a complicated issue and I greatly sympathize with people’s various choices and decisions. I have enjoyed reading the different concerns and solutions (don’t love it when it gets testy, but I understand). For myself, I like to keep it simple. I can say no to that hunk of flesh on my plate; whatever else that animal was going through, it wanted to LIVE. This I feel sure of. I don’t think there is a way (yet) for us to know what plants think or feel. Ignorance is bliss, and so I happily chomp away. As already stated above, I also eat eggs from my backyard chickens. Should their ancestors have been domesticated in the first place? Domestication seems on the creepy side, but here I am, living with that contradiction. I think they have a good life with me, but not as good as if they were wild and roaming free in their ancestral jungle. I don’t want to eat or use products from animals that I know had a miserable life. It may not be fair, but the more an animal is like me, the more I can relate to it and the more I care. Critters with eyes are at the top.

  127. Virginia Ray

    I think the chickens have a better life with people who love them then being anywhere else in the world – life in the wild is not all bliss either – to have the freedom of a good yard and someone who protects — why we call that sanctuary and under those circumstances eating eggs is just birth control.

  128. goblinbee

    Thanks, VR, I love the idea of providing sanctuary.
    Beautiful.
    I do get such a kick out of watching them. They are curious about everything, especially if it is something they have dug up. They trample and eat every plant but a few (they don’t like snapdragons, for example). If I ever have a garden, I will have to protect IT. Initially, I was worried about that famous “pecking order,” but mine have never gone there.
    I recommend them!

  129. Ron Sullivan

    http://www.heifer.org/

  130. Gertrude Strine

    In the corporation model of the world, conurbations are factory farms and at the periphery of the sheds and yards there are a very few kept beasts that are permitted the freedom of thought and range that will allow them to choose what and where they feed.
    Most of them are writing Web2 stuff and the Corporation tolerates them.
    It doesn’t foster them, it tolerates them.

    If their freedom of action filters down so much as to make the more strictly caged beasts restless with ideas that make them think that all beasts really don’t belong in cages, the Corporation issues more spin, or tightens the locks and hands out more tranquillisers (not necessarily pharmaceuticals).

    Fact: nobody needs to eat a quarter of the energy of what a city dweller does.
    Inference: most beasts bred for food not only live needlessly painful lives, they also live completely pointless ones.

  131. Lauren O

    So what I’m mainly hearing is that it’s not that killing an animal is inherently wrong. It’s torturing and then largely wasting the killed animal that’s wrong. Is that about right?

    My theoretical boar hunter would be acceptable then, yes?

  132. Virginia Ray

    The way they are killed is wrong – killing when you do not have to is wrong. Your spear and boar thing is not relevant

  133. Carpenter

    Carpenter snidely laments the water used for grain production and pretends that his slaughtered meat lives in an endless summer pasture in happy bliss filled conditions.

    That is complete and utter BS. When did I ever say that? Plenty of cows get live horrible lives before they die. Over and over I have talked about a transition away from fatory farming and to sustainable food production. Some farms try to do as little harm as possible to large livestock before they are slaughtered. Plenty of animals and also die and people suffer becuase of cash cropping of grains and soy too. Do the least harm is what I a saying. Doing the least harm isn’t as oversimplified as buying vegan and organic without considering issues many of us are bringing up. Its one thing not to know about water or chickens needed for eggshell fertlizers or habitat destruction, but why trivialize these points and attack everyone who brings these things up? It would be intellectually lazy to not adress these points.

  134. Lauren O

    Virginia Ray is stepping on some toes, today, Carpenter. It doesn’t exactly help me understand the disparate motives of vegetarianism when I am told that the question I’m asking to help myself understand is not relevant. It was relevant to my understanding, but, oh well. Perhaps I’m meant to remain ignorant, and will go back to meat-eating.

    What I mean to say is I’m getting all het up, and I suspect you are, too. But this is just the Internet, and I, for one, am going to give you a cyber hug, then go to sleep and pretend this never happened.

  135. michelle @ thursday night smackdown

    totally off topic:

    i had a class with francione at rutgers back in the day. most people thought he was a total idiot nutjob, so i figured i would like him.

    (returns to eternal lurk-dom)

  136. Dana

    How’m I gonna fight the patriarchy if my body falls apart? The only part about eating meat that has anything to do with the patriarchy is how it’s raised and distributed. You kill just as many animals doing monocrop farming of grains and soybeans, and grains and soybeans make people sick eventually. Maybe not everybody, but a lot of us.

    I gained over fifty pounds on a vegetarian, sometimes vegan diet over the course of about six months. I’ll never do it again. I can’t get enough calories eating just vegetables, so I have to augment it with grain and beans, but those are too starchy and make my blood sugar crazy, and me right along with it. Diabetes runs strongly on my mom’s side of the family. I’m slated to get it myself if I don’t have it already. I think I’m already in the prediabetes phase, just on how my body acts now.

    And I’d love to get the so-called “humane” animal foods but you know what? I’m broke. I can’t afford that shit. So I have to go with what I *can* afford, and I have to eat what agrees best with my body.

    Meanwhile, I don’t see what’s inhumane about killing something, if you do it quickly without otherwise abusing the animal. Claiming that something has been abused just because it’s dead is exactly what the anti-choicers do about fetuses once a woman’s had an abortion. I ain’t buying it, from *either* side of the aisle. (Political, not grocery.)

  137. Dana

    I should add that in many traditional cultures it is customary to let only the men eat meat and withhold it from the women. The women wind up chronically malnourished as a result and their life expectancies are not as long. But this is not saying meat belongs to the patriarchy–why prove those assholes right? Rather, it proves that men will do anything to get one-up on a woman, given the opportunity.

    I’ve heard it posited that when we were a hunter-gathering species (and some of us still are, but those are dying out quick, fast, and in a hurry), we actually had more gender egalitarianism than we do now. Why? Because people had to work together on an equal basis in order to survive. Nowadays if you’re born in the right social position you can sit on your lazy ass all your life and live off the labor of others, just like a select bunch of white guys does now. Back then you could not get away with that. For instance, it seems the Inuit took a dim view of a man who would not hunt, who stayed behind when the hunting party left and lazed around and screwed around with the women. Like as not they’d insist that he go hunting anyway, get him away from the tribe and push him off an ice floe. Not working together got everybody killed. There was no room for tolerance.

    A lot of what keeps women unequal now is that we’re supposed to fulfill certain purposes the men can’t fulfill, so they want us to focus just on that while they do everything else, that way they can justify running our lives. If their lives depended on us being fully-functional members of society, they’d sing a different tune.

    Sorry for the ramble off the subject but I think it’s worth considering. I guess I understand if you don’t.

  138. rabbitwink

    Twisty,

    I have a question regarding your new acquisition, Stanley.
    How do you justify owning him, vis a vis the vegan line about commodification of animals and animals-as-property, and the Eventual Free House Cat Theory? Doesn’t Stanley have the right to run free, sans owner, without being saddled and ridden? Is “owning” pets acceptible if you are advocating the freedom of all critters from oppression?

    Just asking, no blaming.

  139. pheeno

    What? Meat is of the patriarchy?? I’ll have to make sure I notify the matrilineal NA cultures who consume meat that really, they’re the P in disguise because some vegetarians (mostly WHITE non NA vegetarians) have decided It Is So. I’ll be sure to add that we aren’t allowed to decide when we need meat, yet another White person gets to decide that. Like they don’t already.

  140. maddy

    Well, there’s revolution – which calls for a stabilised ecosystem in which no animal is exploited by humans (but the occasional spear and spit-roast is still okay because minimal harvesting makes no difference to anyone except that one animal, who was probably eating food that could better have been shared out among five skinny others).
    And then there’s the transition there (can you imagine?)

    Or there’s status quo – modified to place maximum emphasis on sustainability.
    This, it seems to me, is what North is talking about.

    It’s no different to anyone who does their best in the world we already live in. From the starting point where we are now.
    Virginia Ray: I know a fair bit about animal husbandry, a lot about how farm animals live, a little about how they are slaughtered and get to the consumer.
    For many, many grazing animals across the world, the ‘endless summer pasture’ is no lie at all (especially in a mild climate where winter housing can be minimal).
    All farm animals are owned (except for the few mustered from the wild for slaughter) and in that sense, oppressed. But not all suffer, or need suffer.
    There is work yet to do to ensure the welfare of our food – and I’d rather correct emphasis was placed on having primary producers as ‘benevolent oppressors’ – that is, farming with minimal impact – than see misinformation and scare tactics and shaming used to discourage consuming the end products.

    Now that was a heck of a long piece of spam. Image of grazing cow in link above.

  141. Nanami

    Fitting finale for this blog, which exposes just how much you and especially your “followers” (bleh :0) had in common with struggle for womens equality (nothing). You just enjoy wallowing in misery and finding various flaws in the surrounding reality.
    Meanwhile the real feminists get on with their lives making equality a fact by being successful in various careers. And I can’t care less if they eat meat, support war, or vote republican. All this per se has nothing to do with feminism.
    It’s a pity that the feminist presence on the internet is limited to either your likes or the “girly” women studies graduate type that you call “fun feminists”. I guess normal people are too busy actually doing their own things to blog about something like this.

  142. Jezebella

    Look, so we’ve got a Cat Solution, but what the hell are the dogs going to eat?

  143. Virginia Ray

    Twisty,

    Look what I found – meal delivery for vegans

    http://www.hungry-vegan.com/

  144. Virginia Ray

    and here are low cost recipies

    http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2006issue2/vj2006issue2mealplans.htm

  145. Virginia Ray

    Twisty this is near you

    http://www.boggycreekfarm.com/

  146. amy

    This shit will blow your mind:
    http://www.prphotos.com/store/category.cgi?category=search&query=^events_efts.sql&searchtype=efts&index=misc2&q2=PETA Animal Rights Group Stages a Mothers Day Demonstration at Covent Garden in London on February 28, 2008

  1. Body Impolitic - Blog Archive - » Using Sex Work Politics to Preserve Animal Rights (and Vice Versa?) - Laurie Toby Edison: Photographer

    [...] this whole campaign wasn’t infuriating enough, Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy draws our attention to Gary Francone at Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, making a [...]

  2. I think I found a new subhead for my other blog « Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

    [...] Lopate thought this blurb sounded “like a personal ad.” I’d like to point out that personal ads are generally written in the first person perspective, rather than from the pimps-eye-view. Personal ads also frequently include the author’s wants in addition to hir selling points and special features. I, personally, have never written an ad seductively organized around comparing myself to inanimate edibles. [...]

  3. Vegan Feminism < fragmente

    [...] Stanley: now with even more invective at I Blame The Patriarchy Post a comment | Trackback [...]

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