Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why This Vegan Doesn't Celebrate National Meatout Day

Why this vegan doesn't celebrate 'National Meatout Day'
March 20, 2009

As the Standard American Diet (or "S.A.D." Diet) becomes increasingly questionable, consumers are starting to ask just how natural or ethical an omnivorous lifestyle really is.
In the same way organizations, businesses, and interest groups have returned the call for eco-friendly consumerism with their products and recommendations, so too do Animal Rights groups respond with preferred diets and lifestyles.

Unfortunately, time has shown popularity for an Animal Rights message is not what saves animals, but what gets donations and members.

Consumers may have been drawn to animal-free dieting from videos showing animals abused in undercover footage not only for meat, not only for food, but as products: Food, clothing, entertainment, and companionship.

Having been drawn to such dramatic revelation, you would think Animal Rights organizations would educate consumers to change their minds about viewing sentient creatures like us as objects--things that exist for our means.

Watching mother cows bellow in an empty shack for their babies who have been stolen from them to be confined as veal, or witnessing those mothers being shackled and dragged onto a slaughterhouse truck having been rendered useless as dairy cows by suffering several years of repeated forced pregnancies and unattended infections, you would think Animal Rights organizations would ask consumers to go vegan.

You would think even referring to an animal as "meat" would be prejudicial for an Animal Rights organization.

National Meatout Day Starts Tomorrow

The largest Animal Rights organizations are telling consumers to ditch meat and go vegetarian. In fact, some are telling their supporters to become "consciencious omnivores" and even help the animal industry to market their product with "humane" labels for negligible reforms in the way animals are killed, tortured, and exploited.
Instead of educating consumers to view animals as moral rightholders, consumers are convinced they can exploit animals in an ethical way. This view is much easier to swallow, more popular to omnivores, and is destroying any chance animals have for freedom.

Vegetarian and vegan bloggers are raving about today's "National Meatout Day" which asks people not to deny animal products, but simply give up meat.

Campaigns like these break my heart. It's a popular theory that vegetarianism is half as good or a gradual step in the right direction. I felt comfortable thinking this way for six years before anyone ever told me about veganism.

There is No Ethical Difference Between an Omnivore and a Vegetarian

Vegetarians should feel positive for making an act of discipline, one which may have sincerely caused you to step out of your comfort zone, but I cannot lie and say there is any ethical difference between your diet and that of an omnivore.

Again, the problem is not just meat, not just dairy, but the overall commodification of animals. The pioneering work of Gary Francione makes a powerful argument for this case. The vegetarian diet does not have any inherent restriction that tells us to abstain from animal products or eat less of them. Rather, a diet devoid of meat and fish causes a vegetarian to simply eat different animal products while allowing for any sort of non-food animal consumption like clothing and entertainment.

So a vegetarain could potentially be supporting the animal industry more in the form of animal by-products and may actually be consuming animal flesh by putting it on their bodies rather than in their mouth.

The argument could be made that a vegetarian may consume more plants as a result but there is nothing inherent abuot vegetarianism that would cause someone to consume less from the animal industry. As a vegetarian may eat more vegetables as a result, an omnivore may do the same by moving into a new neighborhood, buying a bigger house, or by the flap of a butterfly's wing.

As Animal Rights advocates and ethical vegans, we should stop reinforcing the stereotype that "eating meat" is wrong and join the movement to change the way people think about sentient creatures.

This is actually nothing new, organizations like Friends of Animals, Responsible Policies for Animals; sanctuaries like the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, and academics like Gary Francione and Bob Torres have contributed to a strong abolitionist movement to declare rights for animals by setting veganism as the starting point.

Rather than "National Meatout Day", I declare every March 20th as "National Animal-Free Day" or "National Day of Non-Violence." If we're going to be serious about defending the rights of the animals we hold as slaves, it's time to go vegan.

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